Scholars From Botswana, Where 1 in 5 Doctors Graduated From SGU, Begin Medical Studies in Grenada

Aerial images of Sir Eric Gairy Hall and Andrew J. Belford Centre.

Three students from Botswana have taken their first steps towards a career in medicine at St. George’s University (SGU), the leading international medical school in the Caribbean, after being awarded full-tuition scholarships to study on the four-year MD program.

Wathata Onalethata Ntwayapelo, Lungowe Kabasiya, and Chevula C. Munaani arrived last month, in the latest example of St. George’s long-standing relationship with the Ministry of Health and Education and the Government of Botswana, which offers full-tuition scholarships to qualified students to pursue medical degrees.

Approximately one in every five practicing doctors in Botswana is a graduate of SGU—a remarkable demonstration of SGU’s commitment to training qualified global physicians to work across the world in areas of need. SGU is now the second largest source of doctors for the entire US workforce, and a further one in every five physicians in Trinidad and Tobago are also SGU graduates, underlining the exceptional range of career opportunities for qualified doctors trained in Grenada.

“At St. George’s University, our international student body has always been our greatest asset and building the capacity of young doctors in training to address global health challenges is part of our philosophy as a medical school,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University.

“We recognize that there are two aspects to this: helping ambitious and qualified students who may not otherwise have access to a leading medical education to study with us in Grenada, but also acting as a provider of doctors for those places of need, helping to address shortages in healthcare provision and combating health inequality,” Dr. Olds said. “Few countries exemplify that better than Botswana, and we are tremendously proud of our joint achievements in this area.”

Added Dr. Olds: “We’re pleased to welcome Wathata Onalethata Ntwayapelo, Lungowe Kabasiya, and Chevula C. Munaani to our True Blue campus and look forward to helping guide them on their path to a career in medicine.”

Profound Impact: SGU Educated Second-Most Licensed Physicians in US in 2018

For more than 40 years, St. George’s University has provided highly qualified physicians to the United States, and never before has its impact been more evident. According to a recent report published in the Journal of Medical Regulation, SGU educated the second-most licensed physicians in the United States in 2018.

The research, titled “Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) Census of Licensed Physicians in the United States, 2018,” showed that 10,791 US-based doctors had graduated from St. George’s University, the most among international medical schools, including those in the Caribbean. SGU stood behind only Indiana University School of Medicine with 11,828 graduates worldwide.

“St. George’s University physicians are making a positive influence on US healthcare every day and in every corner of the country,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of SGU. “We are proud of the quality of care they provide and look forward to continuing our mission of training doctors of the highest caliber.”

In 2019 alone, SGU graduates secured more than 960 US residencies in 43 states and in specialties ranging from anesthesiology and emergency medicine to pediatrics and surgery. It marks the fifth consecutive year that SGU was the number one provider of new doctors to the US healthcare system.

The FSMB report also revealed that the percentage of practicing doctors who graduated from a Caribbean medical school had grown by 78 percent since 2010. Since opening its doors in 1977, SGU has trained more than 16,000 School of Medicine graduates who have gone on to practice in all 50 United States and more than 50 countries around the world.

“St. George’s University is committed to preparing our students with the foundation of knowledge and clinical skills to prosper in their medical careers,” said Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor of SGU. “Our graduates have not only demonstrated their excellence in a hospital setting but also the profound effect that, collectively, they have on medical care in the US and globally.”

-Laurie Chartorynsky

SGU’s DVM Program Gains Full Accreditation From Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons

Adding to its growing list of achievements, the St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program has received full accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the organization that sets the standards of veterinary care in the United Kingdom, through 2024.

As a result of the accreditation, SGU’s DVM graduates, who have also completed the Global Veterinary Health Track, will be eligible to register as members of the RCVS and practice in the UK without further examination. The School of Veterinary Medicine is now one of the few schools in the world to be accredited by both the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) in the United States and Canada, as well as the RCVS in the UK.

“The RCVS accreditation reaffirms SGU’s commitment to offering the highest-quality education and services to aspiring veterinary students,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Our dual accreditation is a major feather in our cap for the future recruitment of the best and brightest students and faculty to our program from around the world.”

