SGU Supply Donation Greatly Enhances COVID-19 Relief Efforts 

St. George’s University, its alumni, and the Government of Grenada have banded together to expedite the delivery of critical healthcare supplies to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

A collaborative effort between SGU and its network has secured physician support and medical and pharmaceutical supplies to assist physicians, nurses, and other healthcare personnel working on the ground. Among these supplies were 100 oxygen cylinders, which are already in use, providing relief to recovering COVID-19 patients.

“With all my heart, I thank those who have helped bring these supplies to the country and to the people,” said Dr. Charles Modica, chancellor of SGU. “Grenada is our home, and we must do everything we can to keep everyone safe and healthy. I am so proud of the role our faculty, staff, students, and alumni have played in providing COVID-19 care in Grenada, whether it’s administering state-of-the-art testing, helping patients toward recovery, or advocating for the safety and benefits of the vaccine.”

SGU continues to strengthen the COVID-19 response effort by providing procurement and facilitating the shipment of large quantities of supplies, and delivering education and physician support through its alumni physician and friends network. More supplies and support, including increased liquid oxygen capacity, cylinders, oxygen concentrators, personal protection equipment, and physician and nursing support, will be arriving in the coming days and weeks.

“Through our close collaboration with the alumni-led Grenada COVID Crisis Group (GCCG), the Ministry of Health, and our graduates, we have been able to carefully assess needs on the ground and facilitate effective implementation,” said Brendon La Grenade, vice provost at SGU. 

 

“Grenada is our home, and we must do everything we can to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

 

As COVID cases increased in Grenada, straining its healthcare system, support from the SGU community came from both on the island and from afar. School of Arts and Sciences nursing students were among the first to help in the administration of testing and vaccines throughout the six parishes. School of Medicine students have volunteered at mobile testing and vaccination clinics organized by Grenada’s Ministry of Health, providing results and educational material, monitoring vaccine recipients for any adverse reactions, and upholding social distancing mandates for those waiting for the vaccine.  

“We are grateful for SGU’s continued generous commitment to support healthcare services in our nation,” added Dr. Carol McIntosh, director of hospital services at the Ministry of Health. “We are proud to work in partnership with SGU as we manage the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and strive to improve our health services in general.”  

In addition, alumni have rallied to support Grenada through offering in-person and telemedicine care, and financial contributions totaling more than $100,000 through the GCCG GoFundMe page. 

“What’s most important to acknowledge is that we are in this together,” Dr. Modica said. “St. George’s University and the Government of Grenada are working toward a solution, and we’ll come to that solution together, just as we always have.” 

 

– Brett Mauser 

 

 

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SGU Nursing Students Lead Volunteer Efforts in the Community

Photo courtesy of SGU Nursing Student Association

Historically, nurses have always volunteered to serve during times of crisis—often traveling to wherever they were needed the most. Much in the same way, many students in the St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences Nursing Program are also answering the call to serve—volunteering to travel to rural villages to work at mobile testing and vaccination clinics islandwide.

Working closely with Grenada’s Ministry of Health, the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences within SAS, and in collaboration with the Student Government Association, has become the official liaison to the MOH—playing an integral role in the organization, planning, and gathering of SGU student volunteers to work at various pop-up clinics.

“I made the decision to volunteer for two reasons—my strong desire to help provide much-needed assistance to my future colleagues, and my love for this noble profession,” stated Shawndy Duncan, a third-year nursing student at SGU. “During my experience in the field, we did encounter many that were skeptical about taking the vaccine. However, we took the time to explain the benefits and why it was so important to get vaccinated now more than ever. I believe that what we’re doing here will have a positive impact on the Grenadian public.”

 

“Nursing student volunteers have the unique opportunity to practice both their science and art (by) engaging in hands-on learning in the field.”

 

For the past several weeks, nearly half of the department’s 110 students has volunteered during the government’s current restriction of movements on the weekends. At the MOH’s request, SGU nursing students have been serving at healthcare clinics, mobile vaccination sites, and homes for the elderly.

