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.

Commonwealth Secretary-General to Deliver Keynote at Education Conference in Grenada

The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, has agreed to deliver a keynote address at the annual conference of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC) in Grenada from May 21-23 at St. George’s University.

The CEC annual conference takes place biennially in a Commonwealth member country and the United Kingdom. This is the first time that it has been held in the Caribbean.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland

The title of the conference will be “Our Common Wealth: A Focus on Student Success.” Speakers who have also accepted the invitation include Dr. Joanna Newman MBE, Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities; Professor Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor Emeritus at the University of the West Indies; Dr. Jacky Lumarque, President of Quisqueya University, Haiti; and Professor Kenneth Matengu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Namibia, which hosted the CEC’s annual conference in 2017.

“There are a range of options and challenges facing the student community today, which previous generations did not have to face,” said Sonny Leong CBE, Chairman of the CEC. “The conference will explore the main challenges facing education provision in the 21st century in the Caribbean—and beyond, in the countries of our Commonwealth.”

“We are delighted to be hosting this conference,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “Over 20 percent of our students are from Commonwealth countries and we greatly value this association and the diversity it brings to our campus. We welcome representatives from government, education institutes, and teachers to work with us in developing answers and responses to the existing issues affecting education today and which impact student success.”

Patricia Scotland is the second Secretary-General of the Commonwealth from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.

St. George’s University Welcomes Incoming Veterinary Students in White Coat Ceremony

Last week, St. George’s University formally welcomed its newest class of aspiring veterinarians with the traditional White Coat Ceremony.

“Today is your next step along the road of realizing your dream of becoming a veterinarian,” said Dr. Neil C. Olson, dean of St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, in his opening remarks.

The White Coat Ceremony signifies the start of veterinary school for SGU’s January class. Students can begin their studies in either January or August.There are 828 students currently studying in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Nearly 90 percent are US citizens.

Other speakers at the event included St. George’s University Provost Glen Jacobs, Vice Chancellor Richard Liebowitz, and keynote speaker Dr. Janet Donlin, who serves as executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Donlin encouraged the incoming class to embrace new challenges and focus on the value of lifelong learning.

“You are our future, and our next generation of veterinarians, and tomorrow’s leaders in veterinary medicine,” Donlin said. “We’re proud of the goals you have set, and the desire you have to serve both animals and people in a changing world.”

Recently, St. George’s University earned full reaccreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. This allows St. George’s graduates to seek licensure in the United States and Canada after passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. The school’s graduates had a 95 percent pass rate on the exam in the 2017-18 school year. The reaccreditation also allows US students to apply for federal loans and deferments through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

St. George’s students spend their first three years in Grenada and complete their final year of study at an accredited affiliated school. The school has clinical partnerships with 29 other universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and Grenada. To date, St. George’s has trained over 1,400 veterinarians.

St. George’s University Welcomes New Class of Aspiring Doctors in White Coat Ceremony

Last week, St. George’s University welcomed its newest class of aspiring doctors to campus with the traditional White Coat Ceremony.

“It is a very special day, and the beginning of a new journey,” said Dr. Glen Jacobs, provost at St. George’s University, in his remarks before the new class. “I don’t know what it took you to get here today—each journey is different. But you should be really proud to be here.”

The ceremony signifies the start of medical school for St. George’s January class. Students can begin classes in either January or August.

Other speakers included Dr. Molly Kilpatrick, a 2013 graduate of St. George’s, who congratulated the incoming class and chronicled the history of the White Coat Ceremony. St. George’s University Vice Chancellor Richard Liebowitz offered words of encouragement and emphasized the value of a diverse student body, the importance of shared success, and the school’s extensive support network.

Dr. Daniel Herr, a 1981 graduate of St. George’s and the current chief of surgical critical care services and director of the Cardiac Surgery Unit at the University of Maryland, delivered the keynote address. He urged students to embrace new opportunities and take advantage of the globally focused education St. George’s provides.

