Class of 2021 Officially Enters Medical Profession at Fall 2017 White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony was underway, and St. George’s University alumni Nina Kayeum, MD SGU ’90, and her husband Paul Capelli, MD SGU ’90, sat front and center. Nearly three decades since earning their own degrees, they were there to support their daughter, Trina, on her big day—the first step in her own path to becoming a physician.

“I’m overjoyed and overwhelmed,” said Dr. Kayeum, an internal medicine specialist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me over 30 years ago that I would be coming to St. George’s not only to pursue my dream of medicine but that I would find my partner in life and then have a daughter who would also come here to pursue the same dream. I can’t thank SGU and the people of Grenada enough—they’ve basically shaped my future.”

Dr. Kayeum was later welcomed on stage to coat her daughter, who joined her Fall 2017 classmates in taking the Oath of Professional Commitment. Donning their white coats, the Class of 2021 joined its fellow students from the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, who began their journey at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom two weeks prior.

“Having my mom put on my white coat was very emotional for me,” said Trina Capelli. “I feel both humbled and blessed to be here to have this opportunity not only to pursue my dream but to be following in both my parents’ footsteps. I decided very early on that I wanted to become a doctor and although I had different options of where I could attend medical school, growing up hearing stories about SGU and it being a part of my family’s history, I almost felt a calling to go here. I believe this is where I am meant to be.”

Delivering a very personal and energetic keynote address was Dr. Tochi Iroku-Malize, Chair and Professor of Family Medicine at Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine for Northwell Health in New York. She counseled the newly enrolled medical students that “with knowledge comes responsibility and accountability.” They were now taking on a major social responsibility, and with it a unique privilege that society bestows upon them as part of donning the white coat.

Echoing this sentiment was the evening’s master of ceremonies, Dr. Tita Castor, MD SGU ’88, Medical Director of Palliative Care Service, NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“This coat is laden with meaning,” she said. “With this coat, you will have the privilege and the burden of being part of people’s lives during their happiest and saddest moments, hearing their deepest hopes, fears, and secrets.”

In addition, the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies punctuated the first full day of activities of the University’s Beyond Spice Family Weekend. A customary element to each term in Grenada, students and family members get to soak up nature and culture on the Spice Isle prior to attending the special ceremony that marks their induction into the medical profession.

Global Students Celebrate Annual White Coat Ceremony at Northumbria University

St. George’s University medical students from across the globe were welcomed to Northumbria University on August 18 for the 10th annual White Coat Ceremony.

Students were presented with their White Coats by leading medical professionals, including keynote speaker and critical care trauma expert Daniel Herr, MD SGU ’82.

The students are part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), which allows St. George’s University medical students to complete their first year at Northumbria University‘s campus in Newcastle. The program is an exciting option for students who want to gain an international perspective on global health care.

Dr. Daniel Herr, Associate Professor at St. George’s University and Chief of Critical Care Services at University of Maryland Medical Center, has a special interest in the use of hypothermia for resuscitation and in the avoidance and treatment of acute confusional states in the ICU.

“We are incredibly proud of our partnership with Northumbria University and it is very rewarding for us to see all the students attending the White Coat Ceremony today,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “This is a significant milestone in the life of a doctor as it symbolizes their first step into the world of medicine. Dr. Herr’s speech was extremely moving, not only for students, but for the entire faculty. His career and his studies are an inspiration for all future doctors.”

The White Coat Ceremony is a longstanding tradition that began in 1993 at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University, and is now seen at many universities around the world. It symbolizes the induction of students into the medical profession, and affirms their obligation of service to others.

Students will undergo their first year of studies at Northumbria University, with the remainder of their degrees being completed at St. George’s University, followed by clinical studies in the United States and NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom.

St. George’s University to Host Major International One Health One Medicine Symposium

Uniquely positioned to lead a discussion on collaborative, global health topics, St. George’s University is hosting a two-day One Health One Medicine Symposium on October 21 and 22. In addition to being a hub for international education across medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health, the University also holds the distinction of being a World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Environmental and Occupational Health. The speakers at the conference are pioneers and leaders in this field.

“One Health One Medicine is the convergence of human, animal, and ecosystem health, resulting in a joined-up approach between complementary sectors that, all too often, are practiced in a vacuum,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, Vice Provost for International Program Development at SGU. “Each of these practices are inextricably connected, and by learning from each other and pooling resources, great progress can be made for the benefit of human and animal kind.”

