Egyptian grad finds his way to pediatric residency in the US

Ahmed Hussein, MD ’22, has never been one to settle. He started his career in pharmacology in 2010 but soon realized it wasn’t the right fit for him. He found himself longing to make a greater difference in the lives of patients and decided to follow his dream of becoming a doctor in the US.

As someone who had grown up in Egypt, he didn’t have much knowledge of the US healthcare system and knew he needed to select a school that could help him gain this knowledge while providing high-quality medical education. Dr. Hussein soon found SGU, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Today he is a first-year pediatrics resident at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Hussein shared with SGU News how he successfully reached his goal of becoming an MD with the resources provided to him throughout medical school.

St. George’s University: What made you want to pursue medicine and why did you choose pediatrics specifically?

Dr. Hussein: ”If you are lost in a desert and you know that you are walking in the wrong direction, will you keep going in the same direction or will you stop and change it?”

These words, said by my mother, resonated with me when I was thinking about changing my career as a pharmacist to pursue medicine. We can all be helpful to the vulnerable, but being on the frontline, diagnosing and treating patients, was my main drive to pursue medicine.

Pediatrics as a specialty wasn’t something I considered before starting my clinical rotations. However, I enjoyed it so much during my clinical training that it quickly became the only specialty I applied for during Match. Seeing how resilient the children are while fighting their illnesses is very rewarding. Plus, the cuteness factor is very real!

Since graduating from pharmacy school in 2010, I was fascinated by the hematology/oncology field, and it is my goal to sub-specialize in it once I successfully finish my residency.

SGU: What was the application process to SGU like and how did you feel once you were accepted?

Dr. Hussein: My application process to SGU was seamless, which I believe was the case for my colleagues as well. There was always someone to contact for questions, aid, or just reassurance.

Once I got the news about my acceptance, I felt that I was about to embark on a new journey that would require hard work, day in and day out, to reach my destination—MD.

SGU: How did you participate in campus life at SGU?

Dr. Hussein: I enjoyed the extracurricular selectives offered by SGU, such as dissection (Anatomy Cadaver lab) and wilderness medicine. The new campus gym and the intramural soccer league were my favorite physical activity to participate in on campus.

SGU: What was your favorite aspect of living in Grenada and what do you miss most?

Dr. Hussein: THE BEACH! And I can’t forget to mention the beautiful sunsets.

SGU: How did SGU help you with your academic achievements and USMLE preparation?

Dr. Hussein: I came to find out that SGU has very high USMLE passing scores for a reason! The modules taught and tested during the basic science years are very detailed. I was provided with all the tools that I needed to do well in standardized exams, such as DES facilitators who helped me set up study schedules, go over materials that I didn’t grasp well, and many other things.

SGU: Where did you do your core clinical rotations and what was your experience like?

Dr. Hussein: I did my clinical rotations at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York. I had a wonderful experience rotating between different departments during my core rotations as well as my electives. Also, I met the love of my life in this hospital, who is currently my wife. So, this place will always be memorable!

 

“My application process to SGU was seamless, which I believe was the case for my colleagues as well. There was always someone to contact for questions, aid, or just reassurance. Once I got the news about my acceptance, I felt that I was about to embark on a new journey that would require hard work, day in and day out, to reach my destination—MD.”

 

SGU: What was the Match application process like for you?

Dr. Hussein: I believe the Matching process is one of the most stressful parts of the MD journey. However, preparing for it mentally by reaching out for advice from recent graduates and the Office of Career Guidance and Student Support helped me a lot.

It’s crucial to have a game plan to tackle the application process and interview season. But I was provided with assistance while still in Grenada. OCG provided me with a framework for filling out the application and my CV, and they provided reviews before the submission date. In addition, each clinical site has mentors that tailor their advice based on the students’ Step 1 grades, clinical performance, and the specialty they are applying for!

SGU: What did it feel like when you learned you Matched?

Dr. Hussein: I didn’t believe it. I kept checking the National Residency Matching Program website every five minutes to be sure!

SGU: Why was SGU the right fit for you?