The RCVS is the veterinary regulatory body responsible for monitoring the educational, ethical, and clinical standards of practicing veterinarians in the UK and the Commonwealth of Nations. It evaluated the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program on the following 12 accreditation standards:

  • Organization
  • Finances
  • Facilities and equipment
  • Animal resources
  • Information resources
  • Student caliber
  • Admission and progression criteria
  • Academic and support staff qualifications
  • Curriculum
  • Assessment policies, methods, standards, and quality assurance
  • Research programs, continuing and higher degree education, and
  • Outcomes assessment procedures

Dean Olson was notified of the RCVS accreditation in a September 13 letter and notified students of the achievement that afternoon. The RCVS had first visited SGU in 2017 and offered suggestions and recommendations. It was satisfied that improvements had been made during a recent follow-up visit to the school.

The accreditation builds on the School of Veterinary Medicine’s growing accolades. Last November, the AVMA renewed the SVM’s accreditation through 2025—the maximum seven-year term for accreditation. SGU’s SVM is one of 19 AVMA-accredited schools outside the US, and one of just two in the Caribbean. In addition, SGU’s Small Animal Clinic (SAC) was recently re-accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) through 2022, having earned the full three-year term for re-accreditation.

Now in its 20th year, the School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated nearly 1,700 students who have gone on to practice in 49 states in the United States and 16 other countries around the world. The School maintains partnerships with 31 universities and clinical facilities in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, where fourth-year students spend a year of clinical training at an affiliated veterinary school.

“To be fully accredited by the RCVS puts us right at the top in terms of the quality of training that we provide to our students looking to pursue a career in animal health care,” said Dr. Olson. “As we continue to expand and grow our successful veterinary program at SGU, we will look for further partnerships around the world.”

– Laurie Chartorynsky

Career Day Helps Students Choose Path Toward Successful Future

For more than a decade, St. George’s University and Rotaract Club of Grenada Career Day has been important not only for the future of Grenadian citizens but for the island as a whole.

This month, the True Blue campus welcomed hundreds of secondary school students and young adults from across the nation to explore a diverse range of career opportunities and the educational tools to help them reach their goals. It allowed attendees to mix with Grenada’s industry leaders and other respected professionals in smaller group settings to evaluate how they can develop themselves, their families, and their country.

“St. George’s University provides an ideal setting to offer this kind of guidance to students in answering the oft-difficult question of what career to choose, given this constantly evolving and competitive global marketplace,” said Colin Dowe, associate dean of admissions at SGU. “It is critical that we encourage our young Grenadians to explore non-traditional and emerging disciplines, which can foster both personal and national development.”

The SGU/Rotaract Club Career Day experience featured dozens of presentations utilizing its Career Track System, as well as interactive sessions led by current St. George’s University students. Eight different career tracks, ranging from agri-business and fashion to communications and meteorology, were set up in each of the major halls on campus. In addition to presentations for the students, the event featured the popular and informative Parents Session led by Mr. Dowe. The special session covered a range of topics—from financing your education to responding to the challenges faced by today’s students.

“I’m elated that SGU offered a special Parents Session at Career Day,” said Camme Roberts McIntosh, a Cherry Hill resident and mother of three. “I found the discussion on letting go and allowing your child to make their own decisions most helpful. It’s easier said than done when dealing with my eldest son, but I’m learning how to step back, release the reins a little bit, and trust him.”

“This is our second time coming to the Parents Session,” stated Petal Duncan from Laborie, St. Paul’s. “My husband and I were here last year when our daughter attended Career Day. We thought it was informative then and found it even more valuable this time around. There’s something very comforting about knowing you’re doing all you can to help prepare your child for university life and their future career. We thought it was important to be here and our daughter felt so too—in fact, every parent should be here.”

By holding Career Day, SGU’s goal is to assist students and parents in making informed career choices and motivating them along their journey towards educational and career fulfillment. As the largest private employer in Grenada, the University makes a point to fulfill its mandate as a good corporate citizen, embracing the opportunity to equip students with the tools to build a successful career path.

