Mini Medical School Inspires Future Grenadian Doctors

 

As part of its mission of diversifying the face of medicine, St. George’s University chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) hosted a mini medical school for students from Westmorland Secondary School (WSS) in hopes of sparking their interest in becoming Grenada’s future physicians.

SNMA members set up interactive medical stations that allowed the 22 high schoolers to receive hands-on lessons such as listening to a person’s heartbeat and lungs, identifying signs of anemia, and learning to take a patient’s pulse rate. WSS students also enjoyed the physical education station, where they participated in a relay race promoting physical fitness.

“Our students always enjoy learning outside of a classroom setting,” said Mr. Frankie Noel, chemistry teacher and lab technician at WSS. “Sharing in the mini med school experience and hearing directly from SGU medical students what it’s like becoming a doctor has definitely convinced many of our students to strive to become physicians at St. George’s.”

Along with a presentation on sickle cell disease and diabetes, two common conditions affecting many Grenadians, the visiting students learned about the different components of the blood, how to perform CPR, and how to conduct mini objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE). At the end of the day, the young visitors took part in a mini-graduation ceremony and were treated to taking photos while dressed in the white coats of the SNMA members.

“One of the primary purposes of SNMA is to serve the health needs of underserved communities and communities of color,” stated fifth-term medical student Michelle Adibe, who serves as president of SNMA. “Through our outreach and education programs like the mini med school program, we give students of our host country a chance to feel what it’s like to be a doctor for a day. We hope that by exposing them to medicine as an occupation we can show them that it is possible and that we’re rooting for them.”

SNMA chapters based at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the US are committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians. In addition, SNMA serves as a credible and accurate source of information relevant to minority issues in the field of medical education.

– Ray-Donna Peters

The Gold Standard of Care: AAHA Re-Accredits SGU’s Small Animal Clinic Through 2022

Satisfying approximately 900 standards of excellence set by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the Small Animal Clinic (SAC) at St. George’s University has been accredited by the AAHA through 2022, having earned the full three-year term for re-accreditation.

SAC Director Dr. Wayne Sylvester, DVM ’04, and his team were notified of the re-accreditation following the AAHA’s site visit in January, during which the clinic was evaluated on standards such as patient care, surgery, exam facilities, medical records, laboratory facilities, emergency services, dental care, diagnostic imaging, anesthesiology, pharmacy, and continuing education.

“This successful re-accrediitation site visit brought immense joy to our team,” Dr. Sylvester said. “We achieved this important accomplishment through the commitment and collaborative efforts of the team at the Small Animal Clinic, our consultants, the members of the Small Animal Clinic Board and Dr. Neil Olson, the SVM Dean, and his Office.”

AAHA accreditation confirms that the SAC compares favorably with some of the best facilities in North America. According to the AAHA, between 12 and 15 percent of all veterinary practices in the United States and Canada are accredited.

“AAHA re-accreditation is a significant milestone as it reflects the excellence in quality of care being provided at the Small Animal Clinic,” added Mellisa Walters, practice manager of the Small Animal Clinic. “Our team is elated.”

Led by Dr. Sylvester and Ms. Walters, the SAC operates seven days a week with 10 clinicians, 13 technicians, and five full-time staff members. The SAC initially received AAHA accreditation in October 2016, and immediately afterward, the SAC staff began to build on the services it already provided in preparation for the January 2019 site visit.

“All of the sections of our practice made significant improvements, we were able to use our previous experience as a foundation on which to build,” Dr. Sylvester said. “Accreditation ascertains the SAC as a leading veterinary facility. It’s a seal of approval that our standard of care is at high level. We will, however, continually seek to continually improve our standards.”

– Brett Mauser

Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall Receive Marine Biology Lesson in Grenada

Outdoor classrooms aren’t unusual for Dr. Clare Morrall (above), but in April, the St. George’s University professor of biology, ecology, and conservation shared her knowledge with a pair of special pupils—the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

During their royal tour of the Caribbean, Prince Charles and Camilla attended Grenada’s Blue Economy Exhibition, one of the more than 50 engagements on their 10-island trip. As the final event on their Grenada itinerary, the exhibition showcased the country’s role in piloting sustainable blue growth and innovative solutions for small island states.

His Royal Highness spent time at the Ocean Spirits display, Grenada’s longstanding turtle conservation organization, which presented a summary of its almost 20-year research results. The display also included a poster update on the sargassum situation in Grenada assembled by Dr. Morrall and research student Michelle Taylor.