Dr. Hussein: Coming from the Middle East, I didn’t have much information about the US healthcare system, which is very different from Egypt and the UAE (where I used to work). So, to be able to integrate myself into this system, I was looking for a medical school with a great track record of graduates matching with US hospitals. And the answer was SGU!

SGU: Do you have advice for international students (especially those from Egypt) considering medical school and insight on why they should consider SGU?

Dr. Hussein: Grenada is a wonderful island that accepts students from all over the globe and luckily for us (Egyptians) it doesn’t require a visa application process. In addition, in my experience, SGU was successful in matching me into the US healthcare system which is ultimately the goal.

SGU: Since graduating from SGU and matching in pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center Program, what has your transition from med student to MD been like?

Dr. Hussein: One thing I learned quickly in med school is you’ll never “feel” 100 percent prepared for an exam or patient encounter during clinical rotations! However, I channeled this self-doubt to do my best, analyze my shortcomings and try to address them before my next exam or patient encounter. With the same mindset, I tackled my first block of residency. It’s a lifetime journey of learning and it begins by being open to self, peer, and supervisor appraisals.

 

—Sarah Stoss

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SOM Grad: Becoming a clinical faculty member is a “great way” to give back

Dr. George Mammo may have graduated St. George’s University in 2017, but as a clinical professor and hospitalist at Humboldt Park Health, he interacts with future SGU doctors almost daily.

“I find it very rewarding because I was in their position not too long ago,” Dr. Mammo said of working with clinical students. “As a young attending, I see so much of myself in many of them. I feel that it’s a great way for me to give back.”

Humboldt Park Health is a 200-bed acute care hospital located in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago, IL. Formerly named Norwegian American Hospital, the institution rebranded in 2021 as part of a wider initiative to better serve its local community.

Dr. Mammo was part of the inaugural class of residents at the hospital. Now he is not only an attending physician there, but has joined SGU’s clinical faculty on site to teach third- and fourth-year med students the clinical skills they need to prepare them for residency.

SGU News asked Dr. Mammo what clinical students at Humboldt will learn and the lessons they will be able to take with them in their career.

St. George’s University: How long have you been a clinical faculty member?

Dr. Mammo: I’ve been part of the clinical faculty for six months now.

SGU: What are some of the day-to-day ways that you interact with SGU students?

Dr. Mammo: From bedside teaching rounds to lectures in clinical medicine, I directly interact with students on a one-on-one basis and guide them in their development as clinicians, especially in their ability to formulate a differential diagnosis and plan of care for a patient. I emphasize to students and residents that the diagnosis in the vast majority of cases can be narrowed down from collecting a detailed history and physical examination, and this is mastered by the art of applying the full breadth of pathophysiological knowledge that is unique to their journey as a physician-in-training.

SGU: What are some of the skills that students might acquire over the course of their time here?

Dr. Mammo: I would say the two most important skills that students should acquire are first, how to take a thorough history from a patient. And with that history, learn how to narrow down their differential diagnosis to come up with what will be the ultimate best course of action and best treatment route for that patient. But it all starts with taking a good history. From day one I try to impart that in the students. I just can’t emphasize that enough. As they improve their physical examination skills they will also improve their clinical skills.

SGU: Why did you choose medicine as your career path? What appealed to you about going to med school?

Dr. Mammo: I chose to go to medical school wanting to understand the fabric that binds and connects us as humans, and by understanding this fabric to solve the problem of pain and suffering. I have always imagined that if we can alleviate people’s pain, physically, mentally, and emotionally, that there is hope in the healing of the human condition, and years later I see this positive impact on countless lives on a daily basis in practice.

SGU: What fascinates you about family medicine? Why did you choose that specialty?

Dr. Mammo: Family medicine is really the one specialty that allows you to do the most good for the most amount of people. It allows you to be as specific and focused, yet as well-rounded and skilled as you’d like, or as general as you’d like. You can really tailor your practice and the way that you approach medicine, see patients, and take care of patients.

SGU: How did you choose SGU and how would you describe your SGU experience?

Dr. Mammo: I was born in the metro Detroit area, definitely a blue-collar city, to immigrants from the Middle East. Throughout my life, they gave me all the virtues of hard work, persistence, and committing myself fully to the goals that I set for myself and my life.

