Alumni Association CME Welcomes Back Experts in Art of Medicine

St. George’s University School of Medicine students present research posters during an alumni association continuing ed conference.

Physicians are seen as experts in “the science” of medicine, but being an expert in “the art” of medicine is of equal importance. This art is the therapeutic and caring relationships that physicians build with their patients, which aids science in effecting a cure for illness and suffering. This spring’s School of Medicine Alumni Association (SOMAA) continuing medical education conference in Grenada examined medicine as a scientific study and its practice as an art. The four-day conference, titled “The Art of Medicine,” was held for the third time in association with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). It featured more than 50 prominent SOM alumni, including local faculty presenters discussing a wide variety of topics across the medical landscape.

“With the size and quality of the conference growing each year, so does its value increase to both our alumni and current SGU students,” said SOMAA President Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83. “In addition to the alumni acquiring CME credits, the students benefit from alumni who are some of the top specialists in their fields. They can ask us the important questions about their medical careers going forward, allowing us the opportunity to share our insight about the rigors of this profession.

“Overall, the conference provides a time to learn, to enjoy Grenada, and give back to the island,” added Dr. Bonanno.

Daniel Herr, MD ’81, an associate professor at St. George’s University and chief of critical care services at University of Maryland Medical Center, also returned to the island he once called home. As a recognized expert in the field of critical care, Dr. Herr is often invited to speak at medical conferences on topics concerning novel/new treatments and therapies for crucially ill patients.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for Grenada and SGU, for giving me the opportunity to become a doctor,” stated Dr. Herr. “I want to be involved and to come back to the island in order reconnect with the place that has given me so much. With more than 20,000 graduates across all schools, our goal is to get as many of us as possible to return and congregate to help present-day students.”

Additionally, the SOMAA provided plenty of opportunities for attendees to soak up some sand, sea, and fun while relaxing on island. The group enjoyed a sightseeing tour of Grenada’s natural beauty; lunch at Belmont Estate, a fully functional and historic plantation; a shopping tour of Grenada’s capital, St. George’s; a Catamaran VIP day cruise including snorkeling and a visit to the Underwater Sculpture Park and Hog Island; and a closing sunset dinner at Louis and Marion Modica Hall.

“The power of CME is that we bring physicians from all over the United States together to listen, learn, and reconnect with each other and St. George’s University—bringing them back to their roots,” said Robert Alig, the newly appointed vice president of alumni affairs, at St. George’s University. “SGU is the foundation for their careers as physicians, so bringing our alumni back to campus affords a unique opportunity for them to interact with current students; and I see the enthusiasm in the students as the alumni connect with them, giving everyone optimism for the continued success of the University.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

Dreams Fulfilled on 2019 Match Day

 

On Match Day 2019, St. George’s University students and graduates once again demonstrated their aptitude and excellence, with more than 890 securing first-year residency positions in the United States. The numbers are expected to climb in the coming weeks.

Students matched into highly competitive positions in such fields as anesthesiology, child neurology, diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/emergency medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pathology, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, surgery, urology, vascular surgery. They will join residency programs in 42 US states and the District of Columbia this summer.

“We couldn’t be prouder of those who are on to the next chapter in their careers,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “Each and every student showed great dedication and perseverance in order to clear each hurdle in their journey, and we’re delighted to see that they’ve been rewarded for their efforts.”

 

Scores of students gathered at SGU’s Match Day Luncheons in New York City and Miami, collectively celebrating as the match results were revealed by the National Resident Matching Service. Gaelle Antoine, MD ’19 (expected), described matching into her number one choice – the anesthesiology program at Brown University—as “surreal.”

“I’m still processing that my dream actually came true,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. All the sleepless nights and the ups and downs, that I matched at Brown made it totally worth it.”

Ms. Antoine was raised in Haiti before earning her bachelor’s degree at Brooklyn College. When considering options for medical school, she seized the opportunity to enroll at SGU.

“I made such long-lasting friends in Grenada, and met some amazing professors, mentors, and faculty members,” she said. “As much as I want to say that I did a lot of it, SGU really played a big part of my success. The education was tailored for me to make it to the top, which is where I am right now.”

She now joins a diverse residency program that “represents America as well as the best of the population in medicine.”

Al Lore, MD ’19 (expected), will join the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Beaumont Health in Dearborn, MI. As an SGU student, he appreciated the camaraderie among his medical school brethren in Grenada, and felt a similar tight-knit community at Beaumont.

