AMSA SGU Donates EC$16,000 to Grenada Heart Foundation

On the heels of another successful Valentine’s Day Date Auction, the St. George’s University chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) leapt at the opportunity to support an important local cause. The group of physicians-in-training recently donated the proceeds of that auction—EC$16,000—to the Grenada Heart Foundation (GHF) as part of its longstanding partnership in providing lifesaving interventional cardiac care to those in need, especially children.

As the group’s biggest and most popular fundraising event of the year, the Valentine’s Day Date Auction featured attractive donations from local businesses, including spa treatments, two-night hotel stays, and dinner for two at a popular resort. These prizes were paired with students showcasing various talents, such as; fire-breathing and belly dancing, and auctioned off “dates” for potential bidders.

“We had an amazing turnout. Over 200 students came out to show their support for this worthy cause,” said Chanelle Dufreny, fifth-term medical student and vice president of finance for AMSA. “It’s one thing for us to learn about cardiovascular diseases in school but then to actually be able to donate and participate in providing opportunities for children to receive life-saving heart surgeries at no cost to their families—that’s something that everyone wants to be a part of.”

For over two decades, the Grenada Heart Foundation has aided in more than 300 children and young adults receiving crucial cardiovascular care through direct funding and partnerships abroad. The foundation is supported locally by the Government of Grenada to provide free healthcare services to children who suffer with congenital or acquired heart disease and by international donors, including Children’s Health Organization Relief and Educational Services (CHORES), and a network of generous hospitals at which the patients are treated.

Having been with the Foundation for more than 25 years, the last 20 of which have been as its president, Dr. Chamarthy Subbarao has seen first-hand the life-altering work that the Foundation has done and continues to do.

“We are extremely grateful to AMSA, as one of our biggest supporters,” stated Dr. Subbarao, who is also a professor of clinical skills at SGU. “To date, they have donated over EC$100,000 to the GHF which goes toward helping achieve our mission of providing lifesaving interventional cardiac surgeries to children and other underserved members of the community.”

Founded in 1950, the American Medical Student Association is the oldest and largest independent association in the US, of physicians-in-training. Today, AMSA is a student-governed, national organization committed to improving medical training and has more than 62,000 national and international members, comprising of medical students, premedical students, interns, residents, and practicing physicians.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Mini Medical School Inspires Future Grenadian Doctors

 

As part of its mission of diversifying the face of medicine, St. George’s University chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) hosted a mini medical school for students from Westmorland Secondary School (WSS) in hopes of sparking their interest in becoming Grenada’s future physicians.

SNMA members set up interactive medical stations that allowed the 22 high schoolers to receive hands-on lessons such as listening to a person’s heartbeat and lungs, identifying signs of anemia, and learning to take a patient’s pulse rate. WSS students also enjoyed the physical education station, where they participated in a relay race promoting physical fitness.

“Our students always enjoy learning outside of a classroom setting,” said Mr. Frankie Noel, chemistry teacher and lab technician at WSS. “Sharing in the mini med school experience and hearing directly from SGU medical students what it’s like becoming a doctor has definitely convinced many of our students to strive to become physicians at St. George’s.”

Along with a presentation on sickle cell disease and diabetes, two common conditions affecting many Grenadians, the visiting students learned about the different components of the blood, how to perform CPR, and how to conduct mini objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE). At the end of the day, the young visitors took part in a mini-graduation ceremony and were treated to taking photos while dressed in the white coats of the SNMA members.

“One of the primary purposes of SNMA is to serve the health needs of underserved communities and communities of color,” stated fifth-term medical student Michelle Adibe, who serves as president of SNMA. “Through our outreach and education programs like the mini med school program, we give students of our host country a chance to feel what it’s like to be a doctor for a day. We hope that by exposing them to medicine as an occupation we can show them that it is possible and that we’re rooting for them.”

SNMA chapters based at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the US are committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians. In addition, SNMA serves as a credible and accurate source of information relevant to minority issues in the field of medical education.

