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.

Jake Schuler, CityDoctors Scholarship recipient

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.

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.”

St. George’s University Welcomes Incoming Veterinary Students in White Coat Ceremony

Last week, St. George’s University formally welcomed its newest class of aspiring veterinarians with the traditional White Coat Ceremony.

“Today is your next step along the road of realizing your dream of becoming a veterinarian,” said Dr. Neil C. Olson, dean of St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, in his opening remarks.

The White Coat Ceremony signifies the start of veterinary school for SGU’s January class. Students can begin their studies in either January or August.There are 828 students currently studying in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Nearly 90 percent are US citizens.

Other speakers at the event included St. George’s University Provost Glen Jacobs, Vice Chancellor Richard Liebowitz, and keynote speaker Dr. Janet Donlin, who serves as executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Donlin encouraged the incoming class to embrace new challenges and focus on the value of lifelong learning.

“You are our future, and our next generation of veterinarians, and tomorrow’s leaders in veterinary medicine,” Donlin said. “We’re proud of the goals you have set, and the desire you have to serve both animals and people in a changing world.”

Recently, St. George’s University earned full reaccreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. This allows St. George’s graduates to seek licensure in the United States and Canada after passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. The school’s graduates had a 95 percent pass rate on the exam in the 2017-18 school year. The reaccreditation also allows US students to apply for federal loans and deferments through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

St. George’s students spend their first three years in Grenada and complete their final year of study at an accredited affiliated school. The school has clinical partnerships with 29 other universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and Grenada. To date, St. George’s has trained over 1,400 veterinarians.

St. George’s University Welcomes New Class of Aspiring Doctors in White Coat Ceremony

Last week, St. George’s University welcomed its newest class of aspiring doctors to campus with the traditional White Coat Ceremony.

“It is a very special day, and the beginning of a new journey,” said Dr. Glen Jacobs, provost at St. George’s University, in his remarks before the new class. “I don’t know what it took you to get here today—each journey is different. But you should be really proud to be here.”

The ceremony signifies the start of medical school for St. George’s January class. Students can begin classes in either January or August.

Other speakers included Dr. Molly Kilpatrick, a 2013 graduate of St. George’s, who congratulated the incoming class and chronicled the history of the White Coat Ceremony. St. George’s University Vice Chancellor Richard Liebowitz offered words of encouragement and emphasized the value of a diverse student body, the importance of shared success, and the school’s extensive support network.

Dr. Daniel Herr, a 1981 graduate of St. George’s and the current chief of surgical critical care services and director of the Cardiac Surgery Unit at the University of Maryland, delivered the keynote address. He urged students to embrace new opportunities and take advantage of the globally focused education St. George’s provides.

“I advise you to really become a part of the culture of Grenada, because it will serve you well when you start going out into the medical school world, or out into the real world,” Dr. Herr said. “The real world isn’t just the United States anymore. The real world is interacting with other countries, other cultures, and learning other medicine.”

Altogether, nearly 100 countries on six continents are represented within the St. George’s student body.

Among the other highlights from the ceremony was the surprise presentation of a white coat to incoming student Aidrian Ranjith by his parents Ranjith Mahadeva and Koshela Ranjith, who are both SGU alumni currently practicing medicine in Ontario.

“I have no doubt that every student in this room is going to be successful,” said Dr. Liebowitz in his remarks. “At SGU, we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that success.”

SGU Medical Students Get Their Start in Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program

In January, 34 students from St. George’s University took their first steps into the medical profession at a traditional White Coat Ceremony held at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK. They joined the prestigious Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), a longstanding partnership between SGU and Northumbria University that is now in its 12th year. Students in the program are able to take the first year of their Doctor of Medicine degree at NU, before settling in Grenada to continue their studies.

The White Coat Ceremony was emceed by Dr. Derrick Eyong Ebot, MD SGU ’09, who started in the KBTGSP and is now one of the program’s clinical tutors. Dr. Ebot spoke of his time studying at Northumbria before introducing the White Coat Speaker, Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of SGU.

Dr. Olds gave a moving address, drawing heavily on his personal experiences as a doctor of medicine, to impress upon the students that their motivation must always be what is in the best interest of their patients. Enrollees were then invited onto the stage to be robed in their white coats; a symbol of the responsibility society places on those in the medical profession.

“Our relationship with Northumbria University is a vital component in our ability to offer our students a truly international education,” Dr. Olds said. “By training in different countries with international colleagues, SGU graduates will have experienced a diversity of medical and cultural settings—standing them in good stead to be world-leading doctors. This is reflected in the current group of students here in Newcastle, who come from 12 countries on four continents.”