Former International Athlete Addressing COVID “Head-On” in Canada

Dan Devlin, family medicine resident, Kelowna General Hospital, BC

Aspiring physicians from Canada have long used St. George’s University School of Medicine as a springboard to a career in medicine, and for SGU graduate Daniel Devlin, MD ’19, his journey was no exception. Now a first-year family medicine resident at the Kelowna General Hospital, in rural British Columbia, Dr. Devlin serves one of the largest medical centers between Calgary and Vancouver, Canada.

Now more than ever with the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, physicians like Dr. Devlin are being called to the frontlines to help fight against the virus. His vacation plans along with him competing in his first-ever triathlon this spring and summer have all been put on hold with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

“Everyone at our hospital—from housekeeping and maintenance to nurses and physicians—has all been working very hard to face this challenge head-on,” said Dr. Devlin. “Things like vacation plans are inconsequential when you look at the bigger picture. I feel like we all got into this job to help people in need, and we will continue to do that now and for the rest of our careers.”

His path back to Canada began when he enrolled in the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University Four- and Five-Year Program, for which students spend the first year of basic sciences in the United Kingdom. He called the program “a perfect fit.”

“Since I knew I was going to be a mature student, and didn’t want to waste any time in getting started, this program allowed me to begin in January, learn a new healthcare system, enjoy smaller class sizes and most importantly get the opportunity to secure a residency position back home in Canada,” he said.

However, before Dr. Devlin began his pursuit of a career in medicine, another career path opened up for him at age 15 when he joined his high school handball team. As a gifted athlete, he then progressed to the provincial level before eventually making it all the way to the Canadian national handball team in 2007.

“As an athlete on the national team, I got the opportunity to travel all throughout Europe and South America playing in international tournaments,” said Dr. Devlin. “I even met my fiancée, Kate, who was also a professional handball player with the Women’s Canadian team at the time.

The highlight of his career was his three trips to the Pan American Games—in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2007; Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011; and Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2015. He played one year professionally in France.

Although a successful athlete, Dr. Devlin always knew he would one day become a physician. At school, he excelled in the health sciences and could be seen after school soaking up information at the hospital where his mom worked as an x-ray technician. After graduating from university, he then became a nurse for nine years before entering medical school once things started to settle down in his athletic career.

“After reaching the pinnacle of my athletic career, it just seemed like the right time to retire and so, I decided to move on to pursue my childhood dream,” said Dr. Devlin. “After doing my research and checking out their information sessions, SGU was just the right call. In terms of timing, attending SGU worked out perfectly with my schedule—allowing me to play in my final Pan-Am Games during my summer break after my first semester.”

Today, Dr. Devlin is settling into his role as a first-year resident, splitting his time between practicing at the hospital and his family medicine clinic. He is also currently working on a quality improvement project analyzing the clinic to make sure it meets the national standard of guidelines set across Canada. The scholarly project would then strive to implement any changes or make improvements found in his research.

“As an international grad, I get asked by prospective students in information sessions all the time, ‘would I do it again’?” said Dr. Devlin. “And my answer would be ‘yes’ because my goal was to come back and be a physician in Canada, and SGU helped me to do that. It was my pathway to getting to where I wanted to be.”

That place is Kelowna, where he and his colleagues are working hard—and together—to address the ongoing pandemic.

“We will get through this at some point, and we have definitely felt the love and support from the city of Kelowna as we work to keep everyone safe and healthy,” he said.

–Ray-Donna Peters

More Than 1,025 Future Physicians Secure US Residency Positions on Match Day 2020

With the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, St. George’s University students and graduates who will be called on to assist in the fight against the virus received much awaited news on Match Day 2020. On Friday, 1,027 soon-to-be physicians learned of where they will begin their residencies in the United States this summer, the news coming down from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) as the clock struck noon. The residency match number is expected to climb even higher in the coming weeks and months.

Positions were secured across a wide range of specialties—including anesthesiology, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, pathology, and many more—and spanned 43 of the United States. The newest class of residents join a proud network of SGU physicians who are making a difference in healthcare throughout hospitals around the world.

“It is especially in times like these that we, as physicians, are turned to in order to provide valuable, high-quality care in communities around the world, for individuals who desperately need it,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “With the skills and knowledge with which they have been equipped, I am confident that our students are prepared to meet this challenge head-on.”

 

 

In the place of in-person celebrations, SGU students and graduates utilized technology to celebrate Match Day with their colleagues. For Nick Mulchan, MD ’20 (expected), he and his medical school friends connected via video chat, each opening up their emails from the NRMP simultaneously to simulate SGU’s annual Match Day Luncheon in New York City, which was canceled for the safety of all attendees.