“As an aspiring nurse, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer my services,” said second-year nursing student Casira Peters. “I was happy to go wherever I was needed. I wanted to help in any way I could to ensure that Grenadians got the proper support they required. Volunteering allows me to not only work alongside dedicated healthcare professionals, but it also enables me to develop my communication and practical skills. And even though I’m not a licensed nurse yet, I’m getting valuable experience to make me an even better one.”

SGU nursing students volunteer at one of the Ministry of Health’s mobile vaccination clinics in Grenada.

In addition to assisting physicians with administering COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, and providing results and educational material, the student volunteers have also been functioning as clinic nurses, applying wound dressings, and performing blood sugar checks—working more days and longer hours, often side by side with members of their own communities.

“Nursing student volunteers have the unique opportunity to practice both their science and art,” said Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair and director of the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, SGU. “Engaging in hands-on learning in the field, may arguably make them even better nurses. Additionally, volunteering brings benefits not only to the people being helped, but also to the volunteers themselves, such as improving self-esteem, increasing confidence, and providing a sense of purpose. It fills me with pride as the Grenadian people get to see how the SGU nursing program is community and locally centered. I am humbled by our students as they continue to selflessly volunteer in their home communities.”

Nursing students and Dr. Jen Solomon, chair and director of the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, SGU, pose for a picture. Photo courtesy of SGU Nursing Student Association

St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences Nursing Program features many aspects of interdisciplinary learning and teaching. Uniquely structured, it allows the students to be taught by professors from both the Schools of Medicine and Arts and Sciences, as well as visiting professors from outside of Grenada. Their training experience will include working at the General Hospital, lab work at SGU’s Simulation Center, and community work. At the end of their training and with the completion of their regional and international licensing exams, the students will become fully fledged registered nurses as approved by the Caribbean Nursing Council.

 

— Ray-Donna Peters

 

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New SVM Associate Dean Inspires Future Veterinary Researchers

Having grown up in and around New York City, Ray Kaplan was more familiar with city and suburban life than the world he one day found in farm country. In high school, he sought more wide open spaces by spending summers working on dairy farms, a setting in which he felt right at home.

“The farm atmosphere was new to me, but I loved the physical and outdoor nature of the work,” said Dr. Kaplan, a new associate dean of graduate studies at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine. “I also developed an appreciation of dairy cows and found them to be lovely animals to work with.”

He added to his experience by studying dairy science as an undergrad at Virginia Tech, diving deep into parasitology research at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and following that up with a PhD in veterinary parasitology from the University of Florida.

Throughout his career as a clinician, Dr. Kaplan emphasized research, including the US Army Veterinary Corps, where he worked at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in a malaria drug discovery program. Several years later, he took an assistant professor position at the University of Georgia Veterinary School, where he would spend the next 23 years developing an internationally recognized parasitology research program.

Excited to now start a new chapter at SGU, Dr. Kaplan shares how he plans to use his knowledge and expertise in research to help improve the SGU School of Veterinary Medicine program, mentor students, and help faculty succeed in their research endeavors.

St. George’s University: What led you to join SGU, and what are you looking forward to the most as an official faculty member?

Dr. Ray Kaplan: I am thrilled to be a part of the SGU family. Although I just started as professor of parasitology and associate dean for graduate studies for SVM in August, I have been coming to SGU as a visiting professor for the past 20 years, so I knew that I loved Grenada, and the community spirit of SGU. I also joined because I had reached a point in my career where I wanted to do something a little different. Though I did a considerable amount of teaching in my earlier years at UGA, over time my position evolved into being predominantly research focused, and I found that I missed the interaction with veterinary students.

At SGU, I am looking forward to returning to doing more teaching and engaging with students, including establishing a vet student parasitology club, as well as conducting some new areas of research, such as parasites of aquatic animals. And in my role as associate dean of graduate studies, I look forward to building and improving the SVM graduate program.

 

“I firmly believe that learning the scientific process by participating in research builds critical thinking skills, which are essential to practicing evidence-based medicine, and can be applied in so many aspects of life.”

 

SGU: What do you consider to be some of the benefits to students participating in research?

