St. George’s University Catapulted Brownrigg, SGU MD ’07, to Anesthesiology Career in Midwest

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When Tanner Brownrigg set off from his home state of Kansas to enroll at St. George’s University School of Medicine in 2003, he had a vision of where the path would lead him. He wanted to study anesthesiology and return to the Midwest to continue his career.

Nine years later, he’s an anesthesiologist at Ad Vivum Anesthesiology, a group of 10 physicians, practicing anesthesia at a community hospital and an ambulatory surgery center in Kansas City. The plan worked. He’s where he always wanted to be, doing what he always wanted to do.

“I have nothing but great things to say about St. George’s,” he said. “I loved my experience there. I went there with a clear idea in my head of what my future held, and it came to fruition.”

Dr. Brownrigg believes one of the main draws to anesthesiology is the ability to work with a variety of different patient populations. On a daily basis he is able provide care to everyone from infants to expectant mothers to geriatric patients. A typical day’s cases might range from outpatient knee arthroscopies and pediatric ear tube placement to epidurals and cesarean section for child birth, or even heart and brain surgeries. He is an integral part of the process before, during, and after the operation.

“Before the surgery, we take the patients’ history, review their labs and X-rays, and making sure they’re medically stable to proceed with the surgery. Once we get into the operating room, I monitor the patient throughout the operation and am able to respond to acute changes that may take place during the surgery. Then in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), I help control the pain and make sure the patient is stable for discharge home or to the hospital floor.”

Upon earning his Doctor of Medicine from SGU, Dr. Brownrigg began his anesthesiology residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City in 2007. Paving the way to matching with his chosen specialty and location was an outstanding performance on both Step 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Dr. Brownrigg finished in the 98th percentile for each exam.

Prior to Match Day, he was confident that he would be paired with one of his top three residency choices. In fact, he had to turn down a number of residency interviews.

“The fact that I scored so well on the USMLE Step 1 and 2 exams was directly related to the quality of the professors at St. George’s and how the classes are structured,” Dr. Brownrigg said. “I never came across a professor that wasn’t willing to help you any way they could. They are at St. George’s purely to teach and it shows.”

He has paid it forward by performing student interviews for the University and attending information sessions in the Kansas City area.

“I’m very grateful that St. George’s gave me the chance to pursue my dream, and as a result I feel it’s important to give back to the school,” Dr. Brownrigg said.

A native of Ottawa, KS, Dr. Brownrigg earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Kansas in 2003, graduating with highest distinction. While in college, he worked as a nurse assistant at a local hospital and performed a variety of volunteer work in the community.

Dr. Brownrigg is certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and is a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists, and Kansas City Society of Anesthesiologists. He and his wife, Kara, a nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital, reside in Kansas City, Missouri.

World-Renowned Physician-Scientist Dr. Robert C. Gallo to Speak at St. George’s University

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On February 12, 2013, Robert C. Gallo, MD, who for the past 30 years has been one of the most influential scientists in the world, will visit St. George’s University to deliver the 5th Keith B. Taylor Memorial/13th Annual WINDREF Lecture. The title of his lecture will beViruses and Epidemics With a Focus on HIV/AIDS: Our Attempts to Control Them. The lecture, which is open to the public, faculty, and students, will take place at 6 pm at Patrick F. Adams Hall.

Dr. Gallo, founder and co-director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is one of the pioneers in the field of human retrovirology. Together with his colleagues, in 1980 he discovered HTLV-1, which causes leukemia and was the first of the human retroviruses to be discovered. Later in the decade, he discovered HTLV-2 and co-discovered HIV. Dr. Gallo provided the first clear evidence that HIV caused AIDS, and he and his team developed the first HIV diagnostic test. In the ’90s, Dr. Gallo and his coworkers also discovered the first natural inhibitors of HIV, which was instrumental in developing treatments for the infection.

In addition, in 1986 he and his team also discovered the first human herpes virus in more than 25 years, HHV-6, which proved to cause the infantile disease, roseola.

Dr. Gallo has received numerous major scientific honors and awards, including the prestigious Albert Lasker Award, which he was awarded in 1982 and 1986. He was rated the most cited scientist in the world for two decades in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Institute for Scientific Information. Dr. Gallo was also ranked third in the world for scientific impact for the period 1983-2002. He has been awarded 30 honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, Sweden, Italy, Israel, Peru, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Ireland, Jamaica, and Greece.