Mr. Mulchan’s excitement was evident on the call, having matched into a neurology residency at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

“It was helpful to experience it with everyone who I went to med school with,” he said. “We all looked out for each other. It was great to see and hear from everyone. A lot of us got our top choices. We all did really well and I’m so proud of everyone.”

“We all worked hard, and SGU prepared us really well,” he added. “SGU went above and beyond my expectations, which allowed us to excel.”

Mr. Mulchan was a biological engineering major at Cornell University before going on to earn a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at Columbia. He then enrolled in the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University Four-Year MD Program (formerly the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program), where he built a strong bond with his fellow students. Through studying in the United Kingdom, Grenada, and the United States, he built a strong foundation for his medical career. It set him up to go on “15 or 16” interviews, primarily in the northeast US, but he felt especially at home in NYU, citing its reputation, wealth of resources and fellowship opportunities, as well as the proximity to his roots on Long Island.

 

“A lot of us got our top choices. We all did really well and I’m so proud of everyone.”

Nick Mulchan, MD 2020

 

Another native New Yorker—Raven Crusco, MD ’20 (expected)­—will be headed south this summer, having matched into a combined pediatrics/emergency medicine residency program at University of Maryland Medical Center. It is one of fewer than 10 such positions in the entire US.

“Between the hardships, the stress, and the studying, it has been quite a journey, but it’s all been worth it,” she said. “It all paid off. I’m so happy to say that I got my first choice. I have had the program on my radar for a while. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Ms. Crusco came directly to SGU after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from Binghamton University. Early on, her affinity for pediatrics was clear, and throughout her experience in the hospitals and with the Emergency Medicine Club at SGU, she was drawn to both.

She finished her final clinical rotation earlier in the month, and she waited anxiously ever since for the residency news to arrive. That she matched into a combined residency will allow her to become board certified in both pediatrics and emergency medicine after five years.

“Going to SGU is clearly a good path to medicine, and I’m just really happy to be a part of it,” she said.

 

“It all paid off. I’m so happy to say that I got my first choice. I have had the program on my radar for a while. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Raven Crusco, MD 2020

 

Her close friend, Evan Maisel, MD ’20 (expected), will complete his intern year in internal medicine at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, NY, before going on to an anesthesiology residency at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, FL. It’s not far from where he did his undergraduate studies (University of Miami) and where his parents expect to retire.

“When you’re in the trenches during medical school, it feels like it’s going so slowly, but looking back, I feel like I blinked my eyes and it was over,” he said. “It was all worth it. I got the field and the place that I wanted, and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Mr. Maisel grew up around medicine—his dad a cardiologist on Long Island, his uncle specializing in anesthesiology. In going through his coursework and clinical training, he felt more drawn to the latter.

“I’ve always been interested in pharmacology, and I did well in it too,” he said. “When I got to my clinical years and found myself in the OR, I liked being hands-on with the patients and caring for them during a vulnerable time, as well as there being a mixture of continuity of care perioperatively with acuity of care intraoperatively.”

 

“It was all worth it. I got the field and the place that I wanted, and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Evan Maisel, MD 2020

 

The Match Day news comes three weeks after 13 St. George’s University students secured residency in Canada through the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS). For a complete list of 2020 residency appointments, visit our website.

In the US, Canada, and around the world, this year’s class of residents join the medical profession officially this summer, in a time when new doctors are especially welcome to assist. Currently, more than 10,000 St. George’s University physicians are practicing in the United States alone.

“With the number of people being impacted by the coronavirus and without knowing how long it’s going to go on, I’m thankful to be a part of the task force that’s going to help to beat this virus,” Mr. Mulchan said. “There’s more of a need now than ever.”

– Brett Mauser

St. George’s University Students Form a Line of Pride in Support of Grenada

TRUE BLUE, Grenada, March 14, 2020 — St. George’s University (SGU) has been continuing to follow the global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and has been working collaboratively with the leaders of the Government of Grenada to address the Coronavirus pandemic.

The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff and the larger Grenadian community continue to be of paramount importance to SGU. At this time, we continue to encourage students to leave the island to lessen the burden on Grenada, and a significant portion has chosen to do so. To facilitate these efforts, SGU has chartered aircrafts that have already made a number of flights to major U.S. hubs.