– Ray-Donna Peters

The Gold Standard of Care: AAHA Re-Accredits SGU’s Small Animal Clinic Through 2022

Satisfying approximately 900 standards of excellence set by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the Small Animal Clinic (SAC) at St. George’s University has been accredited by the AAHA through 2022, having earned the full three-year term for re-accreditation.

SAC Director Dr. Wayne Sylvester, DVM ’04, and his team were notified of the re-accreditation following the AAHA’s site visit in January, during which the clinic was evaluated on standards such as patient care, surgery, exam facilities, medical records, laboratory facilities, emergency services, dental care, diagnostic imaging, anesthesiology, pharmacy, and continuing education.

“This successful re-accrediitation site visit brought immense joy to our team,” Dr. Sylvester said. “We achieved this important accomplishment through the commitment and collaborative efforts of the team at the Small Animal Clinic, our consultants, the members of the Small Animal Clinic Board and Dr. Neil Olson, the SVM Dean, and his Office.”

AAHA accreditation confirms that the SAC compares favorably with some of the best facilities in North America. According to the AAHA, between 12 and 15 percent of all veterinary practices in the United States and Canada are accredited.

“AAHA re-accreditation is a significant milestone as it reflects the excellence in quality of care being provided at the Small Animal Clinic,” added Mellisa Walters, practice manager of the Small Animal Clinic. “Our team is elated.”

Led by Dr. Sylvester and Ms. Walters, the SAC operates seven days a week with 10 clinicians, 13 technicians, and five full-time staff members. The SAC initially received AAHA accreditation in October 2016, and immediately afterward, the SAC staff began to build on the services it already provided in preparation for the January 2019 site visit.

“All of the sections of our practice made significant improvements, we were able to use our previous experience as a foundation on which to build,” Dr. Sylvester said. “Accreditation ascertains the SAC as a leading veterinary facility. It’s a seal of approval that our standard of care is at high level. We will, however, continually seek to continually improve our standards.”

– Brett Mauser

Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall Receive Marine Biology Lesson in Grenada

Outdoor classrooms aren’t unusual for Dr. Clare Morrall (above), but in April, the St. George’s University professor of biology, ecology, and conservation shared her knowledge with a pair of special pupils—the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

During their royal tour of the Caribbean, Prince Charles and Camilla attended Grenada’s Blue Economy Exhibition, one of the more than 50 engagements on their 10-island trip. As the final event on their Grenada itinerary, the exhibition showcased the country’s role in piloting sustainable blue growth and innovative solutions for small island states.

His Royal Highness spent time at the Ocean Spirits display, Grenada’s longstanding turtle conservation organization, which presented a summary of its almost 20-year research results. The display also included a poster update on the sargassum situation in Grenada assembled by Dr. Morrall and research student Michelle Taylor.

“I had the opportunity to talk with Prince Charles about marine turtles in Grenada and also the issue of sargassum on Caribbean beaches,” said Dr. Morrall, president, Ocean Spirits Inc. “I showed him a metal flipper tag that Ocean Spirits uses with leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles and shared the story of a leatherback turtle that was satellite tagged in Canadian waters that recently returned to Grenada and nested on the east coast.”

Ocean Spirits Inc., is a nonprofit organization that relies entirely on volunteers, grants, and donations to successfully carry out its work. It uses its funding for research (currently the longest running sea turtle survey in Grenada), community outreach (training local staff in research and conservation), educational programs, summer camps, field trips, and school presentations.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Canadian Delegation Visits SGU to Discuss Doctors Returning Home

St. George’s University recently welcomed a delegation of Canadian senators along with Dr. Salvatore Spadafora, vice dean of post-MD education at the University of Toronto, to meet with Canadian students to discuss their views on training abroad and their intention to return home upon completion of their studies.

The Canadian guests spent four days visiting with top SGU administrators and faculty, touring the campus facilities as well as Grenada’s General Hospital and various health clinics, before attending a town hall meeting. With more than 100 Canadian students present, the senators spoke about the great need for doctors to return home after they’ve finished their training. They discussed different pathways for students to take and about the hurdles that young Canadians studying outside of their home country must clear.