St. George’s University’s OHOM initiative is aimed to help facilitate the further development of opportunities locally and, in collaboration with international institutions, to address global health challenges affecting the health of people, animals, and the environment. The initiative has evolved for 10 years, most recently to include a series of SGU-sponsored OHOM conferences, open access courses, and workshops, culminating in the upcoming symposium.

Students and faculty from the School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine host free wellness check-ups at a One Health One Medicine clinic in Grand Anse, Grenada.

Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of SGU, is also a professor in the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine as well as a tropical disease specialist who has worked on one health issues around the world. He views Grenada as the ideal location to examine issues related to the One Health One Medicine philosophy.

“It is fitting that SGU, an international center of excellence for medical training, is hosting a major conference on the importance of a global approach to human, animal, and ecosystem health,” said Dr. Olds. “Our student body, both past and present, come from all corners of the globe, and by creating a space for these experiences and ideas to come together, we will continue to drive progress in all areas of medicine.”

Distinguished international experts speaking at the event include:

  • Guy Palmer, DVM, PhD – Regents Professor of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, The Jan and Jack Creighton Endowed Chair & Senior Director of Global Health, Director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, Washington State University, USA
  • Fitzroy Henry, PhD – College of Health Sciences, University of Technology, Jamaica, West Indies
  • Sarah Cleaveland, BVSC, PhD, FRS – Professor of Comparative Epidemiology, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary, and Life Sciences, Glasgow University, Scotland, UK
  • Chulathida Chomchai, MD – Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Mahidol University International College, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Summon Chomchai – Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

A call for abstracts, to be considered by the symposium’s Scientific Advisory Committee, for oral and poster contributions to this symposium are now invited. More information and the template for the abstracts and poster presentations can be attained from Ms. Naomi Alexander.

To register for the symposium or to submit a research abstract for discussion, visit the One Health One Medicine webpage.

100 Wishes, 100 Flights, 100 Happy Kids

Is there anything better than taking a child facing his mortality and sweeping him into a moment of sheer joy and happiness?

Locally, at least 100 of the kids in the Make-A-Wish Foundation have dreamed of flying in a small plane, of feeling the wind on the wings, and the thrill of reaching new sights—snow, mountains, canyons, monkeys—that one would never see without this program and this plane.

Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, a Professor at St. George’s University and a volunteer pilot for Make-A-Wish International, has granted 100 of these wishes, treating children to new experiences throughout the Caribbean and South America.

“Completing 100 flights is great, and granting 100 wishes makes me want to do even more,” said Dr. Bidaisee. “As long as I am able to and those wishes exist, I will continue to share the joys and passions of aviation, especially with those for whom time may not be on their side.”

A cancer survivor himself, Dr. Bidaisee is not a stranger to intimations of mortality. In July 2015, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His experience and recovery prompted him to ramp up his involvement in Make-A-Wish and consider how he could best serve cancer patients, especially children who are going through chemotherapy and treatment surgeries. Since February 2016—post-cancer—Dr. Bidaisee has completed more than 50 percent of his flights.

“My life-changing events triggered my interest in this program because they reminded me of the fragility of life—you can be here today and gone tomorrow,” he said. “I’ve found a purpose beyond my own personal interests, education, and career. I’ve found that it is always the best use of my time to do something for someone else, especially for those whose time is measured and precious.”

Reciting some of his most memorable flights, Dr. Bidaisee shared the story of a 13-year-old boy with a brain tumor whose wish was to fly. The boy had never been inside an aircraft before and didn’t care where they went; he just wanted to experience flying. Another wish Dr. Bidaisee was able to grant was that of an elderly woman with ovarian cancer who had never traveled outside of her homeland, Trinidad, but wanted to see snow. He flew her to Merida in Venezuela in the mountain peaks, which was the closest place in South America to find snow. She was able to feel, walk, and play in the snow, which until then she had only seen on television.

Unfortunately, many of those people on Dr. Bidaisee’s Make-A-Wish flights have since passed away. In fact, for some it was literally their last wish. One of the losses that hit him the hardest was a 4-year-old boy with leukemia whose wish was to see a waterfall in the Amazon. Dr. Bidaisee flew the boy to the Kaieteur waterfall in Guyana—the closest he could find that resembled an Amazonian waterfall. Three weeks after that magical experience, the boy passed away after going through another cycle of chemotherapy.