“The measures we are taking are in line with best practice and guidelines being encouraged by global health organizations and followed by universities throughout the world,” said Richard Liebowitz, MD, Vice Chancellor of St. George’s University. “Our goal is to ensure our students and faculty help reduce density on campus and on the island of Grenada to reduce any potential future spread of the virus and free up resources on the island for those who may need them most. Our actions were not related to any specific medical situation on the island, but to achieve the goal of lessening the spread of disease in the future.”

SGU is working collaboratively with key stakeholders in the Grenadian community, including the Ministries of Health and Education, as well as the Grenada Airport Authority to help manage the situation and facilitate a smooth process. SGU will not direct students to return to Grenada until it is safe to do so for all and will be transitioning to online learning activities for all students, including the School of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Arts and Sciences, over the next week.

While SGU continues to facilitate students, who want to leave the island, some have chosen to remain in Grenada, both on and off campus. The campus will remain operational, and SGU intends to maintain full staff pay and benefits during this pandemic. SGU is continuing to assess the situation and is actively communicating with those on campus.

SGU is also continuing to work closely with the Government of Grenada to assist with preparations for enhancing the public health infrastructure on the island.

“As in past crises, SGU stands with the people and Government of Grenada to address any challenges and provide appropriate support as we face this challenge together,” Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor of SGU, stated. “Our students lined up at the airport represent a line of pride for their medical education in Grenada and their commitment as future physicians to unburden the Grenadian health care system during this unprecedented pandemic.”

Chancellor Modica added: “We are actively in the process of assisting in procuring and providing medical equipment to the Grenada General Hospital and laboratory, as well as professional assistance to support both local needs and those of students and best prepare the island’s health care system for the potential threat.”

To date, no member of the university community has contracted COVID-19. SGU remains vigilant and will continue to coordinate with Grenada’s Ministry of Health, and our international partners.

St. George’s University Follows Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education to Stem the Spread of COVID-19

TRUE BLUE, Grenada, March 12, 2020 – St. George’s University has been closely following the global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), including its recent characterization as a pandemic as well as the potential implications it may have on our True Blue Grenada campus and the larger community in Grenada.

While at this time there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Grenada, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff and the larger Grenada community are of paramount importance to us. Our goal is to make prudent decisions that reflect our commitment to the ongoing safety of our campus community and that of the people of Grenada.

SGU has decided to encourage all international students on the Grenada campus to return home with the situation being re-evaluated by April 15. Students will only return to Grenada when it is well advisable and the global pandemic has stabilized. We will be in close coordination with the Ministry of Health regarding the timing of students’ return. Some students and faculty, both local and international, will remain in Grenada and our campus will remain open for all who continue to reside there, with full use of campus facilities. This approach is consistent with recommendations for Institutions of Higher Education from public health officials, and mirrors the actions taken by many universities around the globe to limit the density of large populations on their campuses. The plan is for only small groups to meet face to face, with appropriate social distancing, with the further development and implementation of online education to reduce the need for face to face classroom gathering.

We will continue to operate the campus in Grenada with full staffing, with no change to current employment status, pay or benefits.

These actions are taken out of concern for our students, faculty and staff and the desire to maintain public health in Grenada, in light of this rapidly changing situation. SGU is also working closely with the Government of Grenada to assist with preparations for enhancing the public health infrastructure on the island.

“As SGU has done in the past during challenging times, we will continue to stand with our Grenadian partners and the people of Grenada with support and close collaboration,” Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor of SGU, said.

Prime Minister Mitchell stated, “We appreciate the close partnership with SGU and Chancellor Modica, and want to support all efforts to lessen the risk to Grenada of COVID-19. We will continue to closely coordinate with SGU to address this issue and mitigate the impact on Grenada.”

To date, no member of the university community has contracted COVID-19. We have been working diligently with the Ministry of Health, Grenada and our international partners to consider every contingency that will allow us to limit exposure to the disease among members of the SGU and Grenadian community.

St. George’s University Students Match into Competitive Residency Programs in Canada

SGU clinical rotations

Fourteen St. George’s University students will be joining the healthcare system in Canada as physicians this summer, having matched into highly competitive residency programs through the first iteration of the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) R-1 Main Residency Match on Tuesday.

Students matched into residency programs in three Canadian provinces, in fields such as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and psychiatry. More are expected to earn residency positions in the second Canadian match iteration on April 15. The United States match will take place on March 20.

“These students follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of SGU graduates who have returned to Canada to continue their medical careers,” said Sandra Banner, SGU’s director of admissions for Canada and the former director of CaRMS. “I commend them for their aptitude in the classroom as well as in a clinical setting and am certain that their future patients will greatly benefit from their well-rounded care.”