First-Year MD Student Presents Research at International Anatomy Conference

Pinthusorn “Blue” Eiamratchanee, a first-year medical student in the St. George’s University/Northumbria University 4-Year MD Program in the United Kingdom, recently presented the initial findings from a research collaborative between Mahidol University International College (MUIC) and SGU at the 19th Congress of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA) in London.

Blue’s research presentation titled, “Novel insights into the anatomy and function of intertendinous connections in human hand” was part of a collaboration established by Dr. James Coey, Assistant Dean of Basic Sciences at SGU, and Athikhun Suwannakhan, a PhD student in the Department of Anatomy at MUIC. The research group was also the first to classify the Linburg-Comstock variation—an anatomical variant of flexor tendons of the hand—into three different types with immunochemistry, and proposed that its etiology is secondary to a traumatic injury or an excessive use of the hand.

“It was such an honor to work with Dr. Coey, an expert in the field of anatomy, and Mr. Suwannakhan, who comes from one of the most prestigious universities in Thailand,” said Ms. Eiamratchanee. “I was really excited about participating and presenting my work at the IFAA conference. It was an amazing opportunity for me to engage in both technological and educational discussions with different associations of anatomists from around the world.

“I have always wanted to be a medical doctor and a researcher,” she added. “I believe that, by being both, it would give me opportunities to use the current knowledge of science to help people understand the problems and obstacles in providing healthcare to patients, as well as expand the current knowledge as a tool for other physicians to provide better and more accurate medical diagnosis, treatment, and/or surgery.”

St. George’s University was further represented at the conference through platform presentations from Dr. Marios Loukas, dean of basic sciences and research at SGU, along with numerous poster presentations and artwork submitted by Dr. Robert Hage, professor of anatomical sciences at SGU, and his daughter, Lisa Hage, MD ’10.

This research collaboration continues to strengthen the relationship between SGU and MUIC, following the partnership established in 2014 that launched a dual BSc/MD degree between the two universities, and most recently the MOU signed in 2018 allowing Mahidol students who successfully complete a premedical year of study to be eligible to enroll in SGU’s MD degree program.

“Blue is one of the first students to capitalize on this partnership, progressing from MUIC to SGU’s Northumbria program, and in her first year has managed to present at a prestigious international conference,” Dr. Coey said. “Additionally, the fact that this research was a collaboration with Mahidol paves the way for continued joint ventures in the future.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

Fall 2019 Visitors Join Extended SGU Family at 18th Beyond Spice Family Weekend

For James and Joyce Johnston, supporting their son Alexander’s dreams wherever they’ve led him was always a priority. First it was in his pursuits as a competitive ice hockey player. Now Alexander is a first-term student at St. George’s University School of Medicine, which prompted the Johnstons to join their son in Grenada at SGU’s 18th Beyond Spice Family Weekend.

“After getting injured while playing hockey, our son became inspired by his orthopedic surgeons to become a doctor,” shared Mr. Johnston. “We found out about SGU while researching medical schools together online and I encouraged him to apply. We couldn’t be prouder of his accomplishment.”

The Johnstons were one of dozens of families who soaked in Grenadian culture over the weekend, taking part in events such as a heritage tour, sea excursion, shopping opportunities, and a sunset barbecue. In addition, the weekend coincided with White Coat Ceremonies for medical and veterinary students, an event that marks their official entry into their respective professions.

“It’s a little hard on us with him moving so far away, so we decided to make it a vacation and join him for Family Weekend,” said Ms. Johnston. “I think every student should have a family member here for the Family Weekend. It connects parents with their students by letting them see firsthand what they’re getting involved in and it helps the parents get a better peace of mind.”

Michael Jacoby’s parents, on the other hand, had no qualms about their son moving three thousand miles away to attend medical school at St. George’s. Through their own research, Annie Allen and Doug Engman knew that students’ safety was paramount to SGU. The couple worried more about how Michael was going to get any studying done surrounded by such a spectacular view.

“I wasn’t the least bit worried about my son coming to SGU because I knew he would be safe there,” said Ms. Allen. “The island is wonderful and I’m already planning my next trip back.”

“The campus is distractingly beautiful, but in life, you’re going to have distractions,” stated Mr. Engman. “You have to be laser-focused on your goals. I don’t think SGU could have provided a more peaceful setting for students to get their studies done.”