RK: The field of veterinary medicine is dynamic and ever changing, and the amount of information is increasing too fast for anyone to keep up with everything. However, experience in research gives students a better foundation to critically evaluate what they read and hear, and thus provides a step up in maintaining the highest standards of practice. I firmly believe that learning the scientific process by participating in research builds critical thinking skills, which are essential to practicing evidence-based medicine, and can be applied in so many aspects of life.

SGU: Why is research so important, especially now with COVID-19?

RK: Understanding research and science in general is essential to controlling COVID-19, as well as many other of society’s current concerns. Veterinary researchers play a large and critical role in the animal-based research that provides benefits to both animal and human health. These researchers and healthcare professionals played an important role in responding to this pandemic, and they will continue to play an important role in helping to prevent the next one. Hence, the world needs more veterinary researchers.

SGU: What future research topics and projects would you like to see covered at SGU?

RK: As a large university in the Caribbean, SGU is uniquely positioned to address research on topics relevant to this region, such as aquatic animal medicine and conservation, and sustainable control of parasites in tropical environments. For instance, SGU is the perfect place for developing a major center for aquatic animal health, and the achievements of such an institute could provide valuable international recognition for the school.

SGU: How would you describe the student journey and what will help make students successful here at SGU?

RK: Students of veterinary medicine are a fairly unique group in their level of passion and dedication to their pursuit. This intense pursuit to become veterinarians involves a lot of emotional and economic investment. Veterinary students tend to be high-achieving idealists who have chosen the profession because they want to help animals.

Over the years of coming to SGU as a visiting professor, I have been impressed with the academic skills and enthusiasm of SGU students. I think building on those core strengths through increasing opportunities for pre-professional groups and professor-student interactions will aid in their success. I also believe that the geographic location of Grenada and being away from their homes creates a stronger student community, which creates an environment where students help other students be successful.

— Ray-Donna Peters

 

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SOM students mobilize to assist with COVID crisis in Grenada

Over the past several weeks, SGU students heeded the call to help those in need by volunteering at mobile testing and vaccination clinics organized by Grenada’s Ministry of Health (MOH) across the island. Photo courtesy of Ministry of Health.

The increase in COVID-19 cases in Grenada has mobilized St. George’s University School of Medicine students to use their passion for medicine and acquired skills toward helping their beloved host country and its communities. Over the past several weeks, many aspiring physicians heeded the call to help those in need by volunteering at mobile testing and vaccination clinics organized by Grenada’s Ministry of Health (MOH) across the island.

“I could not have leaped up fast enough at the opportunity to assist in combatting COVID-19 in Grenada, not only to act in my capacity as an epidemiologist and medical student, but to give back to the community that gives me and the broader SGU community so much and allows us to call their home, our home,” said Term 4 SOM student Cameron Rattray, MPH. “We are one people, one community, and we all must band together in these turbulent times to fight COVID-19 and win this war.”

Under the direction of Dr. Carol McIntosh, the Ministry of Health’s director of hospital services, students traveled in teams across the island to serve in the MOH’s pop-up clinics. Students ranged from Term 1 through Term 5, with School of Medicine faculty advisors also onsite to oversee them.

 

 

“We are so proud of these students who selflessly gave their time to give back to the Grenadian community,” said Dr. Marios Loukas, dean of the School of Medicine. “Offering to assist Grenada’s healthcare workers during this time of need is the sign of a true calling as a physician. These experiences will become invaluable as they continue their training.”

Among the student volunteer responsibilities—vaccination and COVID-19 testing registration and site setup, assisting the physicians administer tests and vaccinations, providing results and educational material, monitoring patients who received the vaccine for any adverse reactions to the injection, and helping clinic attendees maintain social distancing while waiting for the vaccine.

 

“Offering to assist Grenada’s healthcare workers during this time of need is the sign of a true calling as a physician.”

 

Members of SGU’s Emergency Medicine Club (EMC) were among the student volunteers eager to help. According to EMC President Arya Hawkins-Zafarnia, the lessons learned by students were innumerable and invaluable, falling into two camps: disaster response/emergency preparedness/management and compassionate community engagement.

While everyone’s roles varied, volunteers learned the importance remaining flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of each community’s situation, maintaining direct lines of communication to the physicians onsite, and working as a cohesive unit with a common purpose. They also learned the importance of extending compassion and respect to the Grenadians in need, Mr. Hawkins-Zafarina noted.

