Fall 2019 Veterinary Class Embarks on “Unique Odyssey”

Once a St. George’s University student herself, Deborah Coy, MD ’88, returned to Grenada 17 years later with the eldest of her three daughters, Danielle, now a first-term School of Veterinary Medicine student at SGU. The veterinarian-in-training joined her Class of 2023 brethren in August for the SVM White Coat Ceremony, marking their entry into the veterinary medical profession.

This fall marks the 20-year anniversary of the school opening its doors in True Blue. Dr. Coy marveled as the changes to campus, and cherished the opportunity to coat her daughter as she took the next step toward becoming a career in veterinary medicine.

“The changes to the campus since the last time I was here are so impressive. I love it,” enthused Dr. Coy, now a practicing pediatrician in Towaco, NJ. “I am so very proud that my daughter chose to attend SGU. I feel like she’s reliving what I did so many years ago.”

“In a way, I grew up here at SGU,” shared Danielle Macstudy. “My mom brought me back several times until I was about 4 or 5 years old. I’ve always known I wanted to work with animals, so from a young age I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian. Then I fell in love with SGU from hearing all of these wonderful stories from my mom.

“That’s why I wanted to come here just like she did.”

Also returning to SGU was alumnus and master of ceremonies Tatiana De Oliveira, DVM SGU ’12. She welcomed them to the veterinary medical profession, assuring them that opportunities were boundless but also reminding them, that regardless of which career path they took, they would now have the ability to make a huge impact on the lives of people and animals.

“Get to know your amazing faculty. They are your biggest supporters,” she encouraged. “Go explore this beautiful island, there’s so much to do, to see, and to learn. Remember to set goals for yourself, big and small. And finally stay focused and seek help when times get tough. Always remember why you started this journey in the first place and remember how inspired you are today.”

In his keynote address, Dr. Willie M. Reed, an internationally recognized expert in avian pathology, diagnostic medicine, and infectious diseases, also touted St. George’s University for providing an excellent foundation for more than 1,600 veterinarians since opening in 1999. He advised the students to set their goals one brick higher than they thought possible on the foundation that they would be given as veterinary students. He encouraged them to never stop pursuing their dreams, to always have more dreams than memories, and that dreams don’t end upon admission to veterinary school.

“You will be the leaders who must guide the veterinary profession as it expands its horizons in the 21st century,” stated Dr. Reed, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Professor of Veterinary Anatomic Pathology at Purdue University. “The challenges will be significant, but rest assured the next four years will prepare you to assume this mantle of responsibility. I encourage you to take full advantage of the unique odyssey you are about to embark upon to fulfill the potential which each of you possesses.”

St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine recently earned full reaccreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. This allows SGU graduates to seek licensure in the United States and Canada after passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. It also allows US students to apply for federal loans and deferments through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

St. George’s University students spend their first three years in Grenada and complete their final year of study at an accredited affiliated school. The SVM has clinical partnerships with 29 other universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and Grenada.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Eugene Becomes First Caribbean National to Lead SAS

Dr. Lucy Eugene

As the new Dean of St. George’s University’s School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), Dr. Lucy Eugene is deeply committed to its growth. Her appointment as dean is the latest advancement in her near decade of professional service to SGU.

Dr. Eugene assumed her new role on August 16 after serving in the position in an interim capacity since February 2019. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, she is the first Caribbean national to become the school’s dean. Given that many of the school’s nearly 800 students as well as faculty are from Grenada and the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean, she plans to use knowledge of Caribbean culture to her advantage.

“I want students and faculty to continue to be proud that they belong to a school that recognizes their Caribbean upbringing while enhancing opportunities for them to make meaningful contributions not only in Grenada but regionally and internationally,” said Dr. Eugene. “That’s what this position means to me—being able to make a difference in their lives.”

Dr. Eugene has been a part of the SGU faculty since July 2010. Dr. Eugene served eight years in the Department of Business and Management Studies as a professor and chair, where she lectured on international business law and trade regulations. In May 2018, she took on the role of associate provost for faculty and administrative affairs for SGU before becoming interim dean for SAS.

“We are very pleased to appoint Dr. Eugene as dean of SAS,” said Dr. Glen Jacobs, SGU Provost. “Lucy’s longtime commitment to SGU, her deep involvement in the school through various committees and initiatives, and forward thinking about the future of the SAS and the student experience will ensure continued success in her new role.”

Dr. Eugene has placed enrollment growth, quality assurance (including accreditation), and faculty development at the top of her priority list. She has already launched plans to standardize quality assurance processes and obtain accreditation for SAS programs through the Grenada National Accreditation Board (GNAB) and other professional international accreditation bodies. For faculty, Dr. Eugene wants to create opportunities for them to further their own professional aspirations including working closely with SGU’s Department of Educational Services.

“As a longtime faculty member and administrative member of SAS, I am very familiar with the issues and concerns of the students, faculty, and staff, and I am approaching this position with a sensitivity and appreciation of those issues,” Dr. Eugene said.