Now celebrating its 11th year, Family Weekend continues to invite family members to visit the country and campus that their students have now made their home away from home.

“Each semester we happily look forward to opening our doors to host students’ families who’ve traveled from across the globe to experience a weekend of sun, sea, and family in the Spice Isle,” said Robert Ryan, dean of admission. “Family Weekend was also designed to allow our visitors to have meaningful interactions with our top administrators. The sense of pride and accomplishment with which the parents speak of their students not only brings joy to us but serves as a reminder of St. George’s deeply held commitment to assisting students in realizing their various academic and professional aspirations.”

According to Mr. Ryan, those who attended the sunset barbecue even had the opportunity to witness a green flash, a natural solar phenomenon that rarely occurs just as the sun dips below the horizon.

– Ray-Donna Peters

A Family Affair at School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies

Oftentimes older siblings have a strong influence on their younger siblings. Such was the case for St. George’s University medical student Moe Badran, who followed in the footsteps of his sister, Nawal Badran, MD ’09, and brother, Sam Badran, MD ’11, each of whose path to a career in medicine wove through Grenada.

With his own SGU education, Moe Badran looks forward to joining his sister, a board-certified physician in internal medicine based in Southern California, and brother, a child psychiatrist in Cincinnati, OH, in the medical field. He took one step closer to that goal, partaking in the Fall 2019 SOM White Coat Ceremonies.

“I grew up hearing about SGU for almost a decade from my siblings,” said the first-year student. “I had always heard great things and knew for a fact that SGU had that prestige and reputation of producing great doctors, so I proudly accepted the offer to come here.”

Similarly, Dr. Cameron Charchenko, a urologist from Bismarck, ND, was very influential in his sister Celeste’s decision to attend medical school. According to Dr. Charchenko, coating his sister was the second greatest day of his life, after his wedding day.

“My field of interest is surgery, but I’m hoping that one day my brother and I can work together,” Ms. Charchenko said. “He’s shown me a bit of urology surgery that I find really interesting so I’m hoping to grow up to follow in his footsteps. Sharing this moment together and him coating me was amazing and something I will never forget.”

This sentiment of families following in each other’s footsteps and working together was echoed by alumnus and master of ceremonies Leonard Levin, MD ’83. He returned to SGU after coating his son, Jacob, in this very same ceremony last year. Dr. Levin looks back fondly on his medical student experience.

“SGU is a family,” stated Dr. Levin. “There are families you’re born into and families that accepted you and you accepted them. Unlike being an undergraduate where there’s a lot of competition, here a rising tide floats all boats. So be there for each other, help each other, work with each other, be a team, and support each other through the trials and tribulations that will be out there in the future.”

Delivering the keynote address was Dr. Ross Upshur, who in 2015 was named one of the Top 20 Canadian Pioneers in Family Medicine Research and Family Medicine Researcher of the Year by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. He reminded members of the Class of 2023 that they stood on the threshold of commencing a career in one of the most respected professions and that, after donning their white coats, they would join a tradition of service to humanity that dates back through millennia.

“I’m thrilled that you have chosen to make the practice of medicine your career,” said Dr. Upshur, Dalla Lana Chair, Head of the Division of Clinical Public Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. “You will be constantly stimulated, seldom bored, and often awestruck by what you learn from your patients. They will be your greatest and most humbling teachers. You will garner insights about humanity that few others can.

“You will have enormous power and privilege—use it wisely and judiciously,” he continued. “Be generous and give back. I wish each of you success in your studies and hope that you have long and rewarding careers.”

In addition to serving as a rite of passage for aspiring physicians, the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies coincide with a weekend of activities that help make up Beyond Spice Family Weekend. The University’s bi-annual event welcomes students and family members to soak up nature and culture in Grenada.

– Ray-Donna Peters

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

SGU President Featured in San Francisco Chronicle

California’s doctor shortage is acute, with the situation poised to get worse. In an opinion piece appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle this week, Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University, shared why California needs more internationally educated doctors.

“International graduates are perfectly suited to meet the healthcare needs of historically medically underserved Californians,” Dr. Olds wrote. “Low-income Californians deserve access to high-quality care. The state needs more doctors to supply that care. International medical graduates can be those doctors.”