4 Countries, 1 Dream: New St. George’s University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Class Welcomed with theme of One Health, One Medicine

The energy in the Bourne Hall was palpable as the speakers began the 28th School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony, which ushered in the entering class of veterinary medicine students to St. George’s University.

Hollie Schramm, DVM, a 2007 alumna of the SVM welcomed the new students and rejoiced in the journey they are beginning. “Study hard, be involved and have fun,” urged Dr. Schramm, now a clinical instructor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. “Grenada is a place that I hold near and dear, and after attending SGU, at which you are assured to gain a top-notch education, I am confident you will cherish this experience and your time on this beautiful island like I do.”

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Dr. Raymond Sis, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, also warmly welcomed the students, touching on the life skills they will acquire throughout their course of study: leadership, teamwork, decision making, problem solving, and business acumen. He also had the honor of introducing Dr. René Carlson, a past president of the AVMA and 35-plus-year small animal practitioner, to the dignitaries and the entering class.

In her keynote address, Dr. Carlson began by explaining that she has based her life philosophy on her 84-year-old mother, who just recently married her dance partner.

“Dream your dream, take the steps to get there, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t,” she said. “As you greet this white coat and your inception into veterinary medical practice, a new door opens. You are entering one of the most respected and beloved professions in the world.”

She gave the entering class three major lessons for the years ahead – that veterinarians must work diligently to understand and gain the trust of people as much as animals; that despite their efforts not all animals can be saved; and that they should embrace organized medicine on the local, national, and global levels.

Dr. Carlson went on to encourage students to think beyond pet/companion medicine and of larger-scale health concerns, leaving individuals with endless avenues to make a difference in their communities.

“We have a huge role to play in food production and food security, environmental protection, and prevention and management of zoonotic diseases,” Dr. Carlson said. “These are national and global health concerns and we are fast becoming a very global society. With the astonishing movement of people and animals, both food and companion, around the globe, we all must be aware of One Health, One Medicine. We all must become involved.”

The ceremony ended with the students taking the Oath of Commitment to the profession after being robed by a colleague in the symbolic white coat. And, being veterinary students who are competitive, challenging and extremely connective, it ended with a pictorial presentation of their leadership, trust and team building activities during the Professional Attributes Workshop (PAWS).

St. George’s University Welcomes 560 Students at Spring 2013 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies

Students in St. George’s University School of Medicine and the University’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program waited with excitement, exuberance, and a bit of apprehension. In two ceremonies, in two countries, the Spring 2013 class of 560 medical students took their first step in the journey that is medical school.

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It is a milestone that SGU graduate Leslie Griffin, MD, MPH ’08, vividly recalled when as a new medical student she began her medical career at St. George’s University. Dr. Griffin, now a clinical faculty member at University of Tennessee Family Practice, put the feeling into words as the master of ceremonies at the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony in Grenada on Monday, January 21.

“You chose a medical school that will not only provide you with an excellent education, but with access to experiences with diverse medical systems and cultures,” Dr. Griffin said, “Over the next four years you will create lasting relationships that will help you as you advance though the trials of being a medical student on towards residency and beyond.”

Delivering a spirited and passionate address, keynote speaker Charles Twort MA, MD, FRCP, FRCPE, a consultant physician in general and respiratory medicine at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals, described the White Coat Ceremony as a symbol of humanism and the coat as a cloak of responsibility, trust, and purity.

“You’re amongst the greatest and the brightest of the crop; however you have a responsibility as a future doctor to link your academic intellect with your care for individual patients,” Dr. Twort said. “The donning of the white coat is a symbol of respect and trust from your patients, but this respect must be earned and kept.”

Emphasizing communication as the key to success, Dr. Twort continued, imploring students to “listen to your patients without interrupting and give them information in words they can understand. Avoid medical jargon so your patients can confidently and collaboratively make decisions with you about their healthcare.”

The entering class of students in Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars program took their professional oath in a ceremony at Domain Hall within the Northumbria Students’ Union building in Newcastle, UK.

Dr. David Pencheon, the director of the National Health Service (NHS) Sustainable Development Unit, was the keynote speaker for the evening. He explained that patients demand two important qualities from their doctors. First, they must be a strong communicator, particularly by listening thoroughly to their patients’ experiences, abiding by the phrase “Trust me, I’m your patient.”

Second, he insisted that doctors must build and foster lifelong relationships with their clientele, serving as a resource for their patients. Doctors will first do something to a patient, then for a patient, and through forming a strong bond, then ultimately with a patient.

