In a guest column for Healthcare Technology Online, SGU graduate Linda Girgis, MD SGU ’94, writes about how health care providers are slowing the advancement of technology in the medical field.
Craig Weeks is turning his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor into reality through a partnership between his alma mater, Franklin Pierce University, and St. George’s University.
Since September 2011, Franklin Pierce students have had the opportunity to enroll in a program that enables them to pursue a career in medicine at SGU upon successful completion of their undergraduate premedical program at Franklin Pierce. The agreement is one of nearly 20 international affiliations with undergraduate institutions leading to a pathway to either the SGU School of Medicine or School of Veterinary Medicine.
Mr. Weeks, who obtained his Bachelor of Science in biology from FPU in 2006, was one of the first FPU graduates to continue his medical career at SGU. Now a fourth-year MD student doing his clinical rotations at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit, Mr. Weeks, is a strong advocate for the affiliation, and even delivered a presentation on it to science students at Franklin Pierce last spring. He believes that he has been very well prepared for this phase of his medical education by SGU and FPU.
“Franklin Pierce teaches students to think rather than memorize and regurgitate, and at SGU, you do a lot of self-guided learning,” Mr. Weeks said. “This really prepares you for clinical rotations and your career in medicine. I’ve always been fascinated by science and medicine. The field constantly evolves and advances and there are always new things to learn.”
Coming into SGU, Mr. Weeks optimized his international experience by joining the University’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), in which SGU students spend their first year of the MD program at Northumbria University in the UK.
“It is great to be exposed to so much diversity,” he said. “You learn about communicating with people from different cultures, as well as relevant health care issues in your classmates’ home countries.”
More than 100 students expressed their commitment to the profession of veterinary medicine at the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony, held on August 20 at Bourne Lecture Hall on the True Blue campus. The future veterinarians came from near and far, with eight countries represented in the Fall 2013 class, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Grenada, and as far away as Taiwan.
Dr. Lila Miller, cofounder of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV), and vice president of veterinary outreach at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), delivered the keynote speech, challenging the incoming students to be aware of the role of veterinarians in animal welfare, and the moral and ethical obligations in the field.
“So often animal welfare is not at the forefront of what we’re being taught,” Dr. Miller said. “We have many obligations as veterinarians that we sometimes have to wonder – where does animal welfare fit in? The American Veterinary Medical Association defined veterinarians as ‘the medical authority for health and welfare of animals,’ so it is incumbent upon your class to ensure we get there. You have the advantage at this spectacular University with a melting pot of cultural experiences and knowledge.
“The next few years are going to be exciting and challenging, and I encourage you to approach everything you’re going to learn with an open mind and learn as much as you can about animal welfare,” she added. “See where you can apply those principles in both your professional and personal lives, and be a vocal advocate to help position veterinarians as the leaders in animal welfare.
University Chancellor Dr. Charles Modica urged the students to take advantage of the opportunities at St. George’s University and remember the lifelong experiences they are sure to learn.
“You will meet people of different races, creed, cultures, and beliefs from all over the world,” he said. “If you take the opportunity to get to know them, work and learn with them, and be a part of this community, you will leave here not only with a degree, but some great human understanding that this world needs. If you can get along with everybody on this campus from all the countries represented, you’ve just managed to get along with everyone of this planet. It’s a greater opportunity than you might have envisioned when you chose this University.”
Alumnus and Master of Ceremonies Dr. Brittany King, DVM SGU ’10, encouraged the students to make their experience at St. George’s University their own. “You can do anything you dream, and if you dream it, your faculty and support group at St. George’s University can make it happen.”
Founded in 1999, the AVMA-accredited School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated over 800 veterinarians from 24 countries who have practiced in 47 US states and 10 countries around the world, including Canada, the UK, and South Africa.
In their official welcome to the medical profession, 782 incoming students took part in the St. George’s University School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony, taking their first step toward becoming doctors. The True Blue Campus in Grenada welcomed 696 students while 86 Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars took part in the White Coat Ceremony at Northumbria, UK.
Dr. Fred Jacobs, St. George’s University’s executive vice president and chair of its Department of Medicine, as keynote speaker at the Grenada ceremony, shared some experiences from his early years in the profession which had taught him significant lessons. “Always, the inspiration that comes from your patients will be the greatest lesson,” he said. “They will guide you in your path towards realizing your dream of becoming a doctor in the greatest sense.“
Dr. Jacobs recalled the ”magical moment” when he first knew he was a doctor, going from being scared and uncertain about facing his first patient to realizing he had the necessary training and knowledge. He also recalled learning that all patients had a right to the truth about their diagnosis and a right to share in decision making, and learning the importance of the relationship between a patient and doctor.