“Many students were exposed firsthand to communities that harbor mixed levels of skepticism in the available vaccines,” he said. “During our Friday evening briefing, Dr. McIntosh shared with the group of volunteers some wise words, and I think they were apparent in their relevance all weekend long: ‘Compassion cannot be taught, but it can be learned.’”

That said, “the Grenadians we encountered were incredibly kind and grateful,” Mr. Hawkins-Zafarnia added. “We encountered many that were vaccine-hesitant for both themselves and their families, and we tried our best to inform them of the benefits of getting vaccinated, if eligible. Health literacy is a challenge around the world, but there can be success when you approach people at their level and explain concepts in a culturally sensitive manner.”

Photo courtesy of Ministry of Health.

As attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 continues, SGU remains a trusted ally to the Government of Grenada. SGU faculty members have stepped up to volunteer their skills and expertise at the mobile vaccination sites. In addition, students in the School of Arts and Sciences nursing program have been volunteering at health centers across the country, providing Grenada’s healthcare professionals with much-needed assistance, a chance for a break, and camaraderie.

Crucial in the organization and planning of SGU student volunteer activities was the Student Government Association in collaboration with the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences within the SAS, which has become the official liaison between the MOH to coordinate gathering student volunteers for the clinics.

This past weekend, more than 100 students—both School of Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences—volunteered in the communities, with many more asking how they could help. As the Ministry of Health organizes more vaccination events throughout the island, there will be additional opportunities for students to volunteer, according to Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair and director of Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences.

“Altruism is in the DNA of any healthcare worker,” Dr. Solomon said. “It’s wonderful to see students across schools working together to learn about each other’s roles. These are the doctors and nurses of tomorrow.”

 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

 

 

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In the Community: SGU Faculty and Students Providing Crucial COVID Testing and Vaccinations in Grenada

As attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 continues, St. George’s University remains a trusted ally to the Government of Grenada, with several SGU faculty members and students stepping up to volunteer in the Government’s most recent initiative—hosting mobile testing and vaccination clinics throughout the island.

The team of SGU faculty volunteers was comprised of Drs. Nilo Alvarez Toledo, Sharmila Upadhya, Vivek Nuguri, Vajinder Singh, Kesava Mandalaneni, Karl Theodore, Subramanya Upadhya, Anthusia Hortance Pavion, Sheiban Shakeri, Edidiong Udoyen, Clayton Taylor, and Allister Rechea. They worked in close conjunction with the Ministry of Health’s team, including Drs. Carol McIntosh, Tyhiesia Donald, Nicole Forte, Nurse Audrey Lyons, and others, to reach out to the population in the countryside parishes of St. David, St. Patrick, St. Mark, St. John, and St. Andrew.

“As a physician, I know firsthand the importance of getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Vajinder Singh, deputy chair in the Department of Pathology at SGU. “With Grenada’s limited healthcare infrastructure and resources, I felt it was my duty to volunteer for the vaccination drive in the hopes that one day soon we can achieve ‘herd immunity.’ Our overall goal here is to reach the most remote parts of Grenada to spread awareness of the importance of getting vaccinated, and to test and vaccinate as many people as we can.”

“We are so proud of these initiatives and all of those who have been in the field to support our beloved host country with all-important testing and vaccinations,” said Dr. Charles Modica, chancellor of SGU. “The country and the citizens of Grenada have supported the University throughout our journey, every step of the way, and we’re glad to have people within our community who can lend a helping hand at this critical time.”

These mobile clinics are considered extremely beneficial in reaching the elderly and the most vulnerable on island, who by themselves would not have been able to go to the hospital or health centers to get vaccinated. The volunteers were able to administer hundreds of vaccines, provide education on the need to get vaccinated, and conduct testing for COVID-19.

 

“The country and the citizens of Grenada have supported the University throughout our journey, every step of the way, and we’re glad to have people within our community who can lend a helping hand at this critical time.”