“I advise you to really become a part of the culture of Grenada, because it will serve you well when you start going out into the medical school world, or out into the real world,” Dr. Herr said. “The real world isn’t just the United States anymore. The real world is interacting with other countries, other cultures, and learning other medicine.”

Altogether, nearly 100 countries on six continents are represented within the St. George’s student body.

Among the other highlights from the ceremony was the surprise presentation of a white coat to incoming student Aidrian Ranjith by his parents Ranjith Mahadeva and Koshela Ranjith, who are both SGU alumni currently practicing medicine in Ontario.

“I have no doubt that every student in this room is going to be successful,” said Dr. Liebowitz in his remarks. “At SGU, we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that success.”

SGU Medical Students Get Their Start in Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program

In January, 34 students from St. George’s University took their first steps into the medical profession at a traditional White Coat Ceremony held at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK. They joined the prestigious Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), a longstanding partnership between SGU and Northumbria University that is now in its 12th year. Students in the program are able to take the first year of their Doctor of Medicine degree at NU, before settling in Grenada to continue their studies.

The White Coat Ceremony was emceed by Dr. Derrick Eyong Ebot, MD SGU ’09, who started in the KBTGSP and is now one of the program’s clinical tutors. Dr. Ebot spoke of his time studying at Northumbria before introducing the White Coat Speaker, Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of SGU.

Dr. Olds gave a moving address, drawing heavily on his personal experiences as a doctor of medicine, to impress upon the students that their motivation must always be what is in the best interest of their patients. Enrollees were then invited onto the stage to be robed in their white coats; a symbol of the responsibility society places on those in the medical profession.

“Our relationship with Northumbria University is a vital component in our ability to offer our students a truly international education,” Dr. Olds said. “By training in different countries with international colleagues, SGU graduates will have experienced a diversity of medical and cultural settings—standing them in good stead to be world-leading doctors. This is reflected in the current group of students here in Newcastle, who come from 12 countries on four continents.”

Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program Hosts British Association of Clinical Anatomists Winter Meeting at Northumbria University

All elements of anatomy—the backbone of medicine—were on the table for discussion and examination at last month’s British Association of Clinical Anatomists (BACA) Winter Meeting at Northumbria University, UK. Hosted by St. George’s University’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, for which SGU’s medical students spend their first preclinical year on the NU campus, the meeting welcomed clinical anatomists, surgeons, and students from the UK and beyond.

Dr. James Coey, Assistant Dean of Basic Sciences at SGU’s Newcastle campus, and Dr. Sara Sulaiman, Teaching Fellow at the University of Bristol, hosted the meeting, which was attended by 80 delegates, primarily from the United Kingdom. It included 16 oral presentations and 29 posters covering gross, microscopic, clinical, applied, translational, surgical, and radiographical anatomy, as well as anatomy education.

The conference included a plenary lecture from Dr. Stephen Clark, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, and professor of cardiothoracic transplantation, presented on the topic “Heart Transplantation: Anatomy and Surgical Techniques.” SGU’s Marios Loukas, dean of basic sciences, professor of anatomical sciences and president of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) presented a keynote titled “A Snapshot of Anatomical Translational Research and its Applications.” SGU was further represented through two oral presentations and four poster presentations from clinical faculty (Drs. Al-Jaberi, Bourne, Ebot, Elajnaf and Hilal) and Nosheen Sandhu, a first-year medical student, working in a research group led by Drs. Coey and Hilal with local and international collaborative partners.

“I believe in collaboration as a channel of continuous advancement and progress,” Dr. Sulaiman said. “Hosting a BACA meeting where the best minds of anatomy come together under one roof for an entire day is the perfect opportunity to drive new ideas and foster future partnerships.”

“This conference has clearly demonstrated what can be achieved through reinforcing links between partner associations, establishing new academic and clinical connections, and fostering future collaboration,” added Dr. Coey. “Encouraging students, physicians, and academics alike to engage and participate is paramount to the future of our associations”

Dr. Sulaiman began attending BACA meetings when she was a student at the University of Dundee in Scotland, calling them a “supportive, nurturing environment” that helped her thrive as a researcher. Drs. Sulaiman and Coey went on to design a selective in 2015 for SGU students to introduce the research cycle and further their anatomical knowledge through a self-directing learning exercise. Since its inception, 33 students have presented their work at international conferences leading to publication abstracts in clinical anatomy.