What piqued my interest in going to SGU was the fact that it’s probably the most diverse place where you can go to get a medical education. In my experience at SGU, it was phenomenal and wonderful to get to know people from all over the world. Not just from the US or Canada, or even students from the local area in the West Indies, but from all over—Brazil, Italy, China, South Asia, Africa, and the rest of the world. I don’t think you would get that experience anywhere else. So I think it just enriched my experience of being a student in a way that being at an American medical school you may not get.

SGU: What is one piece of advice that you would like to pass on to students to be successful in their clinical education?

Dr. Mammo: My advice to all students would be that medicine is a profession of lifelong learning. And so as you approach every milestone and move forward, remember that we’re all students of medicine for life and we’re always learning and that includes even when we get into practice.

In addition, always remember that, whatever it was that fueled you to go into medicine, keep it there and allow that to continue to be what drives you to do the best thing for your patient. But that requires you to continue to learn, stay up to date, and always be a student of medicine.

 

 

– Brett Mauser and Laurie Chartorynsky

 

 

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Grad Performs Life-Changing Heart Surgery for 9-Year-Old Ukrainian

Photo courtesy of Catholic Health – St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center®

Dr. Sean Levchuck is a 1989 St. George’s University graduate.

One of St. George’s University’s very own alumni came through during a time of need for a 9-year-old girl from Ukraine, performing life-changing heart surgery free of charge.

Through the Gift of Life program, Sean Levchuck, MD ’89, the chair of pediatric cardiology at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, NY, performed a non-invasive Amplatzer ASD Occluder procedure that closed a hole in the child’s heart.

“It is always a special day when you can give an assist to someone who is struggling through tough times,” said Dr. Levchuck, according to the news article featured on Catholic Health’s website. “It’s especially great given the circumstances that surround this little girl’s case. She comes to St. Francis from a country that is in pieces and going through the worst of times. I know I speak for the whole team when I say how honored, blessed, and grateful we are to be given the opportunity to help this beautiful child live a long and healthy life.”

 

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SVM grad teaches next generation of production medicine veterinarians

Growing up on a dairy farm, Hollie Schramm, DVM ’07, learned early on what it felt like to be a veterinarian and the experience shaped her future career path.

“I was always trying to fix and treat animals on the farm and make them healthy,” Dr. Schramm said.

Since graduating from St. George’s University, Dr. Schramm has served as the herd veterinarian for over 10 years at the Virginia Tech Dairy Teaching and Research Farm. In addition, Dr. Schramm is a clinical assistant professor at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a role for which she is responsible for assuring the welfare and health of production animals, safety of the food supply, and teaching veterinary students—including SGU clinical students—in the field, classroom, and in hands-on laboratories. She does clinical and didactic teaching, research, and outreach.

She shares what it’s like in her role as a both a teacher and a large animal veterinarian, and what students can expect to learn in their clinical experience at VA/MD.

St. George’s University: What kind of experience can students expect at VA/MD?

Dr. Schramm: In my role, I’m in charge of the overall management of the calves and cows. We do a lot of preventative medicine and reproductive work, working with sick cows, helping with general health and vaccination protocols, and different aspects of hygiene. As a clinical professor, I oversee veterinary students on the production management medicine rotation, where we primarily work with food animals, including beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, camelids, and pigs.

SGU: What do you hope is the biggest takeaway for clinical students?

Dr. Schramm: We want to provide our students with as much hands-on experience, so that they’re ready on the first day of veterinary practice. My motto is really “see one, do one, teach one.” We have a range of clinical skills laboratories, from foot trimming to surgical techniques. I also teach a class called Food Animal Clinical Techniques where the students learn low stress cattle handling, everything from putting on halters to basic injections and beef quality assurance. If you ask the students, they will tell you that they get the most hands-on experience in the production management rotation.

 

“We want to provide our students with as much hands-on experience, so that they’re ready on the first day of veterinary practice.”

 

SGU: How much does research play a part of your job?