 

“The need of the hour is to vaccinate as many people as possible against COVID-19,” stated Dr. Kesava Mandalaneni, assistant professor of neuroscience in the SOM. “As a proud Grenadian (at heart), and more importantly as a physician, I feel obligated to stand with my brothers and sisters in the healthcare fraternity, who are working tirelessly to contain the effects of COVID-19 in our communities.”

SGU Nursing Students Heed the Call to Volunteer

Also, eager to lend a helping hand were School of Arts and Sciences students in the SGU Nursing Program. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the future nurses have been volunteering at health centers across the country, providing Grenada’s healthcare professionals with much-needed assistance, a chance for a break, and camaraderie. As Grenada enters its second week of a two-week restriction of movements on weekends, the nursing students have also volunteered to work at pop-up testing and vaccination clinics in rural villages island wide.

“I choose to volunteer because I heard the call for help and I decided to answer it,” said Kayonna Jones, a second-year nursing student at SGU. “I also believe that volunteering will not only benefit me as a student in gaining hands-on experience working alongside other healthcare professionals in a pandemic, but also my hard work and commitment to educating, testing, and vaccinating will also help to ensure a safe environment for the Grenadian community.”

“The concepts of altruism and selflessness are synonymous with nursing,” said Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair and director of the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, SGU. “Many of our students have volunteered, working above and beyond to assist their colleagues, and local communities during the COVID 19 pandemic. Although students, they have the skills that are needed and, under supervision, can meaningfully contribute—giving support to their future colleagues on the front line. At SGU, we have a commitment to provide excellence in education, which in turn translates to excellence in care. I am so humbled and proud of our SGU nursing students.”

SGU and Grenada Partnership

As many countries, including Grenada grapple with the ramifications of the persistent coronavirus pandemic, St. George’s University has reaffirmed its commitment to its host country. From partnering with the Government of Grenada on managing donations to help combat COVID-19, to providing expert advice from its alumni on Grenada broadcast networks, SGU continues to be a loyal partner in helping to limit the spread of the virus.

In close collaboration with the Government, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), a research and education foundation based at SGU, one of the first diagnostic testing facilities in the Caribbean and was established at the True Blue campus. SGU’s testing site has since become a beacon of excellence for the entire region, with its diagnostic team helping to design and set up the Ministry of Health’s testing site at Grenada General Hospital, including training of lab staff and troubleshooting with initial qPCR lab testing.

Additionally, responding to the need of the General Hospital, which had just two ventilators, designed to mechanically assist patients with breathing, for the entire population of more than 100,000 people—St. George’s University utilized its international resources to facilitate the acquisition and delivery of 18 additional ventilators.

SGU also secured tens of thousands of pieces of personal protection equipment, ranging from gloves and gowns to goggles and facemasks, for medical personnel as well as members of the community. In addition, the University was able to bring in 18 combination defibrillator monitors, two handheld ultrasound machines, two portable X-ray machines, as well as blood gas analyzers and supplies.

“The people of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique are extremely resilient,” added Dr. Mandalaneni. “They have overcome many challenges in the past and will do so once again. With the help from our SGU community, we will all do our part to overcome this challenge together, so that we advance and prosper as one people and one community.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

 

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New Student Government President Thriving After Career Change

Born in Queens, NY, to Taiwanese parents, Term 5 SOM student Stephanie Chen’s journey into medicine was not at all a predictable one. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics from New York University, Ms. Chen pursued several jobs in the financial industry—switching back and forth between for-profit and the non-profit sector.

Yet it soon became clear to her that being an economist wasn’t the right fit. She decided instead to wave goodbye to the East Coast and went off to pursue her graduate degree in physiology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH. It was in this high-energy, healthcare-driven community she found her passion for medicine, prompting her to enter St. George’s University to further explore the intricacies of how socioeconomic factors intertwined with the clinical practice of medicine.

Since joining SGU, Ms. Chen has held several positions on the Student Government Association executive board. Now as she begins her tenure as president, she shared why she chose medicine and what she hopes to accomplish in her new role with the SGA.

St. George’s University: What made you switch your career from economist to doctor?