“I’ve had my students attending and presenting across the years and I was so glad to see them benefiting from its encouraging and stimulating atmosphere as I did years ago,” she said. “To me, hosting a BACA meeting was a dream and being involved in organizing a world-class, well-recognized scientific meeting was truly an amazing experience.”

Founded in 1977, BACA aims to advance and publish the study and research of clinical anatomy in the United Kingdom. The organization hosts two scientific meetings each year, providing an opportunity for members and other attendees to network with fellow academics and clinicians who share an interest in anatomy. In addition, the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, a collaboration between BACA, AACA, and international associations from New Zealand, Australia (ANZACA), and South Africa (ASSA), publishes eight times each year, displaying original and review articles of scientific, clinical, and educational interest.

The success of BACA helped spawn the AACA in February 1983. Dr. Ralph Ger, a professor in Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Department of Anatomy, had attended the BACA meeting in 1982. He recognized the need for a better forum for clinicians, teachers and students to discuss the status and future of anatomy, and later became one of the AACA’s 18 founding members.

SGU Faculty and Students Join Celebration of Grenadian Peer at WINDREF Dinner in the House of Lords

St. George’s University faculty and students were among a distinguished crowd of Caribbean diplomats and international donors at the fifth WINDREF Dinner in the House of Lords on Thursday, December 6. The dinner was held in support of the Sport for Health program of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), based on the True Blue campus. Special tribute was paid throughout the evening to Baroness Howells of St. Davids, outgoing President of WINDREF, and the only Grenadian peer in the House of Lords.

The dinner, held under the title of “Global Health in a Changing World,” was attended by more than 120 guests, including Caribbean High Commissioners, Grenada-born Dr. Johnson Beharry VC, recipient of the Victoria Cross, and Grenada’s Olympic gold medal-winning 400 meter runner Kirani James, Sporting Ambassador for Sport for Health. The keynote address was given by Dr. Richard Horton, editor of the medical journal The Lancet.

A silent auction was held after dinner, with prizes including James’ signed tracksuit and running spikes. All of the money raised through the auction will go towards supporting Sport for Health programs on the island.

Dr. Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of SGU, led guests in a celebration of Baroness Howells, who will be standing down from the role as WINDREF President at the end of the year before retiring from the House of Lords in January, bringing to an end an illustrious 20-year parliamentary career.

It was announced at the dinner that Dr. Modica and his wife, Lisa, would be making a personal donation of $100,000 to the Sport for Health program, which is to be renamed the Baroness Howells Sport for Health program in honor of her tireless work promoting Caribbean values and interests in the UK.

Through Sport for Health, WINDREF aims to promote a healthy lifestyle in the Caribbean and beyond through sport, diet, and exercise. Sport for Health engages communities in partnership initiatives and advocacy projects, all with the aim of improving Grenadians’ quality of life now and in the future.

Dr. Calum Macpherson, Founding Vice President of WINDREF, said that the dinner was a “resounding success, raising funds for the invaluable work of Sport for Health.”

Based on the True Blue Campus of SGU, WINDREF scientists are affiliated with SGU’s Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies.

Graduates Help Usher in New Class of Medical Students at St. George’s University

 

Walter Bakun, MD SGU ’83, had once traversed the stage as a medical student himself. Three years ago, his eldest son, Zachary, followed in his footsteps, and is now a third-year student doing his clinical rotations. This fall, his second son, Walter II, joined the SGU community by taking part in the Fall 2018 White Coat Ceremony at Patrick F. Adams Hall.

Having enjoyed a long and fruitful career as an internist in New Jersey, Dr. Bakun looks back fondly on his time in Grenada, and is overjoyed to see both his sons take the same path.