Dr. Schramm: I do approximately 15 percent research as part of my job responsibilities. Many of the research studies I collaborate on are related to ruminant nutrition, but range from pain management in ruminants to prevention and treatment of mastitis to calf behavior and welfare. We have a few studies related to the pathophysiology of milk production, including how many times we milk the cow per day and whether that has a positive or negative effect on production and what controls this at the cellular level.  These studies are very informative for the dairy industry. We know that it’s important for the future of the world and for sustainable agriculture.

 

Hollie Schramm, DVM ’07, teaches animal production medicine to clinical students at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

SGU: What drew you to production medicine in the first place?

Dr. Schramm: It’s just in my blood. I grew up on a large farm in Michigan. We had a small dairy herd of about 60 cows, and we also had everything from sheep and goats to hundreds of rabbits. We had all kinds of critters honestly. I was always trying to fix and treat animals on the farm and make them healthy.

I also really enjoyed the management and nutritional sides of animal health, which led me to veterinary school. It has been great doing what I love and making a difference in the field for both the veterinary students as well as the producers. Food animal veterinarians are key in food safety and are important for everybody in America and the world.

SGU: Why did you choose SGU and what was your experience like?

Dr. Schramm: Growing up, I traveled abroad a lot, and honestly, I never applied to any US schools. I just decided I wanted to continue my journey traveling and saw SGU as a great opportunity to learn veterinary medicine on an island.

I had an awesome experience at SGU. I absolutely loved the island. We had wonderful professors, and we all knew them on a personal level, which was very nice. I enjoyed being able to interact with them and ask them questions. They made time for us, which I think is something a little bit different from other universities.

SGU: You’re giving back now as a clinical professor. How can a student be successful during their clinical year?

Dr. Schramm: Believing in yourself is very important. Veterinary students can sometimes be apprehensive about saying or doing the wrong thing, or worried about what someone is going to say to them. But that’s what we as professors are here for—to teach and to answer your questions. I would tell anyone to go into clinics with a great attitude, to communicate well with your clients and colleagues, and to have fun.

 

— Brett Mauser

 

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From tigers to canines: SVM grad finds her path as a vet oral surgeon

As a board-certified dentist and oral surgeon, Dr. Chanda Miles, DVM ’06, has treated all types of animals for their oral health—including tigers, an Asian small-clawed otter, an American River otter, chimpanzees, a Silverback gorilla, gibbons, opossums, skunks, and chinchillas, not to mention cats and dogs.

Dr. Miles credits St. George’s University for helping her become comfortable with surgical procedures. At SGU, “we were able to perform a large amount and variety of general surgeries that helped me shape my love for surgery and later form my decision to pursue dentistry and oral surgery,” Dr. Miles said.

Earlier this year, Dr. Miles and a colleague co-opened Veterinary Dentistry Specialists in Katy, Texas to answer the high demand for pet oral care in the greater Houston area.

Dr. Miles didn’t set out to be a veterinary dentist at first. While working as a new veterinarian, she was tasked with overseeing several dentistry procedures a day but found herself frequently asking for help from colleagues since she had little dentistry training. She wanted to learn more and decided to attend an intense three-day weekend course to learn “everything that I could about dentistry for animals,” Dr. Miles recalled.

“It was then that I realized I had a passion for dentistry and oral surgery. It was calming and came easy to me,” she said. To refine her skills, she pursued a residency in the specialty at the University of Wisconsin in Madison—and the rest, as they say, was history.

Dr. Miles spoke to SGU News about why she is passionate about dentistry, new technology in the field that improves her patient care, and what advice she would give to new veterinary students just starting out.

St. George’s University: What types of patients do you see and what are some examples of the procedures that you perform?  

Dr. Miles: I work with primarily cats and dogs, but we can treat exotic patients if they are in need.  I love working with large cats such as tigers, leopards, etc.

I treat all kinds of conditions: I perform procedures in periodontics, endodontics (root canals), oral surgery (extractions, jaw fracture repair, surgical resections, prosthodontics (crowns), orthodontics, and oral medicine.

Dr. Miles has performed dental services on animals at the Houston Zoo. Photo published with the approval of the Houston Zoo.

SGU: Why are you passionate about the vet dentistry field?  

Dr. Miles: It gives me instant gratification of accomplishing something good for the patient who benefits remarkably from it. When patients have a healthy, comfortable mouth they can have an excellent quality of life. It isn’t a discipline that is taught readily in vet school so I’m also passionate about teaching it appropriately to general practitioners as well.