“The doctor-patient relationship is not based on knowledge or authority,” he said. “It is based on trust and human connection. It is the expression of humanism in medicine.”
Kara Schnarr, MD SGU ’11, master of ceremonies for the evening, told of her hopes and fears as a student, her love for Grenada, the UK and the US and her development into a global doctor because of her experiences at SGU. She encouraged the students to truly experience Grenada and its culture, to make friends and build a medical school family, and to persevere in their studies.
“The main difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back out there,” she said. “The road ahead of you is a challenging yet exciting one.”
The students were also welcomed and congratulated by Dr. Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University and Dr. the Right Honorable Keith C. Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada.
This year, the School of Medicine introduced its Alumni Mentor Scholarship Program recipients, who are nominated by graduates of the School of Medicine based on their academic excellence and commitment to the medical profession. Also, of the parents on hand to watch the ceremony, seven had participated in this very ceremony at SGU as first-year students some years before.
The alumni whose children are continuing their legacy at SGU had the unique opportunity to robe them in their white coats.
The Fall 2013 White Coat Ceremony in Grenada marked the 20-year anniversary, to the day, of the first-ever White Coat Ceremony, held on August 20, 1993, at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, as arranged by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. SGU held its first White Coat Ceremony, which emphasizes the importance of compassionate medical care, in 1996.
Boris Chulpayev, MD SGU ’09, opened an office that will provide neurological care at the CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh, NY. Dr. Chulpayev expressed that he is looking forward to filling a void in New York’s North Country.
FOX News followed our own Mary Jo Johnstone, MD SGU ’08, during her shift in the emergency room at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, NY.
In size, the 10-millimeter copper device created by St. George’s University alumnus Ahmad Firas Khalid and two colleagues may not seem like much. In impact, however, it may dramatically improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.
Dr. Khalid’s creation will allow rural water sources, such as this one in Kenya, to provide clean water for the masses.
The 2009 graduate and Drs. Padma Venkat and Caroline Kisia were the recipients of a $100,000 CDN Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) Proof-of-Concept Grant for the development of a low-cost water purifying copper device that has been proven to kill deadly water-borne pathogens.
“More than one billion people lack access to improved water supply, which is a basic human right,” said Dr. Khalid, who with Drs. Venkat and Kisia are also students in the International Masters for Health Leadership (IMHL) program at McGill University, Canada. “The absence of purified water causes infectious diarrhea resulting in up to 2.2 million deaths per year in children under age 5, and while it is a particularly dire situation in India and Africa, it’s a global issue in need of a sustainable solution. This could be the solution we’ve been looking for to save millions of lives.”
The device, which will be field-tested in rural Kenya and India, is placed into a container of water and purifies its contents within 24 hours. According to Dr. Khalid, “it costs less than $10 US to manufacturer; it is safe, effective; easy to use, requires no electricity, and lasts a lifetime.”
Dr. Khalid, together with Drs. Venkat, director of the Institute for Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (I-AIM) in Bangalore, India, and Kisia, director of Action Africa, a non-governmental organization in Kenya, has 18 months to implement and prove the sustainability of the project. Once successful, they will then be offered a $1 million CDN ‘Transition-to-Scale,’ grant. Their hope is to develop a business model that manufactures and supplies copper devices on a global scale.
As the project manager, Dr. Khalid stated, “It is no longer enough for physicians to be involved in research, but what is really important is implementing the medical advances that people are in need of. I am grateful to St. George’s University for instilling in me that research is a continuous and critical process.”
As the first recipient of St. George’s University’s Student Humanitarian Award in 2007, Dr. Khalid recalled making a commitment to help underprivileged people throughout the world. “The world-class education I received from SGU opened many doors for me that I never thought was possible. My medical journey took me from Grenada to St. Vincent, to London, UK, and now I’m in Canada,” he said, “Because of this, I was able to appreciate medicine and its global impact. SGU has provided a remarkable opportunity for my career and was the stepping stone to where I am today.”
Upon graduating in 2009, Dr. Khalid, who is originally from Jordan, went to teach medical practice in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and did his clinical rotations in London. Currently he is a medical professor at Ottawa, Ontario Canada and worked with the World Health Organization on maternal-fetal health programmes in Geneva.
A jubilant class of 178 St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and Graduate Studies Program (GSP) graduates received their degrees from Dr. Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University, on May 18, 2013 at the 2013 commencement held on campus in Grenada.
The 2013 SAS/GSP class had the distinct honor of being addressed by Her Excellency Dr. Cecile La Grenade, first female Governor General of Grenada and Managing Director of De La Grenade Industries for 21 years. In her inspiring address, Her Excellency encouraged the graduates to continue learning, developing and growing and to aspire for great things.