“I wouldn’t have traded my SGU experience for anything else,” said Dr. Bakun. “I’m very happy with what SGU gave to me and equally pleased with what it’s continuing to give to the community and the world over with the doctors that it’s producing. Today was a great personal honor for me to coat my son because I feel that he will continue the work that I’ve been doing after I’m gone.”

Dr. Bakun wasn’t the only alumnus coming back to SGU to coat his son. All together, this fall’s incoming SOM and SVM class welcomed backed 11 SGU graduates, including members of the Class of 1983 and 1991 to join in the special privilege of coating their children. The 2022 Grenada SOM class joined their fellow students from the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, who began their journey two weeks before at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. The Grenada ceremonies helped make up the University’s bi-annual Beyond Spice Family Weekend.

Another familiar face returning to SGU was the evening’s master of ceremonies, Corey Schwartz, MD SGU ’98, a hematologist and oncologist specializing in sarcoma and breast cancer at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. Dr. Schwartz is also a member of the inaugural combined MD/MSc class, and knew exactly how this new class of aspiring physicians felt, as he embarked on the same journey almost a quarter of a century ago.

“For me, what SGU meant was opportunity. I jumped at the opportunity to be part of the first Master’s/MD program offered by the University,” stated Dr. Schwartz. “Another amazing thing about SGU is that it allows you to achieve your dreams. Yes, there are challenges along the way, but the school gives you all the support that you need to make this happen and it does a fantastic job of that. The USMLE scores speak for themselves.

“It’s very easy to get caught up in the treadmill of one task after another trying to become a doctor and forgetting why you started in the first place,” added Dr. Schwartz. “So, I would encourage you right now to ask yourself ‘what does medicine mean to me?’ and ‘why am I here?’ Your answers are really unique to you, and it’s important that you carry them in your heart and your mind throughout your career if you want to stay on track and make sure your dreams come true. Abraham Lincoln said, “discipline is choosing between what you want right now and what you want the most.” I urge you all to work for what you want the most.”

Also returning to SGU to deliver his second keynote speech was John J. Cush, MD SGU ’82, a practitioner, educator and leader in the field of rheumatology, and a member of the second graduating class of St. George’s University School of Medicine. Dr. Cush had previously delivered the keynote address at the August 2007 White Coat Ceremony and was excited to share a few excerpts from a letter by Dr. Adam Cifu from the Journal of the American Medical Association on advice for students starting medical school.

Lesson number 1: Often the most important service we provide for a patient is not what we think. For instance, there’s a lot more than knowledge to becoming a doctor. Your time, interest, curiosity, are all fabulous ideals that are very important to your patients.

“Lesson number 2: Much of what you are taught is wrong. For example, getting too close to patients is a dangerous thing and to never except a gift from a patient. Patients want to thank you and accepting their gifts is a lot like accepting their compliments. You have to be careful. Don’t shun them. Don’t minimize them. Be gracious, admit that the gift means a lot to you, and thank them.

Lesson 3: Keep a sunshine folder. In it you can stash your notes from patients, your pictures, great letters of recommendation, and other small accolades of things you’ve done for your patients. On good days, they’ll be very important to you and you’ll be able to add to them. On bad days, you’ll come to look at that sunshine folder and realize that life is not so bad. That sunshine folder is there to lift your spirits when you need it most.”

In closing, Dr. Cush left the students with a final few words of inspiration.

“Today as we put the white coat on you, our hands on your shoulders means that we have confidence in you and great expectations of you and we expect to hear your success story a few years from now.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

Future Veterinarians Embark on Unique SGU Experience Beginning With White Coat Ceremony

As veterinary medical students all across the United States recited the Oath of Professional Commitment at their own White Coat Ceremonies, Dr. Lauren Wise, Master of Ceremonies at St. George’s University, assured members of the Class of 2022 that although they would be held to the same exceptional standards as their counterparts abroad, their experience in Grenada would make them very unique veterinary medical students.

“You now live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Embrace it and love every second of it,” said Dr. Wise, Associate Professor, Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, SGU. “For the next three years, you get to be a part of a culture that is fascinating and has a rich history. The people are proud and friendly, and they want you to be a part of this community while you’re here. So, don’t stay in your dorm room, get out there.