In addition, Dr. Pencheon insisted that the future doctors must distinguish and relay the causes of health, a quality as crucial as seekin g the causes of disease.. Looking ahead to the future, Dr. Pencheon explained the world needs leaders who rank global health foremost among their priorities. He said that doctors shine in critical times, but such situations would not arise if budding issues were addressed before they became a widespread problem.

Addressing the incoming students at the white coat ceremony in Grenada thirty-six years and four days after the School of Medicine accepted its first class; St. George’s University Chancellor Charles Modica referenced the humble beginnings of the University. Despite its many changes throughout the years, he stated, “One thing that hasn’t changed is the true desire in classes such as this, to become physicians and to serve fellow men, and that’s what we’re all about – pursuing dreams and making them happen.”

Aspiring Rider Turned Horse Vet Relishes Role

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Growing up in Colorado, Dr. Kirsten Traul, DVM ’04, admits she had similar dreams to her fellow horse-crazy classmates, she wanted to be a professional rider. She couldn’t get enough of horses then, and her attitude hasn’t wavered, although she’s in a different albeit rewarding role as the attending veterinarian at Premier Breeding Services, a large equine reproduction facility in southeast Denver, CO.

“It is fascinating to me because no two days are alike,” said Dr. Traul. “Every day has something unusual to it that makes me stretch and grow as a veterinarian. I really enjoy working with horses, particularly with the foals. It’s kind of a mix of being an OB/GYN and an emergency room doctor. It is fun.”

Her affinity for horses started at age eight and she was a competitive rider throughout junior high school and high school. “A woman in the neighborhood who had a horse farm let a bunch of us kids go and ride and play with the babies,” Dr. Traul recalls. “She got me completely hooked on horses.”

Her love of horses evolved into a desire to care for them in the most intense way possible – as a veterinarian. She enrolled at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine to pursue that dream and took advantage of learning from a faculty that was both renowned and diverse. She fully embraced the Grenadian culture and appreciated the knowledge and accessibility of the professors.

“SGU taught me to think through a diagnosis and to ask the right questions,” Dr. Traul said. “The experience was very hands-on and that helped you developed good observation skills.”

“One of the best things about SGU is the fact that it isn’t a US school. It makes you think in a different way, and makes you a better vet.”

Located just outside the SGU campus, the Elisabeth McClellan Small Animal Clinic provides outstanding care to the Grenadian community while also serving as a venue to teach St. George’s University students the clinical skills necessary to be successful in the profession.

Dr. Traul completed her clinical rotations at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in early January 2004. She was hired by Washington State CVM’s anesthesia department immediately after graduation. In 2006, she and her husband moved to Colorado where she was appointed to the Premier Breeding Services staff. By Dr. Traul’s estimation, the organization breeds upwards of 300 mares a season, delivering 30 to 40, and stands between 15 and 20 stallions. In addition to basic reproduction services, she provides neonatal care, assists in the transfer of embryos and collects semen for shipping and freezing, as well as dealing with colics and other emergencies.

She runs a mobile veterinary service during the fall months; horses breed from January to September. In visits to her clients, Dr. Traul administers vaccinations, performs routine physical examinations, and responds to various emergencies. She is also a certified veterinary acupuncturist.

“One of the best things about SGU is the fact that it isn’t a US school,” Dr. Traul said. “It makes you think in a different way, and makes you a better vet. I enjoyed the experience very much.”

“Sea Grapes” Named Best In Show For SGU Photo Contest

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Hundreds of images were sent in from all over the world, and once again, the fifth annual “Focus: An SGU Perspective” Photo Contest has, in one way or another, captured the spectacular and international flavor of the St. George’s University experience. After the votes were tabulated, “Sea Grapes,” a photo taken by first-term veterinary medical student Lindsay Shephard, was named Best in Show.

Ms. Shephard captured the winning image while waiting to watch the sun set over Grand Anse Beach in August. The girl pictured was using a plastic bucket to catch sea grapes that her mother, higher up in the tree, tossed down to her.

“This picture has such an innocent feel to it,” Ms. Shephard said. “The girl was perfectly content to spend her afternoon with her mom picking sea grapes. It’s a reminder to enjoy the simplicities of life.”

She snapped the photo using her Canon EOS Rebel XS. Days later, Ms. Shephard was officially welcomed into the School of Veterinary Medicine at its White Coat Ceremony at Adams Hall.

All placewinners will be published in the 2013 edition of Mace, the University’s annual literary magazine, which also features stories and poems related to this year’s theme, “Vision.” You can also see them by visiting SGU’s Facebook page.