Stephanie Chen: I quickly realized after quitting my third job in finance that my real passion involved helping people in our healthcare system. While in Cleveland, being at one of the largest healthcare hubs in the nation allowed me to see firsthand the physical, emotional, and social repercussions of the systemic challenges our healthcare industry inflicts on patients. It instilled in me the desire to make a change for those who cannot speak up.

Now, as I pursue my medical degree at SGU, I hope I can continue to think about how the clinical presentation relates to the actual person sitting in front of me, their families, and their background. My prior experience in economics has given me a broader perspective on the effect of the physician in the provision of healthcare and allowed me to appreciate the physician’s role. Every day I am learning more about the importance of advocating for my patients not just inside the doctor’s office.

 

“I aspire to not only be a physician who uses medical knowledge to treat the ailments of my patients but also a leader who advocates for her patients beyond the doctor’s office.”

 

SGU: How does it feel to be elected as SGA president for the August 2021 term? 

SC: It is an incredible honor to get the chance to serve as the president of our SGU student body and to be in a leadership role where I can spark change and make a lasting difference. I couldn’t be prouder of the vision SGA holds, and I am continually inspired by all the brilliant minds I’ve met within the organization.

Being a part of the SGA has taught me that my love for humanity and advocacy can drive me even further. I aspire to not only be a physician who uses medical knowledge to treat the ailments of my patients but also a leader who advocates for her patients beyond the doctor’s office.

SGU: What prompted you to pursue this position, and what influence do you hope to have? 

SC: When I first came to SGU, I knew I wanted to join an organization focused on serving others and paying it forward to the community. I saw SGA as the place I would be able to make a true impact and advocate for the entire student body. Growing up, I never saw Asian-Americans adequately represented in student councils or positions of leadership at this level. My hope is that I can influence other women of Asian descent to also strive to hold positions of power.

SGU: How did your prior SGA experience prepare you for this role?  

SC: Since I first started my medical journey at SGU, I have been a member of the SGA. Following my first term, I was elected to the executive board and have served in all subsequent terms in roles such as, vice president of financial affairs, vice president of communications, president of SOM affairs, and now president of SGA.

Having exposure to a variety of roles throughout the SGA has strengthened my ability to effectively advocate for student concerns to the University administration. Over the years, I have learned so much through collaborating with my peers. Through the partnerships on many projects, I have come to foster very strong relationships with department heads, school deans, and the SGU administration.

SGU: What are some of your top priorities?

SC: As part of this year’s priorities, I aim to advocate for more effective communication, a stronger school community, and greater diversity and inclusion for the entire student body. Our plan is to utilize well-established resources to help make these priorities a reality.

Throughout the term, our executive board will be holding weekly office hours via Zoom, continuing the SGA Virtual Study Hall to promote community, and re-opening the SGA Study Buddies Locator to allow for better engagement amongst our students. We will also be holding various virtual events to promote student wellness and mental health such as the SGU Student Organization Fair and SGU Mental Health Day.

SGU: How do you plan to incorporate the concerns and issues of students from all schools? 

SC: As SGA president, I check in with my executive board daily to ensure all concerns are being addressed in an effective manner. SGA also holds biweekly meetings—open to the general student body—every Monday at 7pm AST from September to November to allow for all student concerns to be raised to the executive board. As we enter this new term, I will continue to work with my team to use these established lines of communication to advocate for student concerns from all four schools at SGU.

SGU: What are the qualities of a successful leader?

SC: Being an effective communicator, having good judgment, and knowing how to delegate are essential traits for a successful leader. Besides these core attributes, I believe timing is also paramount. Knowing not only how to step in but when to step in has been crucial in unlocking some of the greatest opportunities in my life.

SGU: What are your career goals?

SC: Next spring, I will be entering into my clinical year and expect to graduate with my MD in 2024. Beyond medical school, I plan to take on the daunting task of addressing our broken healthcare system and advocating for a systems-level change in healthcare delivery to provide high quality and equitable healthcare for all.

– Ray-Donna Peters

From NJIT to SGU: Efstathia Baronos

Efstathia Baronos

By establishing academic pathway programs with top undergraduate institutions around the world. St. George’s University is helping aspiring physicians achieve their dream of practicing medicine—often in less time than the traditional pathway to an MD. Efstathia Baronos of Rochester, NY, took advantage of SGU’s unique BSc/MD program in collaboration with New Jersey Institute of Technology, earning her Bachelor of Science in biology at NJIT before joining SGU’s four-year MD program. She shared what the experience has been like, and what her goals are for the future.