“We thought the overall visit was extremely beneficial,” said Charles Furey, Canadian consultant, St. George’s University School of Medicine. “It provided a great education for politicians and other professionals in the medical community living in Canada to view SGU’s incredible infrastructure, faculty, curriculum, and most importantly, to meet our outstanding students who come from Canada.”

“It was really exciting to have such powerful people come to Grenada,” said Katlyn Elliott, president of the Canadian Students Association (CanSA) and a second-year medical student. “I believe this is the first time that we’ve had Canadian government officials actually come to SGU and see what we’re all about. With many provinces in Canada looking to international medical graduates to address their shortage of physicians, it was great to hear that we were the quality doctors they wanted to fill that gap.”

During the meeting, many of the senators took notes, and at the end of the visit expressed their willingness to help in any way possible to raise the profile of SGU and help remove some of the obstacles for Canadian students to return over the next few years.

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Hosts Record-Breaking Research Day

Faculty, students, and local and regional citizens recently descended on Louis and Marion Modica Hall for the 18th St. George’s University Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day, during which a record 145 presentations were showcased.

Of the presentations, 79 were posters and 66 were oral presentations. A faculty panel made up of judges from SGU and outside of the University reviewed the submissions, choosing three to four winners for each category based on originality, scientific merit, and level of involvement. Three winners were selected for Best Faculty and four for Best Student Oral Presentations, and three for Best Faculty and Best Student Poster Presentations each.

The complete list of winners can be seen below. The campus-based Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) will present each with a plaque on April 15.

“This year’s Research Day received the largest number of submissions of both poster and oral presentations in its 25-year history,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, director of research at St. George’s University. “This event saw the sharing of scholarly contributions from students, faculty and collaborators. Many thanks to all who presented, attended, or assisted with this year’s Research Day and made it such a memorable one.”

In addition to the faculty and students from all four schools at SGU, faculty from T.A. Marryshow Community College, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the University of the West Indies also presented at the conference. Co-authoring the work featured was an impressive list of collaborators from 14 countries and representing more than 50 institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Oxford, the University of Sydney, Temasek in Singapore, and Pretoria in South Africa.

St. George’s University Research Day began in 1994 as a means to disseminate outcomes of research being conducted by faculty and students at the University, which at the time comprised the Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies. With the expansion of the University’s programs and the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, the Alpha Delta Chapter of Phi Zeta Honor Society for veterinary medical students held its first Research Emphasis Day in February 2010 combining with the University-wide Research Day. The Society aims to foster the constant advancement of the veterinary profession, higher education, and scholarship, and to promote research in matters pertaining to the welfare and disease of animals. In keeping with the emphasis on One Health One Medicine, Phi Zeta conducts its Research Emphasis Day in collaboration with the other schools at the University. The next SGU Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day is scheduled for October 24, 2020.

Best Faculty Oral Presentation

  1. Dr. Bhumika Sharma – SVM
  2. Dr. Damian Greaves – SAS
  3. Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson – SOM

Best Student Oral Presentation

  1. Amber Lee – SVM
  2. Masha Phillip – SAS
  3. Matthew Carvey and Paul Feliu – SOM

Best Faculty Poster Presentation

  1. Dr. Naudia Dundas – SVM
  2. Gwen Burbank – SAS
  3. Rachael George-St. Bernard – SOM

Best Student Poster Presentation

  1. Lauren Kiebler – SVM
  2. Zoya Buckmire – SAS
  3. Jennifer Nguyen – SOM

Phi Zeta plaques/certificates were awarded to the following students for their participation: Yu Wang, Sarah Tabin, Chris Memonagle, Monica Tetnowski, Caitlin Moraland, Lindsey Hattaway, Andy Hsueh, Teresa Monroe, Dexton St. Bernard, Jaelene Haynes, Katelyn Thille, Nia Rametta, Shekinah Morris, Vishakha Vasuki, Devin Cruz-Gardillo, Haidi Janicke, and Alexandra Baker.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Alumni Association CME Welcomes Back Experts in Art of Medicine

St. George’s University School of Medicine students present research posters during an alumni association continuing ed conference.