“I had the opportunity to talk with Prince Charles about marine turtles in Grenada and also the issue of sargassum on Caribbean beaches,” said Dr. Morrall, president, Ocean Spirits Inc. “I showed him a metal flipper tag that Ocean Spirits uses with leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles and shared the story of a leatherback turtle that was satellite tagged in Canadian waters that recently returned to Grenada and nested on the east coast.”

Ocean Spirits Inc., is a nonprofit organization that relies entirely on volunteers, grants, and donations to successfully carry out its work. It uses its funding for research (currently the longest running sea turtle survey in Grenada), community outreach (training local staff in research and conservation), educational programs, summer camps, field trips, and school presentations.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Canadian Delegation Visits SGU to Discuss Doctors Returning Home

St. George’s University recently welcomed a delegation of Canadian senators along with Dr. Salvatore Spadafora, vice dean of post-MD education at the University of Toronto, to meet with Canadian students to discuss their views on training abroad and their intention to return home upon completion of their studies.

The Canadian guests spent four days visiting with top SGU administrators and faculty, touring the campus facilities as well as Grenada’s General Hospital and various health clinics, before attending a town hall meeting. With more than 100 Canadian students present, the senators spoke about the great need for doctors to return home after they’ve finished their training. They discussed different pathways for students to take and about the hurdles that young Canadians studying outside of their home country must clear.

“We thought the overall visit was extremely beneficial,” said Charles Furey, Canadian consultant, St. George’s University School of Medicine. “It provided a great education for politicians and other professionals in the medical community living in Canada to view SGU’s incredible infrastructure, faculty, curriculum, and most importantly, to meet our outstanding students who come from Canada.”

“It was really exciting to have such powerful people come to Grenada,” said Katlyn Elliott, president of the Canadian Students Association (CanSA) and a second-year medical student. “I believe this is the first time that we’ve had Canadian government officials actually come to SGU and see what we’re all about. With many provinces in Canada looking to international medical graduates to address their shortage of physicians, it was great to hear that we were the quality doctors they wanted to fill that gap.”

During the meeting, many of the senators took notes, and at the end of the visit expressed their willingness to help in any way possible to raise the profile of SGU and help remove some of the obstacles for Canadian students to return over the next few years.

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Hosts Record-Breaking Research Day

Faculty, students, and local and regional citizens recently descended on Louis and Marion Modica Hall for the 18th St. George’s University Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day, during which a record 145 presentations were showcased.

Of the presentations, 79 were posters and 66 were oral presentations. A faculty panel made up of judges from SGU and outside of the University reviewed the submissions, choosing three to four winners for each category based on originality, scientific merit, and level of involvement. Three winners were selected for Best Faculty and four for Best Student Oral Presentations, and three for Best Faculty and Best Student Poster Presentations each.

The complete list of winners can be seen below. The campus-based Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) will present each with a plaque on April 15.

“This year’s Research Day received the largest number of submissions of both poster and oral presentations in its 25-year history,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, director of research at St. George’s University. “This event saw the sharing of scholarly contributions from students, faculty and collaborators. Many thanks to all who presented, attended, or assisted with this year’s Research Day and made it such a memorable one.”

In addition to the faculty and students from all four schools at SGU, faculty from T.A. Marryshow Community College, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the University of the West Indies also presented at the conference. Co-authoring the work featured was an impressive list of collaborators from 14 countries and representing more than 50 institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Oxford, the University of Sydney, Temasek in Singapore, and Pretoria in South Africa.

St. George’s University Research Day began in 1994 as a means to disseminate outcomes of research being conducted by faculty and students at the University, which at the time comprised the Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies. With the expansion of the University’s programs and the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, the Alpha Delta Chapter of Phi Zeta Honor Society for veterinary medical students held its first Research Emphasis Day in February 2010 combining with the University-wide Research Day. The Society aims to foster the constant advancement of the veterinary profession, higher education, and scholarship, and to promote research in matters pertaining to the welfare and disease of animals. In keeping with the emphasis on One Health One Medicine, Phi Zeta conducts its Research Emphasis Day in collaboration with the other schools at the University. The next SGU Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day is scheduled for October 24, 2020.

