Advice from Resident of the Year: “Hard Work Always Pays Off”

Hrant Gevorgian, MD/MPH ’21, recently received the honor of being named “Resident of the Year” by the New Jersey Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Gevorgian is a PGY-2 emergency medicine resident at Rutgers Health/Community Medical Center.

A native of Los Angeles, CA, Dr. Gevorgian also recently won first place for the Research Abstract Competition at the NJ-ACEP 2022 Scientific Assembly. His abstract explored how the opioid buprenorphine is administered in the emergency department. He and his team developed a withdrawal scoring system program for patients receiving buprenorphine to help avoid opioid addiction.

Dr. Gevorgian, whose first name means “unextinguishable fire” in Armenian, shared with SGU News what winning Resident of the Year means to him, his most challenging experience in the emergency department so far, and his ABC’s of advice for aspiring physicians.

St. George’s University: What does receiving the Resident of the Year award mean to you?

Dr. Gevorgian: It’s extremely humbling and unexpected. It highlights the dedication and opportunities my first-year program offers residents. Every faculty member has provided enormous amounts of mentorship to help us succeed. I will continue challenging myself every day to push my limits and by mentoring to my co-interns who are all doing amazing things.

SGU: Why were you drawn to emergency medicine?

Dr. Gevorgian: I love working in a fast-paced environment and being exposed to a multitude of pathologies. I also enjoy having the opportunity to do a variety of cool procedures at bedside.

SGU: What is your advice for residents starting their first year?

Dr. Gevorgian: My best advice for incoming residents is simple: don’t forget your ABCs.

  • Accountability: If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
  • Betterment: Always try and learn something new every day and better yourself.
  • Compassion: In addition to being a compassionate provider, makes sure to always be compassionate to yourself because residency is tough with good and bad days.


“SGU has taught me that hard work always pays off and that nothing is impossible.”


SGU: Share a challenging emergency department moment and how you were able to treat your patient.

Dr. Gevorgian: Sometimes it’s hard to find the balance of providing the best possible care, but also respecting the patient’s wishes. One patient I had during my intern year of January 2021 (when COVID cases were rising again) was COVID-positive and in the emergency department for respiratory failure. I was in the process of getting him admitted to the ICU when he signed out against medical advice. I had multiple conversations with him explaining the risks involved. He was aware that his condition was life threatening, and his exact words were, “if I die I want to be home and be with my dogs.” But somehow my team and I managed to have home oxygen and appropriate medications delivered to his house prior to his discharge.

Being able to provide this patient that level of care, at the last minute, on a Friday night was a miracle—we were so thankful it was coordinated. I felt reassured that my team and I went above and beyond the call of duty for caring for our patient.

SGU: Recount a favorite memory from SGU.

Dr. Gevorgian: Exploring the North side of Grenada was always a blast. My friends and I would drive and explore different secluded beaches. There was something special about the North side, it was so quiet and calm. Once we stayed up all-night watching leatherback turtles come to shore and lay their eggs with endless shooting stars in the sky. It was an unforgettable night.

SGU: How did your experience at SGU help you get to where you are today?

Dr. Gevorgian: SGU has taught me that hard work always pays off and that nothing is impossible.


–Ronke Idowu Reeves and Sarah Stoss


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SGU Alum Returns to Grenada to Perform Lifesaving Heart Interventions

Interventional cardiologist Jason Finkelstein, MD ’99, has made it a priority to give back to the Grenadian community by frequently returning to the island to offer lifesaving cardiology services at no cost. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his visits were put on hold and his patients went unseen for more than two years. Dr. Finkelstein was finally able to return to Grenada June 20-23 to resume his pro-bono services.

During his visit—his 15th since 2008—Dr. Finkelstein was able to see and treat 103 patients at the Medical Specialties Clinic in Grand Anse. Many patients were seen for the first time, while others came for follow-up visits. With the assistance of Dylan Vulcannon, a pacemaker representative from St. Jude Medical Center, Dr. Finkelstein performed urgent on patients, as well as dozens of pacemaker interrogations (checks)—an essential consultation for all patients with devices. Additionally, pacemaker changes were conducted at the General Hospital.

Dr. Finkelstein said he was especially concerned for those patients who had implanted pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators, since their devices were not checked for such a long time.

“When I returned to Grenada this year, I found that there were a few patients whose pacemaker or defibrillator batteries had run out,” said Dr. Finkelstein, who practices in Decatur, TX. “Fortunately, I was able to change out two pacemaker generators at the General Hospital on two patients and sent another to Florida for a new device. These situations make me want to come back each year to help these patients in need. I was glad to be able to accomplish so much on this trip.”

Since its inception in 2000, the Visiting Cardiology Program, under the sponsorship of St. George’s University School of Medicine, continues to provide much needed heart care for adult Grenadians free of cost to them. These visits are arranged through the SGU-Physician Humanitarian Network (SGU-PHuN), a program that enables SGU alumni and friends to aid the Ministry of Health and Government of Grenada in improving healthcare in the country.


“When I returned to Grenada this year, I found that there were a few patients whose pacemaker or defibrillator batteries had run out. Fortunately, I was able to change out two pacemaker generators at the General Hospital on two patients and sent another to Florida for a new device.”


Johansen Sylvester, MD ’00, director of the Visiting Cardiology Program, said the two clinics combined were valued at US$75,000.