“It’s hard, but at the same time, I really appreciate the fact that I was able to share that experience with him and to make his wish come true,” said Dr. Bidaisee. “And that probably matters more than anything. My own passion for aviation pales in comparison to my experiences with these kids in Make-A-Wish. I feel very privileged and honored to give them these experiences.”

As a global network, on average Make-A-Wish® grants a wish, every 34 minutes to a child suffering with serious health issues. These wishes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are heartfelt or jaw-dropping—others funny or tear-jerkers.

“Make-A-Wish is actually the best purpose that I feel in my own life right now,” extolled Dr. Bidaisee. “It’s extremely fulfilling in life to match your passion with something that truly makes a difference and serves a greater purpose.”

St. George’s University Welcomes Charles Furey as Consultant in Canada

Charles Furey

Before embarking on a long career in government, Charles Furey served as a high school English and history teacher in his native Newfoundland. Thirty years later, he will help guide Canadian students toward their career goals once more, this time with St. George’s University.

In August, SGU welcomed Mr. Furey as a consultant to Canada. He adds to an experienced staff that also includes Sandra Banner, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Resident Matching Service, who joined St. George’s University in April.

“Any new challenge is always exciting, and I’m really happy about working with Sandra, who has done an outstanding job,” he said.

At SGU, Mr. Furey will concentrate on three areas in his new position: recruitment, hospital electives, and government relations. He comes from a political family—his older brother, George, is the Speaker of the Senate in Canada. Charles Furey spent 15 years in government himself, winning five consecutive elections in Newfoundland and Labrador’s House of Assembly. He held such positions as Chief Electoral Officer; Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Recreation; Minister of Mines and Energy; and Minister of Industry, Trade, and Technology.

For 10 years, Mr. Furey was an independent consultant on advisory services, government relations, and strategy planning for a wide array of clients.

“SGU has such a great history, and I want to get into the hallways of power and explain what we’re doing to satisfy the demand for physicians, particularly in rural areas,” Mr. Furey said. “There’s a high demand that Canada can’t fill right now, and we have a great pool of students who can help.”

Mr. Furey’s career has returned to the education realm, which is where it began. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Education from St. Francis Xavier University and taught in Conche and Stephenville Crossing before turning his sights to politics. Recently, he learned about the medical landscape when his wife, Vanessa, now a neurologist at the University of Ottawa, pursued and obtained a Doctor of Medicine.

Mr. Furey also hopes to set up elective opportunities that will enhance the chances for Canadian students to receive clinical training in their home country. More than 180 SGU graduates are currently practicing in Canada, and Mr. Furey had the pleasure of meeting four of them at a recent information session in Toronto.

“I was absolutely floored by the quality of these graduates,” he remarked. “They were well-spoken, sharp on their feet, and transparent, and had all obtained fantastic residencies. They really lit up the room.”

Mr. Furey said he welcomes the opportunity to meet with more alumni, clinical students, and prospective students at upcoming SGU events, including in Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto, and Ottawa this fall.

“I look forward to opening the toolbox and seeing what we can do for students,” Mr. Furey said. “We’re providing exceptional teaching, and I want to tell the story about the many great Canadians who chose a different path.”

SGU Dean of Basic Sciences Elected President of American Association of Clinical Anatomists

As a medical student at the University of Warsaw, Marios Loukas joined the American Association of Clinical Anatomists in 1997. Since then, the Dean of Basic Sciences and Professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at St. George’s University has been committed to teaching and studying anatomy, calling it the “foundation knowledge” for all physicians, as well as the foundation for his own career in medicine, academia, and research.

At the AACA annual meeting in Minneapolis last month, the organization’s members elected Dr. Loukas as its 18th president, 20 years since his entry into the AACA. In his new role, Dr. Loukas hopes to expand the visibility of anatomists across the scientific community, improve faculty development, and increase student membership. In addition, he aims to create a clinical anatomists certificate program that recognizes individuals’ excellence and dedication in the field of clinical anatomy.

“In anatomy, you not only learn what makes up the human body, but you learn the clinical application behind every bone, organ, nerve, artery, and more,” said Dr. Loukas.