Physicians are seen as experts in “the science” of medicine, but being an expert in “the art” of medicine is of equal importance. This art is the therapeutic and caring relationships that physicians build with their patients, which aids science in effecting a cure for illness and suffering. This spring’s School of Medicine Alumni Association (SOMAA) continuing medical education conference in Grenada examined medicine as a scientific study and its practice as an art. The four-day conference, titled “The Art of Medicine,” was held for the third time in association with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). It featured more than 50 prominent SOM alumni, including local faculty presenters discussing a wide variety of topics across the medical landscape.

“With the size and quality of the conference growing each year, so does its value increase to both our alumni and current SGU students,” said SOMAA President Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83. “In addition to the alumni acquiring CME credits, the students benefit from alumni who are some of the top specialists in their fields. They can ask us the important questions about their medical careers going forward, allowing us the opportunity to share our insight about the rigors of this profession.

“Overall, the conference provides a time to learn, to enjoy Grenada, and give back to the island,” added Dr. Bonanno.

Daniel Herr, MD ’81, an associate professor at St. George’s University and chief of critical care services at University of Maryland Medical Center, also returned to the island he once called home. As a recognized expert in the field of critical care, Dr. Herr is often invited to speak at medical conferences on topics concerning novel/new treatments and therapies for crucially ill patients.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for Grenada and SGU, for giving me the opportunity to become a doctor,” stated Dr. Herr. “I want to be involved and to come back to the island in order reconnect with the place that has given me so much. With more than 20,000 graduates across all schools, our goal is to get as many of us as possible to return and congregate to help present-day students.”

Additionally, the SOMAA provided plenty of opportunities for attendees to soak up some sand, sea, and fun while relaxing on island. The group enjoyed a sightseeing tour of Grenada’s natural beauty; lunch at Belmont Estate, a fully functional and historic plantation; a shopping tour of Grenada’s capital, St. George’s; a Catamaran VIP day cruise including snorkeling and a visit to the Underwater Sculpture Park and Hog Island; and a closing sunset dinner at Louis and Marion Modica Hall.

“The power of CME is that we bring physicians from all over the United States together to listen, learn, and reconnect with each other and St. George’s University—bringing them back to their roots,” said Robert Alig, the newly appointed vice president of alumni affairs, at St. George’s University. “SGU is the foundation for their careers as physicians, so bringing our alumni back to campus affords a unique opportunity for them to interact with current students; and I see the enthusiasm in the students as the alumni connect with them, giving everyone optimism for the continued success of the University.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

US Ambassador to Eastern Caribbean Visits Grenada to Discuss Community Outreach, Women’s Empowerment

Senior officials from the US State Department visit St. George’s University to speak with student leaders about community outreach and women’s empowerment. Discussions were led by US Ambassador Linda Taglialatela, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie Chung, Caribbean Affairs Director Katherine Dueholm, Deputy Political Economic Counselor Rachel Meyers, and Principal Officer Stephen Frahm.

Community outreach and women’s empowerment were at the forefront as St. George’s University’s student organization leaders welcomed senior officials from the United States to campus on March 8. Among the distinguished guests were Linda Taglialatela, US Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, and Julie Chung, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and other senior US State Department officials.

Representatives from groups such as the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, the Student American Veterinary Medical Association, and Women in Medicine shared their many contributions to the island, from the well-attended One Health One Medicine health fairs to a 5K road race that supports breast cancer awareness.

Since the visit coincided with International Women’s Day, students took the opportunity to seek advice on balancing gender inequality in the workplace, and in the State Department in particular. Both Ambassador Taglialatela and PDAS Chung shared some of their own experiences as women in the workplace dealing with gender inequality. Each encouraged students to be prepared for any situation or discussion, and when in a position of power, to assist other women in making the climb upward.