Marissa Solow, MD ’20 (expected), said she “could not be more excited” to have secured an internal medicine residency position at the University of Toronto.

“I got exactly what I wanted,” said Ms. Solow, who grew up 10 minutes from downtown Toronto. “I had high hopes, and I couldn’t have been happier to find out that I was going back to Canada and to my top-choice program.”

She came to SGU as a non-traditional student, having sung opera professionally before setting her sights on medicine. Both of her parents are physicians, and her brother, Max, is an SGU graduate who is a first-year anesthesiology resident at the University of Minnesota.

Like her brother and many Canadian students, her medical school studies began as part of the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University Four-Year MD Program (formerly the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program), a unique educational experience in the United Kingdom that she would “recommend for anyone who was going to SGU.”

Ms. Solow felt confident going into the CaRMS match, having built her resume with a strong  international medical school experience, by participating in an array of clubs and events such as diabetes clinics and the Palliative Care Society in Grenada, and diverse clinical rotations that included a two-week elective with the clinical teaching unit at the University of Western Ontario. She is strongly considering specializing in hematology and oncology or medical oncology after residency.

Meagan Kaye, MD ’20 (expected), shares her excitement. Ms. Kaye waited anxiously for the 12pm release Tuesday and rejoiced upon learning that she had matched into the pediatrics residency program at McMaster University, a little over an hour from her hometown, Richmond Hill, ON.

In addition to its proximity to family, Ms. Kaye had completed an elective at McMaster last fall. When it came time to apply for residency, the camaraderie at McMaster made it stand out.

“It’s an amazing program and hospital,” she said. “All of the residents and faculty made me feel very welcome. Getting the results was pretty exciting. I’m thrilled to be able to go back and be with my family.”

She came to SGU after earning her Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Queen’s University in Kingston, ON. Her volunteer time and research at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto solidified her determination to pursue a career in pediatrics. Her medical studies began as a member of the SGU/NU program in the UK.

“It’s been a long journey and it’s required a lot of hard work,” she said. “I loved my time in the UK as well as in Grenada and in Brooklyn, NY for clerkships. Overall, my experience at SGU was very positive, and that I matched back to the program I really wanted to be with made everything worth it for sure.”

Emma Metivier, MD ’20 (expected), distracted herself on the morning of the match – “my apartment has never been so clean,” she said. When noon struck, she celebrated alongside her mom, having discovered she had landed a pediatrics residency position at Western University in Ontario.

“Matching in Canada was beyond my wildest dreams,” said Ms. Metivier. “It’s where I initially learned to love medicine. As a Canadian, it’s exciting for me to go to back to the Canadian healthcare system that I grew up with, and to be with many of my mentors.”

Like Ms. Kaye, the 2013 University of Guelph graduate came to SGU after volunteering and conducting research at the Sick Kids Toronto. She joined the popular Canadian Student Association (CanSA) on campus, as well as the Iota Epsilon Alpha Honor Medical Society.

For residency, Ms. Metivier interviewed throughout the United States as well as Ontario. She is excited to become a part of the Western team, working just two hours from home and in the  field she set out to join.

“Pediatrics gives you the biggest opportunity to change someone’s life for the better at the very beginning,” she said. “There is nothing better than getting to work with kids.”

The newly matched residents join the more than 140 St. George’s University students who have secured postgraduate positions in Canada over the last 10 years.

– Brett Mauser

From Orphaned Alpacas to Puppy Care: Knoxville Veterinarian Dishes on What It’s Like to Own a Vet Clinic

Leah Wulforst, DVM '05

As a companion animal veterinarian in Knoxville, TN, Leah Wulforst, DVM ’05, has seen her fair share of emotional pet owners who have been forced to make tough decisions about their pet’s health. And it’s her responsibility to assist in coming to the right conclusion.

One memorable case involved a young dog named Lexi, who was brought to Dr. Wulforst showing symptoms of a fever, decreased appetite, and discomfort in its left eye. Despite medication, Lexi’s health worsened and within 48 hours she developed glaucoma. A urine test revealed that she had blastomycosis, a type of fungal infection dogs can get from inhaling spores from the ground.

After a heartfelt discussion with the pet’s owners, Lexi’s left eye was removed, and when similar symptoms emerged in her right eye, it had to be removed as well. Lexi continued the fight against blastomycosis with the help of medication for almost a year. The owners were aware that removal of her eyes was only the first step to treatment, and there was no guarantee that she could clear the infection, but they decided to move forward, step by step.

