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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SGU alumni rally around Grenada amid COVID pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic put Grenada back on its heels, St. George’s University alumni put their best foot forward, bringing hope to their one-time home and setting the country on a promising path.

In the span of mere weeks, more than 200 School of Medicine alumni have volunteered their medical services, helped to procure all-important supplies, and contributed more than $70,000 through its newly created Grenada Medical Assistance GoFundMe page.

The Grenada COVID Crisis Group (GCCG), led by SGU graduates Michele Friday, MD ’88, Dwight Matthias, MD ’92, and Lisa Radix, MD ’97, has spearheaded the campaign—facilitating in-person and online patient care and crowdsourcing both funds and supplies that will help healthcare workers on the ground treat those who have contracted the virus. In addition, they aspire to educate the Grenadian community about the benefits of adhering to health protocols and, above all else, they support the COVID-19 vaccine in the population to flatten the curve, lessen the effects of recurring COVID infections, and lessen the burden of long COVID syndrome in recovering patients.

While addressing COVID-19, Dr. Friday hopes that the support received in recent weeks is the start of a long-term healthcare solution in Grenada.

“This pandemic has given us an opportunity to impact the healthcare of our fellowmen and families on the island and has imparted in us the vision to continue with the existing momentum to grow a stellar medical environment in Grenada,” said Dr. Friday, an interventional cardiologist based in Kentucky. “We hope that this medical ideal that we are striving towards, is something that each and every one of our Grenada-trained doctors—who have been educated at SGU, live in Grenada, or who work off island but are Grenadian in heart—would be proud of.”

Raised in Richmond Hill, St. George’s, Dr. Friday is one of more than 60 Grenada-born physicians who have rallied to support their home country. Three grads—Philip Bonaparte, MD ’89, Molara Alexis, MD ’05, and Carina David, MD ’16—arrived on island last week to begin working with local doctors, nurses, and staff.

VIDEO: Dr. Alexis and Dr. David speak about COVID-19 vaccines in Grenada

“I felt that it was important to help in a meaningful way, with the reduction in the workforce as some members contacted COVID-19, the likely possibility of fatigue due to an increased volume of work related to the surge, and the opportunity to provide moral support to frontline workers,” said Dr. Alexis. “As an infectious disease physician, I was keen to share any knowledge and experience with my colleagues in Grenada and to continue to educate the general population regarding the importance of vaccination.”

They’ll also work on building up the telemedicine infrastructure so that hundreds of SGU graduates can provide personal care from afar. The network of volunteers spans a variety of specialties, including infectious disease, pulmonology, pediatrics, cardiology, and emergency medicine.

Supplies in demand

The wide alumni network has procured hospital supplies that specifically address needs in Grenada General Hospital and other clinics. These supplies—which began arriving in late September—include much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) and oxygenation equipment, as well as pharmaceutical support such as monoclonal antibodies, antibiotics, and steroids.

The GCCG GoFundMe page has secured donations from more than 400 alumni and friends of SGU. These funds will be used to secure additional medications, supplies, and equipment to be sent to Grenada. GCCG is working closely with the Ministry of Health to monitor existing supply levels and secure fortifications as needed.

“You feel like you’re connected to a bigger thing that’s about to surround Grenada with all the love and help they can think of providing,” said Dr. Radix, a nephrologist who was born and raised in St. George and attended Anglican High School. “It’s great to be part of a group that has such an innate love for Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique.”

 

“As an infectious disease physician, I was keen to share any knowledge and experience with my colleagues in Grenada and to continue to educate the general population regarding the importance of vaccination.”

Dr. Matthias, who was raised in Belmont, St. George’s, added: “My colleagues, Dr. Friday and Dr. Radix, clearly epitomize the SGU alumni and have illuminated the spirit of Grenada national anthem—’we pledge ourselves… heads, hearts, and hands in unity…  As one people, one family.’ I’m so appreciative of the fellow alumni who have extended helping hands and made generous donations.”

Graduate contributions are part of a larger effort from the entire SGU community to provide care, spread information, and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Working with the Government of Grenada, SGU faculty members have stepped up to volunteer in the Government’s most recent initiative—hosting mobile testing and vaccination clinics throughout the island. Students have also mobilized in response to the call for help, volunteering at testing and vaccination sites hosted by the Ministry of Health.

– Brett Mauser

 

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Dr. Carina David

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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Want to Ace Your Residency Application? Get Help from SGU’s Office of Career Guidance

St. George’s University School of Medicine students preparing for residency have a valuable resource to help them on their journey—the Office of Career Guidance and Student Development. Known for short as OCG, the department assists students with tasks like USMLE prep, clinical rotation scheduling, the residency application process, and counseling in specialty and residency program selection.