The visit ended with a tour of the True Blue campus and PDAS Chung expressing the hope that this visit would reaffirm the United States’ commitment to forging stronger bonds with Grenada and other Eastern Caribbean countries.

Hyperbaric Medicine Selective Students Come to the Rescue of Ill Grenadian Fisherman

Each May and December, immediately following final examinations, first- and second-year students at St. George’s University School of Medicine can participate in a pair of Grenada-based selectives in hyperbaric medicine. In addition to intense study of the theoretical underpinnings of hyperbaric therapeutics, students gain practical experience, with a focus on chronic wounds associated with diabetes.

Late in 2018, however, the participants faced an even more dramatic challenge.

During a routine training session for the hyperbaric students at St. Augustine’s Medical Services (SAMS), a Grenadian fisherman showed hemiparalysis and urinary retention. Confronted with decompression sickness-related dysfunction of the brain and spinal cord, the students confidently and professionally rose to the occasion. Over approximately seven hours of supervised effort, they successfully deployed their fresh knowledge and skills, sparing their patient from a lifetime of profound disability.

When completed in succession, the selectives constitute a course that is approved by the American College of Hyperbaric Medicine (ACHM) for progression toward the professional credential of Certified Hyperbaric Technician (CHT).

“The students did a fantastic job. Enabling achievement is part of what the course was designed to do. So, to see this objective met is extremely gratifying,” said Dr. Duncan Kirkby, the course’s director and professor of neuroscience at SGU. “The students expressed genuine concern for the well-being of the patient. They were respectful, professional and highly motivated to achieve the best possible outcome.”

Dr. Kirkby worked with Lutz “Joe” Amechi, MD ’93, the medical director at SAMS, to bring hyperbaric medicine to Grenada in 2017. Previously, the nearest chamber to treat diving-related injuries resided in Barbados. The installation of the chamber at SAMS facilitated the development of the selectives, which supplement the preclinical education that medical students receive at SGU.

“There are two major expectations of participants in the selectives,” Dr. Kirkby said. “First, they rapidly develop a fledgling body of team-based practical experience that is steeped in the care of Grenadians. Second, because hyperbaric technologies are applicable to a broad and growing array of clinical conditions and disciplines, participants are expected to gain an experiential advantage in the pursuit of residencies.”

Dr. Tyler Sexton, who studied under Dr. Kirkby, supplied Grenada’s hyperbaric chamber and is the primary instructor for the selectives. He is also a visiting professor at SGU and the CEO and medical director of Caribbean Hyperbaric Medicine.

“There are over a dozen varied indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Applicable disciplines include but are not limited to emergency medicine, reconstructive surgery, internal medicine, aerospace medicine, and trauma surgery,” Dr. Sexton said. “It has been my honor to join Drs. Amechi and Kirkby in bringing hyperbaric care to Grenada and promoting the professional, scholarly and personal development of the students of SGU.”

Dr. Lutz “Joe” Amechi, MD ’93, resident physician and managing director of St. Augustine’s Medical Services (SAMS), introduced the nation’s first hyperbaric chamber and a 64 slice CT machine in 2017. St. George’s University is partnering with SAMS to provide medical students with a clinical selective in hyperbaric medicine.

Newly Appointed Youth Assembly Ambassador is Looking at the Big Picture

Rebakaone Bowe (far left) will participate in the 23rd Youth Assembly conference in February in New York City, serving as one of 20 ambassadors for Assembly delegates.

Delegates of the Youth Assembly convene twice each year and are challenged to energize young people to tackle global and national challenges head on. Some of the leading voices in these efforts are 20 Youth Assembly Ambassadors from around the world who have demonstrated leadership in their school or community as well as a commitment to youth empowerment and sustainable development goals.