While Lexi had a poor prognosis then and her condition required expensive medication, today she is vibrant, happy, and free of infection.

“At some point, all owners of a pet are going to have to make a difficult decision regarding the pet’s well-being,” Dr. Wulforst said. “As veterinarians, we hope that we can make these decisions easier.”

Today, Dr. Wulforst is the owner of Riverside Veterinary Clinic in Knoxville, making a name for herself in the close-knit community. Dr. Wulforst made Knoxville News Sentinel’s 40 under 40 Class of 2017; she also was featured in People magazine and a local news story when her office took in an orphaned alpaca.

She treats a variety of household pets and the occasional backyard animal including goats, chickens, and pheasants, setting aside a portion of her day for any surgical appointments or emergencies. Dr. Wulforst also works closely with several local cat and dog rescue groups.

“What I love about being a vet is seeing the client’s face when the pet gets better, how relieved they are, and how appreciative they are,” she said. “It’s that look on their face that I really enjoy.”

She added: “I also enjoy the challenge of it. [Veterinary medicine] is always evolving and I am always learning. From research to disease processes, we’re finding out so much more information from genetic testing and cancer testing. As long as you keep reading and researching, you are always going to improve.”

Dr. Wulforst opened her clinic in 2017 after she realized she wanted to set her own protocols for her patients and dictate their quality of care.

“I want to make sure I keep striving to do what’s best for the client and for the patient,” she said. “Clients want definitive answers, but sometimes that takes a lot of money or is just not possible. I want to be able to have all options placed in front of them and help them decide what’s going to work for them and their budget, and what will be the best care for their pet.”

ARE VACCINES ALWAYS THE ANSWER?

One example is household pets don’t always need annual vaccines. Some can be given every few years, based on individual exposure levels, which should be discussed with the client, she said.

“It’s very important as a puppy, for example, to get baseline vaccines that can protect them against diseases such as parvo,” she said. “But the other thing we know is that some vaccines last a lot longer than we think—in fact anything we inject into our body, like extended release antibiotics, can stimulate the immune system or create injection-site sarcomas. So, it’s important to get baseline protections and from there many times we can check titers, specifically for distemper, parvo, and even rabies, depending on state laws.”

Dr. Wulforst is also optimistic about using certain alternative medicine in vet practice, including supplements that help joint support, turmeric as an anti-inflammatory and for mild pain relief, cold laser therapy to stimulate blood circulation and help arthritis, and even specific probiotics to reduce anxiety and other behavioral disorders in pets. “I do feel there has to be evidence-based research to show proof on how it works and that it’s safe,” she said.

TO KNOXVILLE AND BACK AGAIN

After graduating SGU, Dr. Wulforst moved to the Knoxville area with her husband to start her professional career in nearby Seymour, TN. Yet in 2007, they relocated to Long Island, NY (where Dr. Wulforst grew up) to be closer to family. Seeking a slower-paced lifestyle, the couple returned to Knoxville in 2013 with their son, where she worked briefly for an area veterinarian before striking out on her own.

Dr. Wulforst hasn’t forgotten how her SGU roots helped her become the vet she is today. She was among one of the early graduating classes of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, which opened in 1999.

“I loved the change in scenery and since it was a [relatively] new program I felt like there was a lot more flexibility,” she said, referencing the program’s adaptability to course topics and tracks.

Additionally, she is very thankful for the direct mentorship and individual attention she received from faculty and hands-on learning while in Grenada. “I definitely felt the hands-on experience I got at St. George’s was so much more than I have seen from some of the students coming out of the universities in the US,” she said.

Yet being a business owner is not without its challenges. While she plans on adding another full-time veterinarian as well as a part-time vet in the next few months to accommodate her growing caseload, finding employees who are a good fit with her philosophy is the hardest part of a running a business.

“A lot of this was a learning process,” which includes being closed on the weekends, she said. “My goal is to have a good work-life balance for myself and my staff.”

–Laurie Chartorynsky

 

SGU Vet Students Secure Highly Specialized Postgrad Positions in 2020

Vet students at St. George's University

St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine students and graduates took the next step in their careers as aspiring veterinarians, matching into highly competitive postgraduate positions throughout the United States and Canada. Early 2020 reports confirm that DVM students secured 25 internships and 11 first-year residencies, with more results likely to come in throughout the spring.

This summer, SVM alums will begin postgraduate training in a variety of clinical specialty areas such as orthopedics, cardiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, immunology, diagnostic imaging, and pathology, matching into positions at veterinary hospitals such as the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, and the University of California, San Diego, as well as veterinary centers in Alberta and Saskatoon, in Canada.