“When I went to interview, as soon as I walked into the department, everyone was so welcoming,” he said. “It felt like such a great working environment to work in for the next four years of my life.”

Like other Class of 2019 members, Mr. Lore waited anxiously for the news to arrive on Match Day. It proved to be well worth the wait.

“This whole week, I was like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Christmas Day to come,” he said. “You can’t wait for it to arrive, and then when that moment hits, it’s just an incredible feeling.”

Adam Lane, MD ’19 (expected), will begin residency with the internal medicine program at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell/Mather before going on to a diagnostic radiology residency at Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ. Even for someone who describes himself as “laid-back,” Match Week made for an anxious time. He was thrilled to discover that he’d go into Atlantic Health’s program at Morristown.

Mr. Lane feels that his inquisitive nature is a natural fit with the field, and he’s also looking forward to serving the departments throughout the hospital.

“Some people think you just sit in the dark looking at imaging, but it’s so much more than that,” he said. “You have to have great communication skills. Every single specialty relies on radiology to provide critical insight so that they can better direct their clinical decisions, so you have to be able to communicate effectively. I’m just so excited to get started.”

While some had never visited Grenada prior to medical school, it had long been a second home for Anna Stransky, MD ’19 (expected). Her father, Martin Stransky, graduated from SGU in 1983 before going on a long and successful career in neurology. Anna had first visited there while her father was still a student, and many times over while growing up in Connecticut.

Her own SGU experience has catapulted her to an internal medicine residency position at Stamford Hospital in the aptly named Nutmeg State. It was her top choice.

“The road was long and sometimes bumpy, but I’m very happy to finally have the chance to be a practicing physician,” she said.

Ms. Stransky pointed to her support system as part of the reason for her success. That includes the friends she made on the island.

“SGU started as a ‘mom and pop’ organization, and there remains a very family-oriented vibe around it,” she said. “From day one, everyone is looking out for you. If you ask for help from students or faculty, there’s certainly support there for you.”

 

“The education was tailored for me to make it to the top, which is where I am right now.”

Gaelle Antoine, Year 4 MD Student

 

Like Ms. Stransky, Muaaz Masood, MD ’19 (expected), is headed home. He grew up outside Atlanta, and will begin his internal medicine residency at the Medical College of Georgia this summer.

“Home is a special place for me,” he said. “I felt that especially so at MCG, which solidified that this was going to be the right place for me the next three years.”

Mr. Masood was able to spend time in Georgia, having rotated at DeKalb Medical Center, one of SGU’s 70-plus clinical affiliates. He also took advantage of the expansive network of hospitals at which SGU students rotate, having trained in New York, Florida, and California as well. His travels took him well away from where he’d end up, but also gave him great perspective.

“It was a long journey, but it was 100 percent worth it,” Mr. Masood said. “This was proof of that. My dream came to life.”

The Match Day news came just two weeks after 16 SGU students secured first-year residency positions in Canada through the Canadian Resident Match Service. For the complete list of 2019 residency appointments and a broad view of SGU’s track record of placing doctors in the US workforce, visit the SGU Graduate Success page.

– Brett Mauser

US Ambassador to Eastern Caribbean Visits Grenada to Discuss Community Outreach, Women’s Empowerment

Senior officials from the US State Department visit St. George’s University to speak with student leaders about community outreach and women’s empowerment. Discussions were led by US Ambassador Linda Taglialatela, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie Chung, Caribbean Affairs Director Katherine Dueholm, Deputy Political Economic Counselor Rachel Meyers, and Principal Officer Stephen Frahm.

Community outreach and women’s empowerment were at the forefront as St. George’s University’s student organization leaders welcomed senior officials from the United States to campus on March 8. Among the distinguished guests were Linda Taglialatela, US Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, and Julie Chung, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and other senior US State Department officials.

Representatives from groups such as the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, the Student American Veterinary Medical Association, and Women in Medicine shared their many contributions to the island, from the well-attended One Health One Medicine health fairs to a 5K road race that supports breast cancer awareness.

Since the visit coincided with International Women’s Day, students took the opportunity to seek advice on balancing gender inequality in the workplace, and in the State Department in particular. Both Ambassador Taglialatela and PDAS Chung shared some of their own experiences as women in the workplace dealing with gender inequality. Each encouraged students to be prepared for any situation or discussion, and when in a position of power, to assist other women in making the climb upward.