“From a diverse blend of students, alumni, faculty, and staff comes imagery from all over the world that reflects the SGU family’s unique makeup,” said Margaret A. Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning, University Registrar and Director of Communications and Publications. “The beautiful array of discoveries on display in this year’s photo contest demonstrates the full breadth of the SGU experience, whether it’s down the street from the True Blue campus or around the world.”


Categories and submission details for the 2013 Photo Contest will be announced during the Spring 2013 term.

MBA Degree Has Helped Grenadian Develop Charcoals Caribbean Grill

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Brigitte Assing and her colleagues shared a moment of joy this past spring. Having worked tirelessly to complete St. George’s Master of Business Administration program, the charter class graduated with their MBA in International Business.

Assing, who owns and operates Charcoals Caribbean Grill in Lance aux Epines, had only one regret—that she didn’t get her MBA sooner. It has made a world of difference.

“In retrospect it would have been great to have gotten it prior to opening the restaurant,” Assing said. “What I learned in the MBA program would have helped a lot. There are so many things that we probably wasted money on thinking we were doing the right thing.”

She and her husband Mark had always dreamed of opening their own restaurant and in 2009 Charcoals welcomed its first customers. Located approximately 1.5 miles from the St. George’s University campus and boasting an affordable menu of items that includes a mix of burgers, sandwiches, seafood, salads and more, Charcoals quickly became a popular spot among residents and St. George’s University students. They had their niche – tasty yet affordable fare.

“There are quite a few restaurants that are in a higher price bracket so we decided to offer healthy grilled food at affordable prices for families and students who are looking for a good value when eating out,” Assing said.

However, despite some early success, Brigitte soon learned that opening a restaurant and creating the menu were the least of the challenges she would face. Keeping the books, developing and launching an effective marketing program, and growing a loyal following made her realize that she needed some training in these areas if she was to make her family business a success. In 2010, she set off to earn her Master of Business Administration and in June 2012 was part of the charter class of MBA graduates from SGU.

“I had always wanted to get my MBA, but I just never had the opportunity. I thought it would be difficult to balance my studies with family and work, but SGU’s online format made it easier for me to accomplish my goals, “Assing said. “I realized that SGU was offering a great opportunity. I went forward with the degree and have never regretted it.”

The MBA program charter class included nearly a dozen students from around the world. Despite the online format, members of the charter class grew to become friends after meeting each other in Grenada during one of the residency weeks held at the beginning and end of the degree track.

“Even though we rarely met in person, we did meet often via our computer screens so I got to know my classmates and enjoyed working with them on projects,” said Assing, who graduated with a 4.0 grade point average.

“It was wonderful being able to graduate with my team,” she continued. “We were all so proud to still be together. We had worked so hard over the past 18 months and could now point to our accomplishment.”

Since graduating from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality and Business management in 1991, Assing has spent more than 20 years in the field of business in management positions. She worked for nine years at Spice Island Beach Resort, and then in 1999, she joined Woodlands-based Creative Design Building Construction Co., Ltd., as an Administrative manager and was promoted to Procurement and Administrative Services manager in 2005. In that position she developed and managed the Administrative department and its budgets, oversaw all overseas and local procurement and distribution of all construction materials, including all new and ongoing construction projects at St. George’s University. During this period she was specifically involved in the rebuilding of SGU after Hurricane Ivan ravaged the campus in 2004.

Since 2009, Assing has been a business and hospitality guest lecturer at St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences. She is also on the board of directors at her alma mater, Westmorland Secondary School in Grenada. She and her husband of 17 years live in Lance aux Epines and have one daughter.

Bound For Down Under: Rachel Halbert Becomes First DVM Licensee in New Zealand

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St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine has prepared Dr. Rachel Halbert well for her next adventure, which will take her across the globe. In January, Dr. Halbert will begin serving as Veterinary Technical Supervisor for the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, becoming the first-ever SGU DVM graduate to be licensed in the country.

The global education she received at St. George’s provided the Wisconsin native with a natural springboard for her professional horizons upon graduation. She attained her Master of Public Health (MPH) and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) concurrently, fast-tracking her for a career in a leadership role in veterinary medicine and public health, which she found to be a “much more satisfying route” compared to traditional veterinary medicine.

“Going to St. George’s gave me a global perspective on different disease processes,” Dr. Halbert said. “I valued having professors from all over; everyone had personal stories from where they lived, and the education reflected it as well. Just because something happens in the US doesn’t mean it happens someplace else, and vice versa.”