“We congratulate our students who are on to the next chapter in their careers in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Throughout their basic science and clinical years, they endured a rigorous course load and absorbed a wealth of information. We are pleased that the curriculum has adequately prepared them to meet the highest of practicing standards and are delighted that their efforts have been rewarded.”

After graduating, students may obtain an internship, a one-year clinical training program used to prepare a veterinarian for high-quality service in practice, or even a residency, which is a two- to three-year program. Students must receive a passing grade on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) in order to achieve certification by any of the veterinary medical specialty boards. The 360 multiple-choice-question test is required for licensure to practice veterinary medicine in both the US and Canada. St. George’s University’s veterinary medical students posted a 95 percent pass rate on the exam in 2017-2018 according to the International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA).

“We couldn’t be prouder of our students. They’ve made it through a very strenuous program with great drive and determination,” praised Dr. Anne Corrigan, associate dean of academics in the SVM. “At St. George’s, we believe it’s important that our students have a strong foundation of knowledge, hands-on clinical skills, and confidence when they set off for their careers as veterinarians. As faculty, we believe that we have provided our students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in advanced training programs. We have the utmost respect for our students and are proud to call them our colleagues.”

Adding to its many accomplishments, St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program recently 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. The School of Veterinary Medicine is now one of the few schools in the world accredited by both the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) in the US and Canada, as well as the RCVS in the UK.

SGU’s DVM graduates are now fully eligible to seek licensure in the US and Canada without further steps other than successfully passing the NAVLE. DVM graduates who have also completed the Global Veterinary Health Track will also be eligible to register as members of the RCVS and practice in the UK without further examination.

Now in its 21st 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 also 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.

–Ray-Donna Peters

Intensivist “Dr. House” Grooms Aspiring Doctors for Future Success

Pierre Kory, critical care and pulmonary medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison, WI

Pierre Kory, MD ’02, a critical care and pulmonary medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison, WI, the academic medical center for the University of Wisconsin, is living his dream. Each day brings a new challenge, and a new opportunity to make an impact on his patients’ lives.

“What I love about my specialty is that every day is a little different and I have a wide footprint,” Dr. Kory said.

His expertise is relied on throughout the UW network. As a critical care and lung disease specialist, Dr. Kory serves as the medical director for the Trauma and Life Support Center—the main medical-surgical intensive care unit at UW—and also as the critical care service chief of the hospital’s medical intensivist service, where he sees patients who are often in critical condition due to severe, acute respiratory illnesses.

Dr. Kory also works in the University hospital’s outpatient pulmonary medicine clinic, where he diagnoses patients with acute and chronic symptoms and also manages many chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), and bronchiectasis. He attends the inpatient pulmonary consultation service, consulting with and managing patients with a variety of acute lung injuries, and also performs bronchoscopic and pleural procedures in UW’s bronchoscopy suite.

The breadth of cases in which he is involved speaks volumes about the importance of pulmonary health.

“Lungs are the most common organ that fails in the ICU and in the context of many diseases,” Dr. Kory said. “During my clinicals and in my training, I thought that the pulmonary critical care physicians were hands down the best doctors in the hospital. They were the most widely skilled, and the most knowledgeable and experienced in all facets of disease and all levels of severity to the extent that no other doctor came close. I wanted to be like them.”

USING THE MODERN STETHOSCOPE

Dr. Kory is a recognized expert in critical care ultrasonography, a tool he considers “the modern stethoscope.” He is the senior editor of the award-winning e-textbook titled, “Point of Care Ultrasound,” the first comprehensive textbook on all point-of-care ultrasound applications for health care providers. Now in its second edition, the textbook was selected for the British Medical Association’s 2015 President’s Choice award for medical textbooks. He is also a former director of the advanced courses on critical care ultrasonography sponsored by the American College of Chest Physicians.

“In my opinion, the best doctors are by definition the best diagnosticians because no treatment works unless you get the diagnosis right,” Dr. Kory said. “Good doctors listen hard to what patients are saying and are meticulous and thoughtful in their consideration and evaluation of the causes of any problem being presented to them.”

He added: “When I have really sick patients, it’s really important to assess compromised organs and try to figure out why someone is deteriorating or dying in front of me. With modern technology, we have immediate access to compact and mobile machines that produce high-quality ultrasound images of critical internal organs. This allows us to identify life-threatening abnormalities in seconds at the bedside.”