Ms. Rebakaone Bowe, a year three medical student at St. George’s University, was selected from a vast applicant pool to serve as an Ambassador for the Assembly’s “Empowering Youth for Global Development” conference on the campus of New York University in February. She and her cohorts hope to address issues that arise as a byproduct of age discrimination, underrepresentation, lack of resources, or unemployment.

At February’s Assembly, Ms. Bowe will focus her attention on global health, quality education, and partnerships to work toward these goals.

“The 23rd session will be my first time bringing a delegation to the Youth Assembly. I have been working to increase the participation of youth from different countries and currently have nominees from countries such as Botswana, Brazil, South Africa, Antigua and Barbuda, and the US,” Ms. Bowe said. “I look forward to sharing this experience with my delegation and empowering them to become global leaders. This time, attending the Youth Assembly will not only benefit me and my delegates but every individual in our respective communities who is yearning to see a positive change as we strive for sustainable development.”

“As medical students and future physicians, it’s important that we’re all well equipped with the knowledge we need in the world we live in,” she added. “With medicine, we can focus on one thing, but the world’s always changing, and platforms such as the Youth Assembly allow us to see the bigger picture.”

“This time, attending the Youth Assembly will not only benefit me and my delegates but every individual in our respective communities who is yearning to see a positive change as we strive for sustainable development.”

Rebakaone Bowe, Year 3 MD Student

Lending a Helping Hand

Ms. Bowe was thrilled and honored to have been selected as an Ambassador, in part because the environment in which she grew up—Botswana, where she said that humanitarianism is instilled in its citizens from a young age.

“Within our family, our church, and our community, we learned that we have to be humble—to always share what you have and to give a lending hand wherever you can,” she said.

She was involved in community service projects in high school, and took it a step further by working with representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an organization dedicated to aiding those who have sought asylum and safety outside of their home country, providing such assistance as clean water, sanitation, and health care. Ms. Bowe spearheaded a project in which volunteers interacted with youth in a refugee camp in Dukwi, Botswana.

“They felt very isolated,” she said. “Growing up, I didn’t even know that we had refugees in our country. To see it firsthand gave me a new perspective and has pushed me to dig more into humanitarianism.”

That included beginning a path toward a career in medicine. Ms. Bowe learned about St. George’s University from her cousin, Thandi Milton, MD SGU ’13, who is now practicing in Botswana after a positive experience in her four years at SGU. With outstanding grades and A-level marks, Ms. Bowe was offered and accepted a scholarship from the Government of Botswana to attend St. George’s University as a third-year premed student in 2015.

Opportunities at Her Fingertips

In addition to her studies at SGU, Ms. Bowe has strived to learn more about the world around her. During her basic science years, she was heavily involved in the University’s International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA) chapter, which allowed her to travel to such countries as Montenegro, Mexico, Paraguay for IFMSA General and Regional Assemblies. She also did a one-month internal medicine professional exchange in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at Hospital Universitario Gaffree e Guinle under IFMSA’s Professional Exchange Chapter.

“I really appreciated the opportunity because we’d have all these students pursuing a medical degree, yet we were all contributing to the whole dialogue of how we can achieve better health for everyone, whether it’s antimicrobial resistance, vaccines, or sexual reproduction,” she said. “Primary health care is a very big initiative, and I think we can help take care of patient populations by integrating medics with communities and tackling problems from the get-go rather than letting these problems progress to advanced stages.”

Ms. Bowe has divided her clinical training time between SGU’s network hospitals in the United Kingdom and United States. She is on schedule to graduate from SGU in 2020, at which point she hopes to match into an internal medicine residency, with an eye on specializing in interventional cardiology.

“Being an SGU student has really exposed me the different healthcare systems in Grenada, the UK, the US, and Brazil. Adding my home country Botswana to the list, I think I have developed a deeper appreciation of cultural competency and medicine.”

“Coming to Grenada has really opened doors for me,” she added. “It has boosted me in the right direction. Without SGU, I wouldn’t be standing where I am.”

– Brett Mauser

Rebakaone Bowe (far left) with her IFMSA colleagues at the annual conference in Montenegro.