The visit ended with a tour of the True Blue campus and PDAS Chung expressing the hope that this visit would reaffirm the United States’ commitment to forging stronger bonds with Grenada and other Eastern Caribbean countries.

SGU Students Register 96 Percent First-Time Pass Rate on USMLE 1 in 2018

The more than 1,200 St. George’s University medical students who took the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 for the first time in 2018 registered a 96 percent pass rate, marking the eighth consecutive year that SGU’s overall pass rate reached or eclipsed 95 percent.

Those sitting for the exam posted a mean score of 224, especially impressive considering they hailed from 49 countries across five continents. Canadian first-time test takers posted a 99 percent pass rate and mean score of 230.

Designed to measure basic science knowledge, the USMLE Step 1 is comprised of more than 300 multiple-choice questions on topics ranging from the biology of cells and human development to the central nervous, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems, among others. A passing score on all three parts of the USMLE is required to practice medicine in the United States.

Sixteen SGU Graduates Secure Residency Positions in Canada Through CaRMS Match

Aspiring physicians from Canada have long used St. George’s University School of Medicine as a springboard to a career in medicine, and that much was evident this month as 16 SGU students and graduates obtained first-year residency positions through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS).

This summer, SGU alums will begin postgraduate training in fields such as anatomy and pathology, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry, matching into positions at hospitals in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan. Since 2010, more than 140 SGU graduates have earned residency positions in Canada.

“We are delighted that our physician graduates continue to bolster the Canadian healthcare system,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “Canada is in need of great doctors across all provinces and specialties, and we wholeheartedly believe that SGU graduates fit that mold.”

 

“I’m so grateful and happy to be going to Ottawa.”

Vanessa Lauzon, Year 4 MD Student

 

It was an exhilarating day for SGU students who are amid their fourth-year clinical training in the United States and Canada. After completing rounds in New York City, Vanessa Lauzon, MD ’19 (expected), waited anxiously with two colleagues as noon approached. She felt confident in her chance to match in Canada, having scored well on Canadian board exams and received numerous residency interviews countrywide.

Ms. Lauzon rejoiced upon learning she had matched at her top-choice institution—the family medicine residency program at the University of Ottawa, just 50 minutes from Montebello, QC, where she grew up.

“It was very nerve-wracking all morning, but then when I saw that I was going home, I cried and immediately called my family,” she said. “It’s life-changing. I can go back to Canada and start to build my life there.”

In addition to proximity to her family, Ms. Lauzon appreciated that the program is bilingual, allowing her to speak her native French, its opportunities for global health, its 1:1 physician/resident ratio, and 25 multidisciplinary sites at which residents’ opportunities to medicine run the full gamut.

The variety mirrors her St. George’s University experience. A graduate of McGill University’s nursing program, Ms. Lauzon opted to join SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program , for which students spend the first year of basic sciences at Northumbria University in the UK. Her studies then took her to Grenada, the United States, and Canada, having completed electives in Vancouver, BC; Sudbury, ON; and Montreal, QC.

She is enthused about the career that awaits her in Ottawa, including the opportunity for fellowship after residency. “I’m so grateful and happy to be going to Ottawa,” she said.

 

“SGU got me exactly where I wanted to be—my number one choice.”

Ryan Toews, Year 4 MD Student

 

On the day of the match, Ryan Toews, MD ’19 (expected) worked a 6am – 2pm emergency medicine shift at Ascension St. John’s Hospital in Detroit, MI, on the day of the match, meaning he waited more than two hours to find out where he was headed.

“It was perfect because it kept me busy,” Mr. Toews said. “I didn’t want to check at work because, no matter the result, I didn’t want it to affect patient care.”

The wait proved to be worth it. Mr. Toews was thrilled to discover he had matched into the family medicine residency program at the University of Saskatchewan’s site in Swift Current. He’ll practice just two hours from his hometown of Medicine Hat, AB.

After earning his nursing degree from the University of Calgary, Mr. Toews had applied twice to Canadian medical schools. Instead of delaying his dream further, he applied to and enrolled in SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, where he appreciated the small class sizes and introduction to the UK healthcare system. In addition to a strong basic sciences knowledge gained in the UK and Grenada, he prospered during two years of clinical training at St. John’s, an experience he called “superb.”