A REAL-LIFE DR. HOUSE

Dr. Kory’s favorite aspect of his career is teaching both aspiring and junior physicians. UW Health is considered a teaching hospital and Dr. Kory can often be seen with medical students, residents, and fellows in the ICU as he sees patients. He has won multiple department and hospital teaching awards.

“I love the enthusiasm of young doctors,” he said. “I consider everything a teaching moment, and I try to share my experiences accumulated over years spent in a multitude of clinical situations and emergencies. As I round on service, there are usually eight to 10 people following me of varying disciplines and seniority. I am like ‘Dr. House’ followed by a large group of ducklings.”

 

“The best doctors are by definition the best diagnosticians because no treatment works unless you get the diagnosis right.”

Pierry Kory, MD

 

Dr. Anthony Saleh, a 1985 SGU graduate, is the program director of pulmonary/critical care fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. He oversaw Dr. Kory during clinical rotations and keeps in contact with him to this day.

“Dr. Kory is brilliant, he has an incredible mind, and he is passionate.” Dr. Saleh said. “He really cares about his patients and about those he is educating, and he does everything at the highest level. Take those things—that’s plenty—but what he’s done for ICU sonography, he has literally become the go-to person probably in the country on critical care sonography.”

Added Dr. Saleh: “Pulmonary/critical care is an all-encompassing specialty. Dr. Kory is able to assimilate vast amounts of data and integrate it into patient care. ICU physicians have to communicate with multiple subspecialists, and Dr. Kory seamlessly does this, relentlessly pursuing optimal patient outcomes.”

MATCHMAKING THROUGH SGU

Since his days at St. George’s University, Dr. Kory reflected on the opportunity he received through the school, noting that his greatest achievement was meeting his wife, fellow graduate Dr. Amy Malik, while both were at Weill Cornell School of Medicine in New York City—he in his clinical rotations while she was a resident.

“We were the same age, despite her being ahead of me in her training, and we just hit it off,” he said. “The most courageous act I have ever done was asking out a third-year medical resident while I was a fourth-year medical student.”

While Dr. Kory was born and raised in New York City, Dr. Malik is from Wisconsin. And while both doctors are pulmonary and critical care specialists, Dr. Malik focuses more on pulmonary disease where she is an expert in diagnosing and managing patients with interstitial lung disease. They married in 2003 and have three daughters together—Ella, Eve, and Violet. After both completed their residencies, fellowships, and junior faculty careers at hospitals in New York City, they moved their family to Madison, WI, when both were recruited by the University of Wisconsin.

“It’s great to be married to another doctor in the same challenging specialty,” Dr. Kory said. “We both know what we go through; we get to share a lot of our experiences each day; and because we intimately know what each other does, it becomes a stimulating conversation with the person whom you love most. We get to go home to each other and share our successes, our failures, and our challenges, and it’s nice to be able to do that.”

–Laurie Chartorynsky

SGU Sim Lab Director Receives Prestigious Spice Isle Award

Samantha Dickson, SGU SIM Lab coordinator

For St. George’s University faculty member Samantha Dickson, touching and saving lives has been a lifelong mission. From the age of 17, she has been a teacher, a youth volunteer, an advisor, and a leader in Grenada, and is the first female to have been elected president of the Grenada Red Cross Society (GRCS).

For her contribution of more than 30 years to Grenada’s public service, Ms. Dickson was recently awarded the 2020 Spice Isle Award by the Government of Grenada. She, along with the other awardees, was acknowledged at the 46th Anniversary of Independence Celebrations at Grenada’s National Stadium prior to receiving her award at an official ceremony held at the Governor General’s Residence on February 20.

“I am deeply humbled to have been awarded this honor,” said Ms. Dickson, the coordinator of SGU’s simulation center as well as the American Heart Association (AHA) International Training Center. “Most of all, I am thankful to my family for supporting me because I had to sacrifice spending time with them in order to help others. I am also grateful to the Red Cross because this is where it all started for me. It’s amazing to think that initially I wasn’t sure this was something I would want to do, but after attending that first two-day workshop on how to educate young teachers to become leaders in 1988, that was it; I was converted into a lifelong member of this organization.”

In 1988, she joined the public service of Grenada as a teacher, becoming a youth volunteer and leader of the GRCS a year later. After serving in numerous advisory roles throughout the years, including as a member of the Health Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), today she serves as the organization’s president.

“I’ve always had a calling to make a difference and to save lives,” said Ms. Dickson. “I went into teaching because it gave me an opportunity to have a huge impact on shaping and molding the lives of our nation’s children. Even as a 17-year-old teacher to 16-year-old students, I still felt like I was able to change their lives.”