Through his affiliation with the AACA, he met Drs. Peter Abrahams, Vishnu Rao, and Robert Jordan, who invited him to join SGU as an Associate Professor of Anatomy in 2005. Dr. Loukas has ascended to his current roles within the Department, and also serves as the University’s Dean of Basic Sciences and Research.

While the study of anatomy dates back thousands of years, Dr. Loukas said the most contemporary method of studying human anatomy is imaging—specifically ultrasound—for which the human body “comes to life.” Beginning in 2011, SGU integrated ultrasound education in its curriculum, with training sessions complementing relevant material taught in lectures, wet labs, and small-group discussion sessions. An additional outcome of such integration is availability of research opportunities for students and faculty. This year, five SGU medical students presented ultrasound research at the AACA meeting, including second-year student Jenna Kroeker, who was recognized for the best clinical anatomy poster presentation among 120 submissions.

St. George’s University Graduate Elected President of New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians

A primary care physician in the state for more than 30 years, Peter Carrazzone, MD SGU ’83, has been named President of the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians (NJAFP), and will represent the membership and its best interests during his term of office.

Dr. Carrazzone practices family medicine with Vanguard Medical Group in North Haledon, NJ. He is also the Medical Director for the John Victor Machuga Diabetic Center at St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital.

“I can promise this board will be focused and work tirelessly to improve the Academy and the landscape for family physicians in this state,” he said during his acceptance speech at the NJAFP’s Annual Scientific Assembly in Atlantic City on June 27.

Peter Carrazzone, MD SGU ’83

The NJAFP, the largest primary care medical specialty society in the state, is comprised of more than 2,000 physicians statewide, and is a leader in health care practice transformation and advocacy. Dr. Carrazzone has chaired the Academy’s Government Affairs Committee for the past three years, and as President, pledged to represent all NJAFP members, from the debt-ridden family medicine resident, to the family physician working in academic medicine, to the solo and large group family physicians and more.

Dr. Carrazzone said he has two primary focuses for his tenure as president – addressing family medicine resident debt and loan forgiveness, and a thorough review of the state’s family practice bylaws. He said that New Jersey has been dubbed a “primary care desert,” with family physicians leaving the state to pursue higher-paying opportunities elsewhere. As a result, New Jersey has the second-highest cost of care per patient in the United States, yet ranks 49th according to quality-of-care metrics.

“For our patients, for our families, for the specialty of family medicine, this is the time we must be advocates,” he said. “This is the time we need to communicate to our legislators. This is the time our collective voice needs to be heard. This is the time to promote value and quality. This is the time to promote a stronger primary care infrastructure to insurances and our government. This is the time to cure a broken health care system. This is the time for family medicine.”

Upon graduating from SGU, Dr. Carrazzone completed his residency in family practice at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson. In addition to his longstanding tenure with Vanguard, he has taught at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

Dr. Carrazzone came to St. George’s University in 1979, and has used the experience as a foundation for his career in medicine. Although he has yet to return to Grenada since his basic science studies, he routinely guides his alma mater’s clinical students who rotate through St. Joseph’s. “It’s a strong academic program,” he said. “The students are bright and motivated, and I don’t see much of a difference between them and students coming from US schools.”

University of Munich Recognizes SGU Professor for Lung Function Research

One of the most prestigious universities in Europe, the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich (LMU) annually offers the Prize of the Munich University Society for outstanding scientific work by students. Among the winners of the six coveted spots for exceptional doctoral works was St. George’s University professor Dr. Maia Smith, whose research titled, “Associations Between Physical Activity and Lung Function in a Cohort of German Adolescents” garnered her both a certificate of recognition and the corresponding prize money of Euro 3,000.

“I’m beyond pleased and somewhat surprised at this honor,” said Dr. Smith, an Assistant Professor at SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. “Among such impressive candidates from such diverse backgrounds, I feel extremely proud to have my work recognized.”

Touted as the largest cross-faculty support organization in Germany, the Society of friends and sponsors of LMU offers an annual incentive for young academics to intensify their scientific work. Up to six doctoral works and three habilitations are awarded, with the goal of directing the attention of a broader scientific public towards the particular achievement of the scientist.

Dr. Smith joined SGU this April to teach epidemiology and biostatistics. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in human ecology from the College of the Atlantic, a Master of Science from Drexel University in biostatistics, and a research doctorate in human biology from LMU. During her studies at LMU, she served as a graduate research assistant for Helmholtz Center in Munich, which develops personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes, lung disease, and allergy.