SGU: Tell us about your new clinic.  

Dr. Miles: VDS is a stand-alone specialty dentistry and oral surgery practice with a full-time board-certified anesthesiologist. We offer advanced imaging (cone beam CT) and are equipped with modern anesthesia monitoring equipment.

My colleague, Dr. Carlos Rice, opened the first VDS in Mt. Laurel, NJ and then a second one with another colleague in Chadds Ford, PA. Dr. Rice and I decided that opening one in the greater Houston area (where I live) would be a great addition to the VDS family. There is a big demand for dentistry in Houston’s pet population.

SGU: What is the most challenging part of the job? 

Dr. Miles: On a day-to-day basis it’s keeping the flow of the day manageable.  One patient can throw a curve ball in the whole day with unexpected pathology that needs treatment. Because we provide outpatient care, it’s important to treat our patients with completeness, but also make sure they have enough recovery time to be discharged adequately.

My other big challenge that I face at times is treating complicated maxillofacial traumas in young dogs.  These can be very difficult to treat when they have both deciduous and permanent dentition at the same time and are still growing.

SGU: What new technology or procedures have developed to help you do your job?

Dr. Miles: Cone beam CT has been a game changer for me. This is an imaging modality that allows me to render 3D images of my patient’s skull for complete evaluation of maxillofacial trauma. It also gives me precise images for small things such as early endodontic lesions. The imaging is crystal clear and helps me understand the extent of pathology in many facets.

What made you pursue veterinary medicine? 

Dr. Miles: It sounds cliché, but I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian since I was little.  At the minimum I knew I wanted to pursue something in the medical field.

SGU: How has your training at SGU helped you succeed, specifically in your specialized career?

Dr. Miles: Having spent time at two separate universities for my clinical year and residency, I was around many specialists that were teaching students and the SGU professors were far more compassionate in their teaching and encouragement to us.

One of the key takeaways in my training at SGU was surgical preparation. We were able to perform a large amount and variety of general surgeries that helped me shape my love for surgery and later form my decision to pursue dentistry and oral surgery.

Photo published with the approval of the Houston Zoo.

SGU: What was your clinical year like at Kansas State University? What takeaway would you pass on to students?

Dr. Miles: I absolutely loved Kansas State! Every clinician and student was so incredibly nice at this school. I learned so much on each and every rotation.

The biggest takeaway from my clinical year that I would pass on to students would be to participate in every rounds session and conversation that you have. The clinicians want you to be engaged.

SGU: What would you say to an aspiring vet student considering going to SGU? 

Dr. Miles: Do it! It’s an experience of a lifetime and you will get an education like nowhere else in the US!  SGU provided me with so much more than my degree and I loved that the school offered flexible matriculation. I didn’t want to wait another year to apply to vet school.

 

 

 

— Laurie Chartorynsky

 

 

 

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SOM grad returns to train the next generation of physicians

Before deciding to attend medical school at St. George’s University, Michael Keenaghan, MD ’06, considered entering the field of astrophysics with hopes of becoming an astronaut. He had been filled with a desire to both “know” everything and to help people. However, it was a family friend and former chair of pediatrics who recommended he apply to SGU, which inspired him on the path to specializing in pediatric critical care.

Not only does Dr. Keenaghan have a passion for his specialty of choice, that passion also extends to teaching the next generation of medical students. Since completing his residency training at SUNY Downstate (he served an additional year as chief resident) and his fellowship at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital Columbia University, Dr. Keenaghan has been involved in academic medicine. At NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County, where he worked for the past eight years, he was the associate director of pediatric critical care and associate chief academic officer. While there he developed and managed a pediatric simulation center focused on developing trainees’ procedural skills.

In 2013, he took on an associate professor position at SGU where he assisted students at patients’ bedsides at Kings County hospital. Three years later, he was appointed associate medical director of education and became involved with advising students initially with SGU’s Office of Career Guidance and then through its onsite student advisors.