“You are all now standing on the threshold of future greatness and the tools of personal success have been imparted to you,” Her Excellency began her address. ”As you begin your new adventure, it is now up to you to blaze forth a trail of activities which create value to your jobs and business ventures alike.”
The Distinguished Service Award, St. George’s University’s highest honor, was bestowed on Dr. John B. Davidson in recognition of and gratitude for his outstanding contribution to St. George’s University, his role in the development of the biochemistry department and its survival following Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and his long-standing friendship with the University.
Coincidentally, School of Arts and Sciences valedictorian, Karla Hood, spoke to her fellow graduates on making the most of every opportunity. MBA graduate Gwen Burbank, spoke on finding the best place to be, which she described as “the place where you feel what is right for you and what is good for the world at exactly the same time”.
The graduates, who represent 12 countries, join the over 13,000 St. George’s University graduates in medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, and other professions and disciplines who have worked in over 50 countries around the world.
No case is the same for Louis Guida, MD, president and CEO of Bay Shore Allergy and Asthma Specialty Practice in New York. However, the foundation from which he operates – a Doctor of Medicine degree from St. George’s University – remains a constant in his day-to-day activity.
“Anybody can be a doctor, but it takes a very special person to be a physician,” Dr. Guida said. “St. George’s University teaches its students to be well-rounded physicians.”
He has plenty of company as well. Dr. Guida, SGU ’84, was one of 86 physicians named on Castle Connolly Medical’s annual list of Top Doctors in the US. For the second straight year, Dr. Joseph Galati, SGU MD ’87, a gastroenterologist at Methodist Hospital System in Houston, TX, was selected to the America’s Top Doctors® list, which represents the top 1 percent of specialists/subspecialists in the nation. Others were selected as regional top doctors, rated in the top 10 percent in their region within their specialized area.
Altogether, the 2013 database included a 13 percent increase of SGU alumni from the previous year.
“Castle Connolly recognizes the very best physicians in the United States, and we are proud that so many of our alumni are highly regarded by their peers,” said Margaret A. Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning at St. George’s University. “That they specialize in a wide variety of fields speaks to the quality and breadth of education offered by SGU, and we look forward to producing even more individuals of these physicians’ caliber in the years to come.”
Founded in 1992 by John K. Castle and Dr. John J. Connolly, Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., surveys tens of thousands of physicians, who can nominate outstanding doctors in every specialty in their region or anywhere in the US. A physician-led research team evaluates nominees’ candidacy in aspects that include medical education, professional achievements, administrative posts, and malpractice and disciplinary history. Castle Connolly selects those physicians for either regional or national recognition based on the nominations and the credentials’ review, and doctors cannot and do not pay to be included in the guide and/or online database.
Jill MacLeese was certainly not thinking of ophthalmology when she enrolled in veterinary school. However, it did not take long for her to fall in love with the specialty, and her passion for ophthalmology has intensified ever since. Now a three-year resident at the Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island (VMCLI) in New York, Dr. MacLeese could not be happier with the path she has taken.
“The more ophthalmology I was exposed to, the more I loved it,” she said. “Many people tend to become uneasy when faced with ophthalmology cases but I’ve always been fascinated with the field.”
An ophthalmologic case of uveitis, or inflammation to the uvea portion of the eye, during her second year at SGU sparked her interest in the specialty. However, it wasn’t until her clinical year at North Carolina State University that her desire to pursue an ophthalmology residency was solidified. At the 2010 American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ACVO) conference opportunity knocked in the form of a chance meeting with Dr. Noelle La Croix, DACVO, an ophthalmologist at VMCLI. Dr. MacLeese was granted a specialty internship in ophthalmology at the practice and in July 2012 began a coveted veterinary ophthalmology residency in a position that VMCLI made exclusively for her.
The position has her working on a variety of ophthalmology cases, predominantly treating small animals, while also examining horses, birds, rabbits and other exotic species. In addition, she works one night per week in emergency medicine and travels to the University of Pennsylvania monthly for ocular histopathology rounds.
“I love it here,” Dr. MacLeese said. “It’s very busy practice; I see approximately 15 to 20 cases a day, so I’m getting a lot of clinical experience.”
Dr. MacLeese has given back to the University by working as a student liaison representative, while also talking about her SGU experience at a number of the University’s information session. She feels strongly about speaking on the University’s behalf as it has laid the foundation for her professional success.
“I have always felt just as prepared as any of my veterinary counterparts from state schools,” Dr. MacLeese said. “I had a wonderful time in Grenada and wouldn’t change my experience there for anything in the world.”