Best Faculty Oral Presentation

  1. Dr. Bhumika Sharma – SVM
  2. Dr. Damian Greaves – SAS
  3. Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson – SOM

Best Student Oral Presentation

  1. Amber Lee – SVM
  2. Masha Phillip – SAS
  3. Matthew Carvey and Paul Feliu – SOM

Best Faculty Poster Presentation

  1. Dr. Naudia Dundas – SVM
  2. Gwen Burbank – SAS
  3. Rachael George-St. Bernard – SOM

Best Student Poster Presentation

  1. Lauren Kiebler – SVM
  2. Zoya Buckmire – SAS
  3. Jennifer Nguyen – SOM

Phi Zeta plaques/certificates were awarded to the following students for their participation: Yu Wang, Sarah Tabin, Chris Memonagle, Monica Tetnowski, Caitlin Moraland, Lindsey Hattaway, Andy Hsueh, Teresa Monroe, Dexton St. Bernard, Jaelene Haynes, Katelyn Thille, Nia Rametta, Shekinah Morris, Vishakha Vasuki, Devin Cruz-Gardillo, Haidi Janicke, and Alexandra Baker.

– Ray-Donna Peters

International Expert on Dengue Fever Delivers 20th Annual WINDREF Lecture

With 390 million dengue infections per year and 96 million more individuals showing symptoms, half of the world’s population is now at risk of contracting dengue virus, this according to Dr. Timothy Endy at the 20th annual WINDREF Lecture at St. George’s University. In his address, the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University outlined the history of dengue research in Thailand and shared his key findings and the future directions in the study of the disease.

Additionally, Dr. Endy not only came to Grenada to provide an overview of his research across almost three decades but as part of a proposed incidence study titled “Dengue in a Travel Population: Prospective Cohort Study of Primary Dengue Infection.” The study will examine dengue-naïve individuals who move to an endemic dengue area and are now at high risk for infection, while also offering an opportunity to study the immunology of primary infection.

Dr. Timothy Endy

“The Grenada prospective dengue study is the first of its kind, in that a primary prospective study has never been done,” stated Dr. Endy. “Understanding what happens during that first infection is so key and so understudied that it’s one of the main reasons why we’re doing it here at SGU.”

Funded by Janssen Global Public Health, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutica, the study began on August 2018 and will run until May 2021. Approximately 600 students are enrolled. They will provide blood samples for research surveillance throughout the year with the primary objective of determining what the incidence of dengue is within the student population, as well as the feasibility to support a prophylactic dengue efficacy trial.

“The study will focus on the incidence of infection of the dengue virus in the student body with hopes of providing a better understanding of the host response to the first dengue infection,” explained Dr. Endy. “Additionally, we hope it will help to refine diagnostic assays for dengue which is essential for diagnosing acute dengue and vaccine development; and be a platform in which to test the effectiveness of drugs and vaccines in a traveler’s population.”

As professor and chair of microbiology and immunology and vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine at Upstate, Dr. Endy is considered a renowned expert in the field of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever and emerging viral pathogens. During his longstanding career, he has conducted basic science research in the field of virology, developed vaccine field and epidemiological study sites in Southeast and Central Asia, conducted phase I and II clinical vaccine trials, and is active in the development and management of research programs that are product oriented towards developing vaccines and diagnostics that meet FDA regulatory requirements.

Formerly known as the annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture, the WINDREF Lecture attracts the attention of world experts willing to share their expertise on topics such as climate change, health needs, and drug abuse and addictions. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert C. Gallo, best known for his role in the discovery of the HIV’s link to AIDS; Dr. Ruth Macklin, a bioethics pioneer; and renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster.

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University, Hackensack University Medical Center Award Prestigious CityDoctors Scholarship

Timothy Malone, January 2019 CityDoctors scholarship recipient

Today, St. George’s University announced that it will award New Jersey resident Timothy Malone a 2019 CityDoctors scholarship on behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center.

“We’re excited to provide this scholarship to Timothy,” 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.”

Hackensack University Medical Center became a partner in St. George’s CityDoctors scholarship program in August 2012. The scholarship is available to students seeking admission to the January class of the St. George’s University School of Medicine. Malone’s scholarship will cover four years of tuition.

“We are pleased to continue our unique and successful partnership with St. George’s University,” said Mark D. Sparta, FACHE, president and chief hospital executive of Hackensack University Medical Center and executive vice president, population health at Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are very proud of Timothy, who is so deserving of this scholarship which will enable him to attend medical school.  We are excited for his future and look forward to learning about his accomplishments in the field of medicine.”

Residents of Bergen County, as well as Hackensack University Medical Center employees and their immediate family members, are eligible for this particular CityDoctors scholarship. Applicants must have already been accepted to SGU.

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

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

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. “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.