But little did he know that his two passions would eventually lead him back to Grenada one day. Earlier this year, Dr. Keenaghan accepted a full time position within the School of Medicine as an assistant dean of students, moving with his family back to the island. In this new position, Dr. Keenaghan manages SOM’s academic advisors for clinical students. He discussed with SGU News his new role, how it feels to also teach Term 5 SOM students, and his plans to work with Grenada General Hospital to support and grow its pediatric critical care service.

St. George’s University: Can you share why you wanted to come back to Grenada and work at your alma mater?

Dr. Keenaghan: I was given a great opportunity to help students achieve their academic goals, as well as provide pediatric critical care support for the children of Grenada.

One of the best rewards in being an intensivist, after caring for an extremely sick child—a day, a week, or a month later when all the lines and breathing tubes have been removed—they smile. It is a priceless moment.

SGU: What are you most passionate about in your work?

Dr. Keenaghan: Each doctor, over the course of their career can contribute to about 2,000-2,500 extra patient lives lived. In pediatric intensive care, if I do my job well, I may contribute far more since my patients are so young. However, being able to help many more caring people become doctors every year, multiples that logarithmically. Alone I can help some, but together we can help the world. Being a teacher and assistant dean at SGU truly makes that possible.

SGU: Share what your experience was like at SGU and its impact on your life?

Dr. Keenaghan: I met my future wife a month before moving to Grenada in 2002.  Being 2,100 miles apart, she kept me focused on my studies and not distracted. She was my greatest support when school was the hardest. I think without her I wouldn’t be a doctor, but without SGU there would be no us, and our five amazing boys. Grenada gave me my first two dogs, lifelong friends throughout the world, and now is the place that I call home. I’d say it had a pretty large impact.

SGU: How well do you feel that SGU prepared you for the next step in your journey?

Dr. Keenaghan: I felt extremely prepared. I learned to persevere when things may not be in my favor, which has helped me on to all the next steps. From those lessons I learned the power of second chances, both in my own experiences and in my patients.

SGU: What plans do you have for the future in your new role?

Dr. Keenaghan: They are too numerous to count, but I’ll start with growing the Clinical Academic Advising Development and Support team and services to continue to help students succeed. Also, providing support to the healthcare professionals at the Grenada General Hospital in any way they need.

SGU: What advice would you give to prospective students who are considering applying to SGU?

Dr. Keenaghan: Don’t hesitate to follow your dream. Dedicating yourself to study and becoming a physician means giving up a few things for a few years. While pursuing your MD there are no immediate rewards along the way, but the long-term ones are worth every minute and every penny. Sitting in biochemistry learning about mitochondria for the third time, may not be the most fun, but standing in the ICU remembering that methylene blue improves mitochondrial respiration and starting it on a patient with severe shock, then saving their life, that’s worth it.

 

 

– Ray-Donna Peters

 

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A desire to make an impact leads SGU grad to become an expert in LGBTQIA+ healthcare

Asa Radix, MD ’88, PhD, MPH decided to pursue medicine out of a desire to offer patient-centered healthcare in an often-overlooked community in need.  Dr. Radix’s career has focused on LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Ally, plus) health and policy and being able to ensure patients receive quality care that is respectful, non-judgmental, and meets the unique needs of members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Dr. Radix is originally from Grenada and attended SGU on one of the first Grenadian scholarships. They currently serve as senior director of research and education at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York City—which has a mission to serve LGBTQIA+ communities and people with HIV.

In addition to their work at Callen-Lorde, Dr. Radix is a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University and holds faculty appointments at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Yale University. Over the years, they’ve developed expertise in transgender health and contributed to several US and international clinical practice guidelines and textbooks.

In honor of pride month, SGU News spoke with Dr. Radix to find out more about their experience providing care to the LGBTQIA+ community and the journey to becoming an expert in this field.

St. George’s University: Why did you choose your specialty?

Dr. Radix: I trained in internal medicine and then completed a fellowship in infectious disease. Infectious disease is a broad specialty, but it is a good field for people who like clinical practice as well as research. I like the diversity of the specialty. You can focus on many different areas such as travel medicine, global health, antibiotic stewardship, and emerging infectious diseases as well as a choice of inpatient or outpatient settings.