The Ministry, one of the largest veterinary employers in New Zealand, contributes toward the country’s long-term economic and nutritional growth by maintaining its agriculture, food, forestry, fisheries and marine industries. According to the Ministry, exports from the country climbed from $39 million to $44.2 million from 2010 to 2011, an increase of 13 percent. The sharpest increase by percentage (25%) came in the dairy sector, on which Dr. Halbert concentrated throughout her career in veterinary medicine.

She will be based in the port town of Timaru, located approximately two-and-a-half hours from the city of Christchurch. Her primary responsibilities will include maintaining humane conditions for animals, performing health checks and ensuring that communicable diseases aren’t introduced into the food chain or general population.

With more than 140 countries represented on the Grenada and UK campuses, St. George’s University is an international institution with a conscious international outreach. Just months before Dr. Halbert’s appointment in New Zealand, Dr. Lauren Havenga, DVM (SGUSVM ‘10), became the first SVM graduate to be licensed to practice in South Africa. The University is one of just 12 AVMA-accredited veterinary medical schools outside the United States and Canada. The University encourages students to take advantage of the opportunity to take dual degrees in public health and/or business, leading to leadership roles in the professions.

As she embarks on her next adventure, when she must be prepared for anything that comes her way, Dr. Halbert is thrilled to have a solid foundation in place – the education she received at St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

“I’m open to whatever comes my way with time,” Dr. Halbert said. “I don’t have a clear vision of where I want to go from here, but I would love to see where this opportunity takes me. St. George’s prepared me to consider a world of opportunities.”

US National Academic Advising Association Recognizes St. George’s Department of Educational Services

The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) announced that St. George’s University Department of Educational Services was selected as recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Certificate of Merit Award for its Supplemental Learning Program (SLP). Based in the US with members representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico, for more than 30 years the NACADA has supported academic advising and recognized higher education programs that contribute to academic advising and student-related support services. St. George’s is the first Caribbean institution outside of Puerto Rico to be recognized by the association.

The award was presented to the SLP unit in early October during NACADA’s annual conference in Denver, Colorado. “We are honored that NACADA has recognized the efforts of the Supplemental Learning Program,” said Dr. Adrian Havenga, Chair and Professor of Education Services.

The voluntary group sessions are held at least once a week, providing extra academic support for the larger classes offered at the University that are traditionally found to be more rigorous. Although available to all students, Dr. Havenga stressed how the program has been extremely beneficial for incoming students. “Even though it is not mandatory, students elect to use this resource—especially in the beginning of the semester when they are still finding their feet,” he added.

In addition to surveying students and faculty, the Department monitors attendance and performance scores to review the outcomes of the program and the progress of participants. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve and for new methods that will help our students master the material,” said Peter Slinger, Instructor of Educational Services, of the continuous evaluation that goes in to developing a top learning support program.

Since its inception in 2000, the SLP functions as an academic support group primarily for students in their undergraduate and preprofessional studies, including Arts and Sciences, Charter Foundation, Premedical, and Preveterinary Medical programs. In addition to the SLP, the Department of Education Services provides academic development and support services to students and faculty across all disciplines. Close to 100 percent of the University’s students—and many of the professors—in all schools avail themselves of the support offered through a variety of innovative programs, including time management, note-taking skills, and utilizing technology effectively in teaching and learning.

NACADA is US-based international organization representing 10,000 members from higher education institutions from around the world. Members include faculty, advisors, counselors, administrators and students. The goal of NACADA has been to honor individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising.

SGU Tops US Performance on USMLE Step 1

In 2010, SGU’s US and Canadian medical students surpassed medical school students in the US and Canada with a 94% first time pass rate on the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1. In fact, overall, SGU first time USMLE takers – students who were from 49 different countries – equaled the first time pass rate of 92% in the US and Canada for 2010.

“We are thrilled to be able to report this result,” said Chancellor Charles Modica of St. George’s University. “St. George’s has always had a strong commitment to teaching and learning – and this result only serves to reinforce our focus on training excellent doctors for the US, Canada, and the world.”

Margaret Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning considers St. George’s unique Department of Educational Services a cornerstone of the success SGU students have seen when taking the USMLE. “SGU’s success with student support services is borne out in the results we have achieved,” remarked Dean Lambert. “Our faculty is committed to excellence in teaching, both in Grenada and at our Global Scholars Program in the UK, and our commitment to student success supports our mission as an institution of teaching excellence.”

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*Excludes SGU
1. St. George’s University, Office of Enrolment Planning
2. United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) website as published in 2010 National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Annual Report