“I believe a combination of research support and relevant teaching is what will make a difference to young MD students, and it’s what brought me to SGU,” said Dr. Smith. “Science has always seemed like a universal language, and it’s very gratifying to see that others feel that way too.”

St. George’s University Medical Student Steps in to Save Man’s Life During In-Flight Emergency

St. George’s University medical student Moshe Karp. Photo Credit: Luvnish Karnani.

What was a life-saving moment for one JetBlue passenger was a life-changing moment for St. George’s University third-year medical student Moshe Karp.

On June 22, Mr. Karp had completed his basic science studies and was headed to New York City for his clinical rotations. About an hour into the flight, he learned that a passenger had wandered into the rear of the cabin. Mr. Karp, an NYC paramedic for 11 years, found the 59-year-old male to be cool, pale, and sweating heavily, with agonal respirations and no pulse. With the assistance of another passenger, Mr. Karp immediately brought the patient to the floor and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and assisted ventilation.

CPR continued for approximately eight minutes, after which time the patient became “alert and oriented” and began to produce a “nice, strong pulse.” He then sat up and informed Mr. Karp that his glucometer was with his belongings. The man’s blood sugar registered at 331 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or highly hyperglycemic.

“Without a pulse, he wasn’t producing enough pump to provide enough blood pressure to maintain his vital organs,” Mr. Karp said. “Good compressions assisted that, his body compensated, and he ultimately came back.”

The flight made an emergency landing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to allow emergency responders to tend to the man’s health.

“We caught him at the right time,” Mr. Karp said. “Saving a life, even as a paramedic, doesn’t come around that often, especially when someone goes into cardiac arrest. It’s very unusual to be within the window of opportunity to bring someone back to full responsiveness. To be able to help is very rewarding.”

Before continuing on to New York, Mr. Karp learned that his patient lived two blocks from his family’s first home in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood that he later visited many times as a paramedic. In addition, the man was a native Grenadian, while Mr. Karp’s father was born and raised in Barbados.

“We talked a lot about our similarities,” Mr. Karp said. “It was a very interesting connection. There’s a good chance we had crossed paths at some point.”

That they crossed paths—perhaps again—on the flight not only saved one man’s life but it rerouted Mr. Karp’s career path. He had hesitations about emergency medicine, citing the hectic lifestyle that comes with it.

“I was uncertain until this moment, but this experience definitely solidified it for me,” he said. “I had thought about going into family medicine because you develop closer relationships with patients, but I think I thrive in emergency medicine. I do love that type of environment, and this taught me this is maybe where I’m needed most.”

Veterinary Student Acknowledged for Excellence in Small Animal Neurology

Dr. William Thomas, Professor of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Tennessee (left) with Amelia Roos, 4th year School of Veterinary Medicine Student, St. George’s University

The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine’s Rodney Award is given annually to one outstanding clinical student in small animal neurology. This year, the distinction went to St. George’s University fourth-year veterinary student Amelia Roos, whom the faculty recognized for her competency and passion exhibited during her clinical rotation in Knoxville.

“This particular award is an absolute honor to receive,” said Ms. Roos. “Yet, the greatest gift was being recognized for my capabilities by the Neurology Service that I admire so much. And I hope to continue to honor this recognition.”

The Rodney Award is named after a border collie belonging to Karen McLucas, a patient of the Neurology Service. In addition to receiving this year’s accolades, Ms. Roos also received a copy of Alexander de Lahunta’s Veterinary Neuroanatomy and Clinical Neurology 4th edition textbook and a Welch Allyn penlight.

Originally from a small town in Southern California, Ms. Roos has come a long way from those days in elementary school when she brought home and cared for injured birds and stray dogs. Currently completing her clinical year at U of T, Ms. Roos views this year’s Rodney Award as bringing her a step closer in fulfilling her dream of becoming a veterinarian.

“Since experiencing neurology in the clinical setting, I have actually been inspired to further my career in this field, which is a huge decision for me,” shared Ms. Roos. “In the future, I hope to pursue an academic small animal rotating internship and, if I’m fortunate enough, a residency in neurology. Once I’ve established myself as a veterinarian, I also hope to organize free exam/vaccine clinics for low-income communities in the interest of public health and education, a personal passion of mine.”