I mainly focus on HIV and Hepatitis C but still see patients with a wide variety of issues.

SGU: What are some unique medical needs of the LGBTQIA+ community? 

Dr. Radix: Members of the LGBTQIA+ community also have other social identities or groups to which they belong with varying health priorities. There are some issues that are common for all, such as difficulty in finding respectful healthcare providers as well as frequently facing discrimination in health settings. As a result, LGBTQIA+ individuals may underutilize cancer screening interventions, and there are often higher rates of substance abuse, including tobacco use, which is probably related to experiencing social stressors such as interpersonal and structural discrimination. In addition, it is important for medical providers to offer appropriate HIV/STI screenings and HIV prevention interventions (e.g., pre-exposure prophylaxis) to those who are eligible.

SGU: What training can physicians interested in working in LGBTQIA+ healthcare participate in?

Dr. Radix: There isn’t a specialty in LGBTQIA+ health. However, there are healthcare environments with a mission to care for LGBTQIA+ individuals, such as health centers like Callen-Lorde or dedicated clinics at other institutions. Many require training in a primary care specialty, such as internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics. Usually, these centers provide training in LGBTQIA+ health since most incoming providers have not had adequate experience during their medical school or residency training.

There are also organizations, such as GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality and The LGBT Health Workforce Conference that hold annual meetings for clinicians who are interested in this field.

SGU: When you look back at your professional journey to this point, what stands out to you most as being the most formative experiences?

Dr. Radix: I trained in the early 1990s when HIV was one of the most important and prevalent health issues that we saw. It was also a time when there were few therapeutic options available. Taking care of individuals living with HIV was a major motivation for pursuing a fellowship in infectious disease.

SGU: How did your experience at SGU help prepare you for your career?

Dr. Radix: I was fortunate to do most of my clinical rotations in the United Kingdom and to be exposed to a diverse student body throughout my SGU experience. The love of travel continued, and I completed a diploma in tropical medicine in London during my infectious disease fellowship as well as a Master of Philosophy in epidemiology at Cambridge, later leading to a PhD at Columbia University.

—Sarah Stoss

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SGU School of Medicine Holds Graduation Ceremonies for Class of 2022

St. George’s University School of Medicine celebrated its 41st commencement this weekend in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“The faculty, staff, and administration of St. George’s University extend our heartiest congratulations to the class of 2022,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of SGU. “Our graduates have accomplished so much, and we’re thrilled to send them on their way into careers as physicians.”

The St. George’s University class of 2022 will join a network of more than 19,000 alumni practicing in the United States and around the world. Later this month, they’ll begin residency programs in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia in several competitive specialties, including surgery, emergency medicine, and psychiatry. SGU also sends many graduates into high-need primary care specialties, such as internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine.

A significant share of SGU alumni work in medically underserved areas, and many have served on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SGU is the largest source of licensed physicians for the entire U.S. workforce. The country could face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“Our graduates are well-equipped to deliver top-notch care — and to tackle the most pressing problems facing our healthcare system,” said Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor of SGU. “They will no doubt have a long-lasting positive impact on the lives of countless patients.”

 

 

 

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SGU Confers Degrees to School of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2022

St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine inaugurated a new class of veterinarians at commencement this weekend in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“We’re delighted to recognize the achievements of the class of 2022,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of the SGU School of Veterinary Medicine. “These new veterinarians have demonstrated perseverance and dedication that will serve them well as they transition into careers in animal healthcare.”

The class of 2022 will enter the workforce at a time when demand for veterinary services is surging. The United States will need up to 41,000 more veterinarians by 2030 to meet the healthcare needs of companion animals alone.

In addition to caring for household pets, the newest graduates of St. George’s School of Veterinary Medicine will take on various roles essential to public health, such as studying how diseases jump from animals to humans and ensuring that our food supply can keep up with demand.

St. George’s offers students an international approach to veterinary medicine. It maintains partnerships with universities in several other countries, including the United States and Canada. Students also have access to a number of unique research opportunities in Grenada.

“The need for highly skilled veterinarians has never been clearer,” Dr. Olson said . “We’re looking forward to watching our newest crop of graduates meet this demand and create positive change in the animal—and human—world.”