Now he’ll use the knowledge and skills he gained to treat citizens in and around Swift Current.

“SGU got me exactly where I wanted to be—my number one choice,” he said. “Even if I’d gone to medical school in Canada, I’d have picked Swift Current as my number one.”

 

“To end up exactly where I’d hoped to be is almost surreal. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Etai Shachar, Year 4 MD Student

 

Mr. Toews worked side by side with Etai Shachar, MD ’19 (expected), for much of his time in Detroit, although on the day of the CaRMS match, Mr. Shachar was in Toronto for an emergency medicine elective. As it turned out, that’s where he’ll continue his medical career as he matched into the University of Toronto’s EM program.

When he began his medical school journey, he hoped it would unfold just as it did.

“U of T has been my number one choice for quite some time,” Mr. Shachar said. “To end up exactly where I’d hoped to be is almost surreal. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Born and raised in Toronto, he double-majored in biology and medical sciences at the University of Western Ontario before obtaining his master’s degree in biotechnology at the University of Guelph. He chose to attend SGU because of its track record for student success in the US and Canada, and after hearing positive reviews from family friends who had graduated from SGU and are now practicing in New Jersey.

After two years in Grenada, Mr. Schachar strengthened his critical care resume with rotations in New York City and Detroit, which he said set him up well for Canadian residency interviews.

“As a student, I made sure to take advantage of the spectrum of hospitals that SGU has access to,” he said. “I really appreciated the diversity of cases that I saw, and learned to love and thrive on the energy and pace of the ER.”

The CaRMS match came two weeks ahead of the United States match, which takes place on Friday, March 15. In 2018, SGU students and graduates obtained a record number of residency positions, with 941 secured in the US alone. Visit our 2019 residency listing page for a complete list of SGU physicians who will begin their residencies this summer.

– Brett Mauser

St. George’s University, Jersey Shore University Medical Center Award CityDoctors Scholarship

Today, St. George’s University School of Medicine announced that it will award Interlaken, NJ resident Jake W. Schuler a 2019 CityDoctors scholarship on behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

“We’re excited to provide this scholarship to Jake,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “It’s a priority for us at St. George’s to make medical school accessible and affordable to aspiring doctors from a variety of backgrounds who are intent on returning home to New Jersey to practice.”

Mr. Schuler is the first recipient of a CityDoctors scholarship through SGU’s partnership with Jersey Shore University Medical Center. The scholarship will cover four years of tuition.

Priority consideration for the Jersey Shore University Medical Center CityDoctors scholarship is given to applicants who are from Monmouth or Ocean County or are affiliated with the Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Veterans, those with demonstrated financial need, and those from groups underrepresented in medicine also receive priority.

“This new scholarship program allows us to grow our academic programs and help area residents, perhaps even the children of our team members, pursue their dreams of becoming doctors,” says David Kountz, MD, MBA, FACP, vice president for academic affairs at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and co-chief academic officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “We’re thrilled to support Jake’s journey. While there is no commitment for students like Jake to return to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for their residency, we are hopeful they will want to return ‘home’ when they complete their studies.”

Other partners in the CityDoctors Scholarship Program include NYC Health + Hospitals and Hackensack University Medical Center.

St. George’s University is one of the leading providers of doctors to New Jersey—and the third-largest source of licensed physicians for the entire United States. In 2018 alone, more than 110 St. George’s University graduates began postgraduate residencies in New Jersey.

St. George’s University Signs Memorandum of Understanding with ARCH Education, Hong Kong

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

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

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

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland

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

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

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

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

Hyperbaric Medicine Selective Students Come to the Rescue of Ill Grenadian Fisherman

Each May and December, immediately following final examinations, first- and second-year students at St. George’s University School of Medicine can participate in a pair of Grenada-based selectives in hyperbaric medicine. In addition to intense study of the theoretical underpinnings of hyperbaric therapeutics, students gain practical experience, with a focus on chronic wounds associated with diabetes.

Late in 2018, however, the participants faced an even more dramatic challenge.

During a routine training session for the hyperbaric students at St. Augustine’s Medical Services (SAMS), a Grenadian fisherman showed hemiparalysis and urinary retention. Confronted with decompression sickness-related dysfunction of the brain and spinal cord, the students confidently and professionally rose to the occasion. Over approximately seven hours of supervised effort, they successfully deployed their fresh knowledge and skills, sparing their patient from a lifetime of profound disability.