For example, she noted that, as dean, she has been able to pursue classroom upgrades in a meaningful way so that classes are “consistent with the high quality evident throughout the rest of the university, giving students and faculty a sense of integration with the rest of the SGU community.”

Dr. Eugene received her PhD in Law from the School of Law at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. Before joining SGU, she lectured at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus. In addition to her academic appointments, Dr. Eugene served as the regional coordinator for the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) UWI training programs throughout the Caribbean. Her research interests include international business opportunities for small- and medium-size enterprises—particularly those in developing countries—as well as investment, educational services, and labor law issues related to international trade.

“To have been recognized and appreciated is very fulfilling for me in this stage of my career,” Dr. Eugene said. “I am honored to have been given this opportunity and I look forward to using my experience and perspective to grow SAS to its full potential.”

– Laurie Chartorynsky

Summer Academy Provides Students With Insight Into Medical and Veterinary Medical Careers

In its 17th year, the St. George’s University Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy continued to provide an insider’s view for college and high school students interested in exploring a career in medicine or veterinary medicine. This summer also marked the largest turnout since the program’s inception in 2002, with 133 aspiring physicians and veterinarians visiting the University’s True Blue campus in Grenada.

The high school student program ran for 10 days, while the Medical Leadership component of the college student program spanned 12 days. Qualified students are eligible for college credit through the School of Arts and Sciences.

“By coming here, students get the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not this career choice is right for them,” said Avi Bahadoor-Yetman, director of the Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy. “This experience will either reinforce their passion to practice medicine or veterinary medicine or help them decide this is not the professional path for them.”

Hailing from the United States, Canada, South Korea, Thailand, Philippines and more than 10 other countries, the students were taught through a series of lectures, small-group problem solving sessions, hands-on training, and practical lab work. This year’s lectures ranged from cardiology and neurology to musculoskeletal and gastroenterology, and each is followed by sessions in the anatomy lab during which students work with human and animal cadavers.

However, the program isn’t all work. The academics are balanced out by watersports such as sailing, waterskiing, and snorkeling, as well as hiking through Grenada’s rainforests and other activities that highlight the culture and beauty of the island.

Nonetheless, fatigue is built into program and no matter the schedule, the 15-hour days are by design.

“Attending medical school or veterinary school is both rigorous and exhausting in nature,” said Ms. Bahadoor-Yetman. “Hence the program is designed to create an authentic experience successfully balancing a challenging academic program with extracurricular activities. They get a taste of curriculum, SGU, and Grenada. In addition, the quality of the professors and the organization of the staff help make this an invaluable experience that enhances students’ knowledge in the field of medicine or veterinary medicine, while also offering a tremendous opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

Grenada Class of 2019 Inspired to Bloom

In a riveting speech, H.E. Mrs. Akima Paul Lambert, Grenada’s Ambassador to the Holy See and keynote speaker at the 2019 Grenada commencement ceremony at St. George’s University, encouraged the new graduates to see that their past struggles often provided the best teaching moments.

These challenges and conquests have provided inspiration for the nearly 420 graduates from 31 countries. The 2019 class included more than 230 students from the School of Arts and Sciences, and 110 from the School of Graduate Studies, with one PhD graduate in attendance. Medical doctorates were conferred on 77 new physicians from the School of Medicine. Ceremonies for the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will take place at New York City’s Lincoln Center in June.

“Graduands, I beseech you to go forth in your authentic selves, bring your light of change to the world,” said Ambassador Paul Lambert, who as both a diplomat and solicitor advocate, champions issues related to international economic development and human rights. She was one of the youngest awardees of the United Nations Global 500 Award for services to the environment.

She went on to reference three Grenadian sayings that share lessons that benefited her in her much accomplished life. “Do not succumb to the shadows of regression or prejudice and frame your challenges as your finest teachings. Burn bright around the globe as proud agents of change, proud citizens of the world and proud graduates of St. George’s University. Bloom in your dry season.”

In addition to the three lessons imparted by the keynote speaker, in her valedictory address, Nanditha Guruvaiah, BSc ’19, offered three ingredients in order to succeed at SGU—willpower, a plan, and not enough time in the day.

“The will to succeed, the aspiration to win, and the impulse to maximize your full potential are the keys that will unlock the pathway to individual greatness,” said Ms. Guruvaiah. “St. George’s University has given us the key that will unlock a future of endless opportunities. Let us use it to solve global issues and become the change we want to see in this world.”

Also addressing her fellow graduates was the class speaker for the School of Graduate Studies, Tyann Gabriel, MD ’15. She too offered up her own nine lessons as reminders for the students as they continued along their journeys. Her words of wisdom included having goals but remembering to be flexible, making time for self-reflection, seizing the moment, creating change, and knowing that the journey doesn’t end here today.

“Today I urge you, I challenge you to continue to think beyond,” said Dr. Gabriel. “I challenge you to go beyond. Go beyond all your uncertainties. Go beyond all your fears. I challenge each and everyone one of us to go beyond excellence.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

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, preclinical 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