St. George’s University: Why did you choose the NJIT/SGU pathway program?

Efstathia Baronos: I first heard about accelerated programs from a family friend who graduated from SGU. My mom and I looked to see if SGU had any affiliations in the Northeast since I knew that’s the region I was looking in to for colleges. After learning about SGU from my family friend and from my cousin, who is also an alumnus, I had a strong interest in attending SGU for medical school. From there, we found the program between NJIT and SGU, and I am very grateful that I was accepted into the program.

SGU: How would you describe your SGU experience thus far?

EB: The best way to describe my experience so far is that it’s been equally rigorous as it has been rewarding, especially since we have been studying during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been pushed further than I ever thought possible and am becoming the best version of myself not only as a future physician but also as a person. While there have been challenges, I have been able to make comebacks and continue being academically successful with the help of my family, friends, classmates, and faculty. I am excited to return to Grenada and continue to learn and to push myself to become the best physician I can be.

SGU: What helped you stay motivated and in the program while pursuing your undergraduate degree?

EB: The fact that I had been accepted to SGU when starting my undergraduate career helped me see the bigger picture in my career. This helped me stay motivated during my time at NJIT. I knew that I was learning skills that I needed to become the best medical student I could be, and eventually the best physician I could be. I knew that my undergraduate degree was a step in becoming a physician and would help me be able to help others one day.

SGU: How well have you bonded with your classmates?

EB: My classmates and friends at SGU are some of the brightest and hardest-working people I have ever met. I am so grateful for the people I have met so far. They encourage me and give me so much support, especially since we are in a unique learning experience studying online. They show me new perspectives and we are all there to help one another succeed. I see my friends and classmates not only as future colleagues but also as friends for the rest of my life.

SGU: What was the application process like?

EB: The application process was stress-free. My admissions counselor, Bryan Maccarrone, was very easy to talk to and very approachable throughout the whole process and helped me with any questions I had. I was always very impressed with how quickly and easy it was to get in touch with him. I would have a response from him within minutes.

SGU: What are your career goals?

EB: I am currently keeping an open mind to all specialties. As of now, I am very interested in endocrinology. The endocrine system has been my favorite to learn during basic sciences so far. After recently being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder, I have a strong interest in pursuing this specialty in the hopes of working at or running my own PCOS clinic.

SGU: Would you recommend this path for aspiring physicians at NJIT, and why?

EB: I would recommend this program to other students at NJIT who are pursuing medicine as a career. I knew from the age of 13 that I wanted to be a physician, and I was eager to start medical school and my medical career as soon as possible. The NJIT/SGU pathway program gave me the opportunity to do that. I also am very grateful that I had a seamless application process and pre-med experience, and it gave me the confidence I needed to be successful in medical school.

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SVM Students Tackle Junior Surgery “Boot Camp”

Approximately 40 new Term 6 students in the School of Veterinary Medicine received crucial clinical skills training during a Junior Surgery Boot Camp, taking place at the Junior Surgery and Anesthesia Laboratory (JSAL) this August. Orchestrated by the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, the Boot Camp allowed students who, due to the pandemic, were unable to practice the basics of spay and neuter surgeries and administering anesthesia during a typical Term 5 curriculum.

Over the course of the camp, students were able to experience all facets of spay/neuter surgeries as well as perform the roles of surgeon, assistant surgeon, and anesthetist, all while supervised by SVM faculty, according to Dr. Rodolfo Bruhl-Day, chair of the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery.

Students practiced receiving patients, completing a physical examination, reviewing lab data, and administering anesthesia. They also participated in the discharge process and completion of medical records, Dr. Bruhl-Day said.

Surgeries were done on 36 dogs. Owners from all around Grenada brought their canine patients to the boot camp. The dogs were also dewormed and vaccinated.

Students will receive further surgery instruction and practice during the regular term.

 

New Term 6 SVM students received crucial clinical skills training during a Junior Surgery Boot Camp this month.