Established in 2007, the National Honours and Awards Act No. 32 allows for the granting of awards to citizens of Grenada and other persons for distinguished, outstanding, or meritorious services or achievements, or for gallantry and related matters. The Spice Isle Award in particular is awarded to any person who has rendered truly emulative service in any field of human endeavor or for other humane action.

Ms. Dickson has dedicated her life to humanitarian services and has travelled to more than 45 countries experiencing, teaching, and learning. She has served as a teacher, guidance counselor, health director of the Red Cross, and deputy/acting national disaster coordinator of the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA).

“After 30 years of service to my country, I have made lifelong friends,” stated Ms. Dickson. “I have touched many lives and have loved the opportunity to be of service and give back to others. In the future, I plan to continue being a role model and mentor, especially to young women, and to set the path to encourage others so that when I can no longer be of service someone else can pick up the mantle and continue on doing an even better job than I did.”

Additionally, Ms. Dickson has functioned as the deputy of operations for the response and recovery to Hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005. During these operations, she managed the British Housing Recovery Project—rebuilding homes and recovering livelihoods. She has managed the Caribbean Tripartite Agreement—a regional First Aid project between Grenada, Trinidad and Belize—as well as the UNICEF/Grenada Red Cross component of the “Return to Happiness” a psychosocial program, reaching 10,000 children ages 6 to 12 within the span of six months.

In 2005, she had the honor of meeting Queen Sofia of Spain to receive an award on behalf of the outstanding work of the Grenada Red Cross volunteers.

Ms. Dickson is currently completing a master’s degree in emergency services administration at California State University, Long Beach. She continues to participate in numerous humanitarian initiatives including as a member of the coordination group for the Global Network for Women Leaders in the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement (GLOW Red) and as one of only five doping control officers in Grenada for the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization (Caribbean RADO).

–Ray-Donna Peters

SGU Welcomes Back Familiar Faces at Beyond Spice Family Weekend

SGU Family Weekend - January 2020

When Alex Gantz found out her husband, Benjamin, was accepted to St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, she was thrilled. Even though she was pregnant with their youngest child at the time and would be leaving their New Hampshire home for the move to Grenada, she was still excited about joining her husband on his new journey to becoming a veterinarian.

“Like most of us in the veterinary medical profession, I wanted to become a vet since I was a child,” shared Mr. Gantz, a Term 3 SVM student. “Then life happened. I got married and had two kids. But as I got older and wiser, I decided to go for it. Now I’m in my second year in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. I’m thankful to SGU for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream.”

This year the couple was joined once again by his parents, who made SGU’s Beyond Spice Family Weekend their family getaway for the second year in a row.

“At first, it took a little getting used to a new country and culture,” said Ms. Gantz. “But now we love it here and so do Ben’s parents. They’ve had so much fun on the sea excursion and at the sunset barbecue that they just keep coming back. For them, family vacation means SGU’s Family Weekend.”

The Gantz family weren’t the only repeat visitors this year. The University also welcomed much of its alumni, coming back and bringing with them many additions to the incoming class. Francis Rienzo, MD ’88, and his brother, Peter Rienzo, MD ’85, returned to coat their children, Emily and Jake Rienzo, at the Spring 2020 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony, as did Abayomi Odubela, MD ’83, who also shared in that honor by coating his daughter, Ibironke. Altogether, this spring’s incoming SOM and SVM class welcomed backed five SGU graduates, including members of the Class of 1983, 1985, and 1988 to join in the special privilege of coating their children.

Now celebrating its 12th year since the inception of Family Weekend, SGU continually looks forward to opening its doors to host students’ families who’ve come to visit the country and campus that their students now call home. The bi-annual festivities include guided campus tours; the historical sightseeing tour of Fort Frederick, the famous Grand Etang Lake, and the 30-foot Annandale Waterfalls; and lunch at Belmont Estate, a fully functional and historic plantation, among other activities.

“Family Weekend serves as more than an occasion to bring families together; it is a chance to celebrate the University’s growth and success by now welcoming the children of our graduates to continue their legacy,” stated Colin Dowe, associate dean of admissions. “Additionally, our goal is to also provide an atmosphere where our visitors can explore all that the University and Grenada have to offer and be converted into lifelong visitors to our beautiful tri-island state.”

Family Weekend Fall 2020 is set for August 26- 30. Learn more about the festivities by visiting the Family Weekend webpage or by emailing familyweekend@sgu.edu.

–Ray-Donna Peters