When completed in succession, the selectives constitute a course that is approved by the American College of Hyperbaric Medicine (ACHM) for progression toward the professional credential of Certified Hyperbaric Technician (CHT).

“The students did a fantastic job. Enabling achievement is part of what the course was designed to do. So, to see this objective met is extremely gratifying,” said Dr. Duncan Kirkby, the course’s director and professor of neuroscience at SGU. “The students expressed genuine concern for the well-being of the patient. They were respectful, professional and highly motivated to achieve the best possible outcome.”

Dr. Kirkby worked with Lutz “Joe” Amechi, MD ’93, the medical director at SAMS, to bring hyperbaric medicine to Grenada in 2017. Previously, the nearest chamber to treat diving-related injuries resided in Barbados. The installation of the chamber at SAMS facilitated the development of the selectives, which supplement the preclinical education that medical students receive at SGU.

“There are two major expectations of participants in the selectives,” Dr. Kirkby said. “First, they rapidly develop a fledgling body of team-based practical experience that is steeped in the care of Grenadians. Second, because hyperbaric technologies are applicable to a broad and growing array of clinical conditions and disciplines, participants are expected to gain an experiential advantage in the pursuit of residencies.”

Dr. Tyler Sexton, who studied under Dr. Kirkby, supplied Grenada’s hyperbaric chamber and is the primary instructor for the selectives. He is also a visiting professor at SGU and the CEO and medical director of Caribbean Hyperbaric Medicine.

“There are over a dozen varied indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Applicable disciplines include but are not limited to emergency medicine, reconstructive surgery, internal medicine, aerospace medicine, and trauma surgery,” Dr. Sexton said. “It has been my honor to join Drs. Amechi and Kirkby in bringing hyperbaric care to Grenada and promoting the professional, scholarly and personal development of the students of SGU.”

Dr. Lutz “Joe” Amechi, MD ’93, resident physician and managing director of St. Augustine’s Medical Services (SAMS), introduced the nation’s first hyperbaric chamber and a 64 slice CT machine in 2017. St. George’s University is partnering with SAMS to provide medical students with a clinical selective in hyperbaric medicine.

New NIH Grant Puts Focus on Zika Virus’ Effect on Child Neurodevelopment

The WINDREF building on SGU’s True Blue Campus

Three years after the Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic swept through Grenada and the region, St. George’s University faculty members have secured a two-year grant from the US-based Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to examine the effectiveness of a community intervention program aimed at improving neurodevelopment in Grenadian children exposed to the virus.

The new NIH-funded study will be administered by the non-profit Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), which is based on the SGU campus in Grenada. Dr. Randall Waechter joins three other SGU faculty members—Drs. Barbara Landon, Karen Blackmon, and Trevor Noël—on a research team that also includes Dr. Michelle Fernandes, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Paediatrics, Southampton University, and Honorary Research Fellow at Oxford University.

“This work could have a significant impact on the way we address neuropsychological impairment in children exposed to the Zika virus,” Dr. Waechter said. “If effective, there is no reason this intervention couldn’t be implemented in other countries impacted by the Zika virus.”

One of the most significant consequences of the ZIKV epidemic is the increased risk of adverse neurological developments in the children of ZIKV-infected mothers. These children, who are now 2 and 3 years old, are at high risk for chronic epilepsy as well as intellectual and learning disabilities. This study will provide valuable data on whether a culturally adapted and evidence-based project called Environmental Enrichment can rescue neurodevelopmental outcomes in toddlers who were exposed to ZIKV.

The research also presents a novel approach to assisting these children that may be applicable worldwide. It augments the ongoing Saving Brains Grenada program in Grenada, work that was funded by Grand Challenges Canada. The program has enabled community workers to interact with caregivers and their children, helping parents implement enjoyable Conscious Discipline-based ‘brain smart’ methods that foster neurodevelopment in young children. These methods focus on elements of child-raising such safety, attachment, and self regulation, in addition to early childhood stimulation. The Saving Brains Grenada team has been supported by Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Landon called the new NIH study a “natural fit” for the Saving Brains Grenada initiative.

“Our primary goal is to maximize brain development in children,” she said, “giving them the best chance for success across their entire lives.”