“The last thing that sets you apart is that you’re far away from home,” she added. “However, it’s going to make you be more resilient, stronger, and you’re going to form life-long friendships.”

Dr. Jack Hammett and his wife Denise traveled more than 2,000 miles from Spotsylvania, Virginia to sit among the proud family members and friends in attendance at the Fall 2018 SVM White Coat Ceremony. Dr. Hammett has spent over 30 years in mixed animal practice, and the last 15 in equine small animal. The proud dad who had the honor of coating his son, Jared, on stage during the ceremony was among 11 SGU graduates who returned for this fall’s SOM and SVM White Coat Ceremonies.

“My son has worked with me in the practice for years, gone everywhere with me, and he’s such a great young man,” praised Dr. Hammett. “When trying to describe how I felt coating my son, words fail me. I’m so proud of him. He’s done such a great job so far and I have great expectations for him. I was ecstatic for him when I found out he got accepted to SGU. I’ve practiced veterinary medicine for decades and there’s nothing else I’d rather do. It’s just a great profession and a great and fulfilling way to serve the community.”

“I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian—ever since I was small and going on farm calls with my dad,” shared Jared Hammett. “I’ve been working at his clinic during my summer breaks from college for the past three years, so I’ve seen firsthand that being a vet is the best job in the world.”

Echoing this sentiment was the evening’s keynote speaker, Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).

“Be curious, not complacent, be skeptical, but not cynical and keep wondering because the world is full of wonder and you’re about to embark on a wonderful career,” Dr. Maccabe said.

The Class of 2022 will work toward joining the more than 1,600 graduates of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, which accepted its first class in August 1999. The School has since gained full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the Small Animal Clinic became the second practice outside the United States and Canada to earn American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accreditation. The AVMA Council on Education will conduct a site visit this April, as part of the reaccreditation process for the School of Veterinary Medicine.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Global Scholars Take First Steps in Medical Profession at White Coat Ceremony

The longstanding partnership between St. George’s University, Grenada, and Northumbria University, UK, was strengthened again as 72 students joined the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP). The relationship between the two institutions, now in its eleventh year, enables SGU students to take the first year of their MD degree—basic sciences—at Northumbria University, before returning to Grenada to continue their studies.

The occasion was marked by a traditional White Coat Ceremony, where the students were ‘robed’ in their white coats, a symbol of the medical profession, before taking an oath of commitment to use their training for the benefit of others. A key focus of the KBTGSP is to encourage medical students to devote at least a portion of their professional lives to the service of developing countries, underserved regions of the world, or international NGOs.

Leading the occasion was Master of Ceremonies, Gordon Bourne, MD SGU ’17, a graduate and faculty member of the KBTGSP at Northumbria, where he serves as a clinical tutor. As the grandson of SGU’s first Vice Chancellor, Dr. Geoffrey Bourne, and nephew of its third Vice Chancellor, Dr. Peter Bourne, his family has a long history with SGU. A former Royal Marine, Dr. Bourne spent seven years working and traveling in Sub-Saharan Africa, principally working with anti-poaching units in Tanzania. “Learning how to adapt and how to survive” is as useful in medical school as in the marines or the bush, he told the students.

Dr. Bourne introduced Baroness Howells of St. Davids, the only Grenadian in the UK’s House of Lords and president of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF)—SGU’s research arm. Baroness Howells welcomed the students, and remarked, “You will enjoy your time at this splendid university before continuing your studies at SGU in Grenada, where you can bask in the land of perpetual sun”.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of SGU. In his speech, Dr. Olds told three personal stories from his medical career that shaped him into the doctor he is today. “I hope to leave you with something you remember for longer than you are in this room”, he said. Dr. Olds emphasized, in all three cases, “always do what’s best for your patients, ahead of all other considerations.”

Having been robed in their white coats, the students joined their friends and families at a reception, before taking their first steps into a career in medicine.