“If the admissions team has decided the student has what it takes to become a physician, the OCG is there to support the student and help get them to the finish line—residency,” according to Dr. John Madden, associate dean of students and director of the OCG.

“Starting in Term 1, the OCG introduces the pathway toward residency to students—be it in the US or another country—explains the examinations needed, and focuses on the importance of learning the basic sciences to become a great clinician,” said Dr. Madden, a 1981 SGU graduate himself. “At the end of basic sciences, the OCG offers an important talk that helps students prepare for the clinical years, and then during years three and four, there is a series of talks providing up-to-date information about the next steps that must be taken to secure a residency.”

Dr. Maddens shares additional tips on how students can obtain the residency of their dreams.

St. George’s University: How does OCG support students in their journey to residency? 

Dr. Madden: All students are assigned a “primary advisor” when they start clinicals. This advisor is an SGU-faculty member who will act as a sounding board for students as they go through their clinical journey.

Students discuss with their primary advisor the specialty they are interested in, what would be considered an appropriate number of programs to apply to, and the importance of including a parallel specialty. Depending on the specialty of choice and Step scores, the number of applications will vary depending on the student.

All of this information is covered during the “OCG talks,” which are live webinars that are recorded and posted on the OCG website. They’re valuable resources for clinical students who have questions about the residency application process.

 

“The OCG is there to support the student and help get them to the finish line—residency.”

 

SGU: What are the top three qualities residency directors look for in a candidate?

Dr. Madden: Competitive Step scores, letters of recommendation, and the personal statement. However, a program director may look twice at a student showing a keen interest in a specialty. Students should consider doing more than the med school requirement rotation in that specialty, joining a student club or organization related to the specialty, and attending a local, regional, or national meeting of that specialty’s professional organization.

SGU: When do students start preparing their residency applications?

Dr. Madden: Students who are applying to US residency programs begin submitting their ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) application in mid-September of the year prior to graduation. Canada and the UK post-graduate training programs are on a different schedule and require different examinations.

SGU: What’s one thing students should prioritize during the residency application process?

Dr. Madden: The most important thing for students is getting their ERAS application submitted on time, even if there is a letter of recommendation that won’t be uploaded until October or a CK score that is delayed.

SGU: How can students ace residency interviews?

Dr. Madden: Practice, practice, practice. Even if a residency interview is virtual, you need to prepare ahead of time.

  • Use the OCG’s Interview Stream program for sample questions.
  • Look over the residency program’s website to become knowledgeable about the specific program and ask questions related to that information.
  • In addition, learn more about the program’s residency directors and assistant directors, such as their research interests so that you can speak intelligently about the topics and ask appropriate questions.

SGU: What other postgraduate opportunities are available through the School of Medicine?

Dr. Madden: SGUSOM has tuition-free programs available to enhance students’ applications next year, such as an online MPH, the MBA program, MScBR, and additional rotations. Our support staff is available to discuss these with students after the Match if a student is unmatched to determine which pathway is best suited for them.

SGU: What is the best way to contact OCG if a student has questions? 

Dr. Madden: With any questions, it is best to start with your primary advisor.  If they cannot answer your query, they’ll refer you to someone who does know. However, students can always reach out to careerguidance@sgu.edu for help.

 

 

– 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

Forbes: More med school candidates turning to Caribbean

Even though medical school applications have skyrocketed, the number of seats in US schools hasn’t kept pace. It’s led more and more qualified MD candidates to choose the Caribbean to continue their studies, this according to a recent story on Forbes.com.

“For decades, medical schools weren’t meeting the needs of an increasingly older U.S. population. Now, they’re forced to play a game of catch-up,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University.

Read more about how SGU is helping to provide a foundation for aspiring physicians to enter medicine in the United States, in the places where healthcare is needed most.

SGU welcomes two hospitals to clinical training network

The breadth of clinical training opportunities at St. George’s University just got bigger.

In the coming months, SGU students will be able to complete rotations and electives at two new hospitals—West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, IL, and Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue, NY.

The additions bring SGU’s network to more than 75 clinical centers and affiliated hospitals in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Grenada.

“Clinical training is the final step before our students graduate, and these new opportunities will only enhance their development into skillful and compassionate physicians,” said Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor of St. George’s University. “We have full faith that the doctors and healthcare staff at these institutions will help equip our students with the tools they need to be successful MDs.”

West Suburban Medical Center

At West Suburban Medical Center, SGU students will be able to do rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. It becomes the fourth clinical center or affiliated hospital based in Illinois, joining Humboldt Park Health, Loyola MacNeal Hospital, and Saint Anthony Hospital.

Long Island Community Hospital, or LICH, joins SGU’s network of more than 15 clinical training sites in New York, and the easternmost location on Long Island. SGU clinical students can currently complete electives at LICH, and core rotations will become available in the coming months.

– Brett Mauser

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