 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

 

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Adjusting to life in Grenada? Drop in to the International Students Office

As part of the broader support services offered by the Office of the Dean of Students, the International Students Office (ISO) provides a wide range of assistance and resources to new and returning students.

With a global faculty and student body made up of 151 countries, St. George’s University’s newly designated International Students Office (ISO) supports SGU’s diverse campus population.

As part of the broader support services offered by the Office of the Dean of Students, ISO provides a wide range of assistance and resources to new and returning students (both on campus and studying remotely). Services include:

  • Assisting students with visa and immigration inquiries;
  • Providing conversational learning sessions to help students develop their English language skills;
  • Supporting students with cultural adjustments and transitioning to life at SGU and Grenada;
  • Hosting workshops to share tips on healthy student living; and
  • Encouraging incoming students to partake in ISO’s peer mentor program.

“Our international peer mentors serve as ambassadors who meet with parents, prospective students, and international visitors from universities and other agencies,” said Rhanisha Alexander-Daniel, associate director of the International Student Office. “These meetups allow them to share their experience at SGU, while giving more insight into the history and culture of our campus.”

Students can find more information about the International Students Office on the University Portal.

ISO is located at the True Blue campus Welcome Centre. Walk-ins are welcomed or appointments can be booked for a one-on-one consultation with an ISO team member at internationalstudents@sgu.edu.

– Ray-Donna Peters

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SGU Welcomes Inaugural April Class

Siblings Stephan and Beatrice Attilus began their medical studies together at SGU this April.

Last week, St. George’s University welcomed its inaugural April class of aspiring doctors with a virtual White Coat Ceremony. Each term, the ceremony is held for first-term students, representing an important milestone marking their entry into the medical profession.

“I want to welcome the students from the first April start for the School of Medicine,” said Dr. Charles R. Modica, chancellor of SGU. “Forty-five years after our first charter class—and in the middle of a pandemic—you’ve decided to take upon yourselves the rigorous studies to pursue a medical degree. We’re here to help you succeed in any way we can, and if you’re anything like your predecessors, I think you’ll do just fine. We’re excited to have you as the newest charter class of the University.”

The 2025 April class joined its fellow incoming students from the August 2020 and January 2021 classes from St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University Four- and Five-Year Program and the School of Medicine, who had their White Coat Ceremonies in March. The April class welcomed students from 22 countries, including the United States, Ecuador, Canada, Argentina, India, Algeria, China, Grenada, Jamaica, Nigeria, Cuba, Guyana, Haiti, Fiji, Republic of South Korea, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Ghana, Rwanda, and Ukraine.

In his welcome remarks to the latest incoming class, Dr. Marios Loukas, the dean of the School of Medicine, encouraged the medical students to strive for excellence in their pursuit of knowledge and to heed the oath they were about to pledge.

“As you don your white physician’s coats, you pledge an oath of professionalism and service,” said Dr. Loukas. “Professionalism is a commitment to integrity, altruism, competence, and ethics in the service of others. We must endeavor to honor the sacred trust and privilege society places on medical professionals—cognizant that the standard is an ideal that we must continuously aim to achieve. I welcome you to the noble profession of medicine.”

In his keynote address, Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of SGU and a tropical disease specialist, shared his knowledge and expertise about the fight against COVID-19. He focused on the history of the white coat and the place physicians held in society.

“We have an opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic to reestablish what’s important in physicians,” said Dr. Olds. “By taking on great personal risk and sometimes becoming surrogate loved ones while caring for patients, this global health crisis has shined a light on healthcare professionals on the frontlines and created a new opportunity for all healthcare workers to be appreciated by greater society.”

After sharing a touching story on what it means to be a good physician, Dr. Olds left the newest class of future doctors with a few additional words of wisdom.

“You will learn a lot of medical facts from your faculty—facts about the body and how it breaks down in disease,” he said. “You’ll learn how to diagnose difficult illnesses and how to treat them. But if you’re open to it, you’ll learn how to become a better doctor largely from your patients. So, as you don your white coat today, welcome to the noble profession of medicine.” 

– Ray-Donna Peters

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