 

 

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Ukraine-born grad travels to Poland to help refugees in need

International medical and humanitarian assistance groups and volunteers from around the world have been traveling to border cities to provide aid and medical care to Ukraine refugees, including Dr. Mariya Vengrenyuk, a 2016 graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine.

Dr. Vengrenyuk splits her time as a travel hospitalist and as a clinical investigator working on vaccine trials for pharmaceutical product development. She was born in the Ukraine and moved to the US when she was nine.

Feeling an emotional pull to help her native country’s people, Dr. Vengrenyuk has traveled to the Poland-Ukraine border at Przemysl with SSF-Rescuers Without Borders, a medical relief agency dedicated to help people in distress. Following her work with SSF, she will also visit her hometown of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine with the organization, Revived Soldiers Ukraine.

Before leaving, Dr. Vengrenyuk shared why she wanted to offer her services in this capacity and how her training at SGU prepared her for this journey.

St. George’s University: How did you get involved with both organizations?

Dr. Vengrenyuk: I learned about SSF through my colleagues. A few doctors from Philadelphia that I know from residency training volunteered with SSF in March 2022.

As for Revived Soldiers Ukraine, I have been volunteering with this organization for the last few years. I traveled to Ukraine in the summer of 2021 twice. We opened a physical therapy rehabilitation in Irpin (a city outside Kyiv that was heavily shelled recently). Our rehab still stands now that Russian troops retreated from this area.

We have been bringing wounded soldiers to the US. Our organization president finds hospitals who treat them pro-bono or we purchase health insurance to help cover surgery costs.

 

 

SGU: What are you expecting to see when you get there? What kinds of tasks/treatments/aid will you give to refugees?

Dr. Vengrenyuk: I think my role will be providing urgent care type of evaluations. I speak Ukrainian, Russian, and I can understand Polish—so I can help translate medical information.

With SSF, this is a medical tent clinic that is located right at the border. Many refugees are people who left their home with minimal belongings. Some will have missed their medications for weeks. I expect to see patients with chest pain, possible URIs, diabetics with hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, uncontrolled blood pressure, minor wounds, skin infections, etc. I know that many women have been sexually abused and some are pregnant. This is difficult to talk about, but we may be the first health personnel they encounter after these terrible experiences. I will also see many people with acute stress disorders, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

SGU: How have you emotionally prepared for the trip?

Dr. Vengrenyuk: I am glad I did not fly there in February or March. At that point I was in a state of shock, I was crying every day. I needed to learn to cope with the war myself before I could go and provide care to others impacted.

SGU: Why do you feel it was important for you to volunteer in this capacity?

Dr. Vengrenyuk: I am in a position to help. I speak the language. I understand where these people come from. I have medical training. It may not be combat training—but I think any medical background will help during moments like these. I am young, healthy, I do not have a family of my own, I feel I am in a position to give back. I can also help financially. I was lucky to have moved to the US at age nine when my parents won the green card. Had we still lived in Ukraine—we could have been the ones crossing this same border as refugees.

SGU: How has your training at SGU prepared you for this type of medical assistance?

Dr. Vengrenyuk: SGU was an incredible experience, I am very proud that I went to SGU. It opened a world of opportunities for me. First of all, going to Grenada was the first time I left my parent’s home. In college, I lived with my parents. It was a brave first step to pursue my dream and try something unknown.

I think my SGU experience prepared me to always be ready for new opportunities and to learn to adapt quickly. I made many connections at SGU with doctors who now practice all over the world. I stay in touch with several SGU graduates.

SGU: What kind of characteristics/traits does a doctor need to have to function in a war-zone environment?

Dr. Vengrenyuk: I think you need to be brave, rational, and selfless. I love people in general and if I can lessen their pain, whether physical or emotional, I will try my best to do it.

Also, you need to be compassionate but not emotional. You need to be ready to see and hear terrible stories but not let it impact you to the point where you cannot help. You need to be open to learn new skills quickly.

SGU: Anything else you would like to share about the trip?

Dr. Vengrenyuk: I plan to do more trips like this, hopefully I can go back to the Ukraine in August.

 

 

 

— Laurie Chartorynsky

 

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