“During the last 15 years, the Visiting Cardiology Program has worked closely with our valued alumni in providing the highest level of care to many that would otherwise not have received such lifesaving interventions and follow up care,” Dr. Sylvester said. “The work done by Dr. Finkelstein is an invaluable part of continued SGU alumni altruism and a genuine sense of ‘giving back’ to a people and school that has played a critical role in their professional development.”

In addition to Dr. Finkelstein, other SOM alumni and friends who have also pledged their time and expertise to the SGU PHuN program for the fall 2022 term include:

  • Cardiologists – Christine Rodriguez, Rajesh Vakani, and Pravin Patil, MD ’04
  • OB/GYN – Philip Lahrmann, MD ’81
  • Pediatric ophthalmologist – Dr. Michael Gray
  • Wound care/emergency medicine specialists – Drs. Jay Helman and Robert Helman, MD ‘97
  • Grenadian-born endocrinologist – Dwight Matthias, MD ’93
  • Associate alumni and ophthalmologist – Dr. Fred Lambrou


“As an experienced contributor to the cardiology team, Dr. Finkelstein adds his value as an interventionalist by seeking out both resources such as pacemakers, as well as aligning his hospital and other colleagues to provide service to Grenadians in need—even bringing them to his site when he is unable to serve them in Grenada,” stated Dr. Brendon La Grenade, vice provost for institutional advancement. “He is more than a resource that we can rely on, he is a true friend to Grenada and a treasured alumnus. We appreciate all that he’s done for us over the past 15 years.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

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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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Grenadian SOM Grad Continues Family Legacy in Medicine


Grenadian nationals Natalie Harford, MD ’22, and her older brother Nicholas Harford, MD ’20, have always been inseparable when it came to attending school. So, it came as no surprise when Dr. Natalie Harford made the decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps and attend St. George’s University two years after he enrolled.

“The fact that my brother went to SGU played a big part in my decision at the time,” said Dr. Harford, who graduated this past June. “What can I say—my brother has always been a successful role model throughout my life, and I don’t regret my decision to apply to SGU one bit.”

Indeed, the family had much to celebrate as the younger Dr. Harford walked across the stage to be hooded by her sibling at SGU’s 41st commencement ceremony at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. Like her brother two years earlier, she and her fellow students from the Class of 2022 join a network of more than 19,000 alumni practicing in the United States and around the world.

“Hooding my sister was a great honor,” said Dr. Nicholas Harford, currently an internal medicine resident in Connecticut and the first doctor in their family.

“It was also extra special to be a part of the experience standing on stage since I wasn’t able to stand there at my own commencement ceremony in 2020 due to the pandemic. We owe that moment to our parents as they supported both of our dreams to become doctors. It would not have been possible without them.”

A Family Celebration

Having two children in medical school at the same time did provide a challenge for the Harford siblings’ parents—with both working full time jobs to make their children’s dream of becoming physicians possible. Their mother, Pratima Harford, also ran a successful international take-out food stall called Flavor House just outside of the True Blue campus. Over the years, she’s fed many SGU students and sometimes acted as a second mother while they were studying far from home.

Drs. Nicholas and Natalie Harford

“It was definitely a lot of sacrifice and a huge life challenge that we took on as a family,” shared Mrs. Harford. “The moment when our son hooded our daughter, we felt like we were witnessing our nine years of hard work come together in that one special moment. We couldn’t have been prouder of how happy and successful they both have become. It was truly a celebratory day for our entire family.”

A Doctor in the Making

Born in Guyana, and living in the Fiji Islands for five years, the Harford family eventually moved to Grenada.

Upon graduating from secondary school in Grenada, Dr. Natalie Harford had the option to attend T. A. Marryshow Community College or apply to SGU’s premedical program. Passionate about science—particularly anatomy—she carefully considered her options before joining her brother at SGU.

“I was drawn to SGU because it offered me a continuous seven-year pathway to earn my medical degree,” stated Dr. Harford. “And who wouldn’t want to enjoy being in the comfort of their home country to complete a degree, especially when it happens to be a paradise island like Grenada.”


“The best advice I can give anyone considering applying to medical school is to go after your passions and don’t be afraid to encounter challenges on the journey, it makes the reward that much sweeter.”


During her time at SGU, Dr. Harford was a member of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and the Indian Cultural Student Association (ICSA). She was also a teaching member of the Department of Educational Services (DES) and the Academic Enhancement Program (AEP).

“At SGU I grew both academically and personally,” said Dr. Harford. “In addition to pursing my medical degree, I had the pleasure of expanding my knowledge on the different cultural backgrounds of my peers and newly made friends. This was an invaluable experience, learning how to communicate and understand someone else’s belief system and how it impacts their lives—a skill I foresee utilizing to better the way I communicate in both my practice of medicine and in my everyday life.”

Dr. Harford will be entering the 2023 Match and hopes to secure a residency in pediatrics. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in her clinical rotation timeline causing delays which prevented her from applying to this year’s Match.

“From day one of my pediatrics core rotation, I fell in love with the energy, the people, and the patients,” she said. “Being a part of a pediatric team of healthcare professionals feels like my niche, and I cannot wait to join this amazing specialty.”

For now, Dr. Harford’s current plans include giving back to her alma mater as a teaching fellow, while brushing up on her Spanish and sign language skills, along with completing her USMLE Step 2 examinations and her ERAS application.

“The best advice I can give anyone considering applying to medical school is to go after your passions and don’t be afraid to encounter challenges on the journey, it makes the reward that much sweeter,” she said.

Drs. Nicholas Harford, Joanna Rayner, Natalie Harford & Mrs. Pratima Harford (from left to right)

– Ray-Donna Peters

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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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