SGU Graduate Named Resident of the Month at Marshall University

In July, St. George’s University graduate Thao Wolbert was named Resident of the Month by Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

On MU’s Twitter account, it was noted that “patients and every member of her clinical care team raved about Dr. Thao Wolbert’s bedside manner and knowledge of the human body, surgery and the disease process.” Dr. Wolbert is in the third year of a five-year surgery residency at MU, and is currently applying for plastic surgery fellowships.

Read the full story here.

Dr. Olds Discusses US Doctor Shortage on WUSA 9 in Washington, DC

Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University, visited with WUSA 9 in Washington, DC, to discuss the primary care doctor shortage facing the United States.

“There’s a general shortage of physicians because we don’t produce enough doctors in the US for our needs. Remember that we’re a growing country, but from a doctors’ standpoint, we’re an aging country, and when you get over 70 years of age, your need for physicians goes up astronomically.

“The primary care problem is that 30 percent of graduates of US medical schools go into primary care and the rest specialize. We need more than half of them to go into primary care. This primary care shortage is going to get considerably worse as the next decade rolls out.”

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the nation will be short up to 50,000 primary care doctors by 2030.

Health Education England and St. George’s University Reach Agreement on New Program to Fill Postgraduate Medical Training Programs in England

Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University (left), and Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of Health Education England, sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow SGU graduates to undertake postgraduate training in England through the NHS’ Widening Access to Specialty Training program.

At a ceremony in Grenada, leaders of Health Education England (HEE), part of the National Health Service (NHS), and St. George’s University signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enable SGU School of Medicine graduates to undertake postgraduate training in England, with the first intake expected in the autumn of 2018. SGU School of Medicine is the only Caribbean medical school in a direct agreement with Health Education England for the first 18-month program to provide graduates for postgraduate training. The agreement is expected to facilitate 50-100 trainees annually from SGU School of Medicine entering the NHS in England.

This agreement establishes a pathway for a significant number of SGU School of Medicine graduates to join the Widening Access to Specialty Training (WAST) Program, an initiative within NHS that recruits overseas postgraduate doctors, with a focus on ensuring they are able to enter general practice and psychiatry training programs, the expansion of both specialties being a key priority for the NHS. Sixteen SGU graduates will begin WAST in the next seven months, with many more in the application process.

Graduates will undertake one or two postgraduate foundation years, depending on prior experience, followed by entry into specialty training. This postgraduate training is recognized for licensure and given credit in the UK, the European Union, and Commonwealth countries.

“Our role is to ensure the health workforce in England can meet the challenges faced by the NHS, which includes the provision of services in underserved areas,” said Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of Health Education England. “We are very impressed that graduates provided by SGU are of the high standard demanded by the NHS; I look forward to the first intake arriving in 2018.”

St. George’s University has graduated more than 16,000 physicians who have gone on to practice medicine throughout the world.

HEE Director of Global Engagement Ged Byrne added, “St. George’s students are well qualified and talented. We anticipate they will have great success in our postgraduate training programs and in practice in the UK afterwards.”

“This agreement highlights the increasingly important role played by SGU as an international institution in global health care,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of SGU. “Our extensive network of partner universities and teaching hospitals around the world, including in England, ensures our students receive a comprehensive education in a range of clinical environments. This is reflected in the fact that we are the only Caribbean medical school to enter into an agreement with HEE, enabling our graduates to apply for the WAST program. England has one of the most stringent regulatory frameworks in the world, and that our graduates now have this opportunity is reflective of their caliber. We are delighted that this major development has taken place in the 70th anniversary year of the NHS.”

With intakes in February and August each year, most successful applicants will join a one-year postgraduate foundation clinical course in England, where they will improve the skills and competencies required for admission to specialty training. The program will typically consist of six months of psychiatry training followed by six months in an acute hospital setting. Upon completing the program, graduates will be eligible to apply for an Alternative Certificate of Foundation Competencies, after which they can apply for a three-year program of specialty training in England.

Commenting on the importance of the agreement for SGU in the UK, Rodney Croft, Dean of Clinical Studies, UK, said, “I am delighted that St. George’s medical graduates, some of whom have received clinical training in our 17 NHS affiliated hospitals in England, will now have the opportunity to return to England to practice—thereby helping to offset the numerical and specialty shortage of doctors we are presently experiencing.”

The location of training for those on the WAST program will be assigned by HEE, with most programs focusing on areas of acute shortage, predominantly in the Midlands, East, North and South West of England, Yorkshire, and the Humber. Successful applicants will be offered their highest available location preference.

“One of our central aims is to find ways to train doctors in the areas they are needed most,” said Dr. Olds. “The global shortage of medical professionals is exacerbated by maldistribution, both by geography and specialty. This agreement, which will encourage our graduates to train in family medicine and psychiatry in areas of England with the greatest need, is one example of how we are making a significant positive impact around the world.”

Renowned Horse Owner on SGU MD Alumnus: He “Saved My Life”

Bloodhorse.com, one of the racing industry’s leaders in covering horse racing and breeding, told the story of how horse owner Robert LaPenta was hospitalized with a rare disease back in March. That’s when St. George’s University graduate Peter Saikali, MD SGU ’15, intervened. Then an internal medicine resident at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut, Dr. Saikali suspected that Mr. LaPenta had contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

“You read about treatments for pneumonia and viruses, but if they don’t know which exact bacteria to give you, you are in serious trouble,” Mr. LaPenta said. “It was this really smart young doctor, Dr. Saikali, who saved my life. Thank God for his diagnosis. … I was about five hours from lights out.”

Mr. LaPenta said that he will honor Dr. Saikali’s heroic efforts by naming one of his 2-year-old horses after him.

Read more about Mr. LaPenta’s treatment on bloodhorse.com.

St. George’s University and Fairleigh Dickinson University Launch Medical Education Partnership

St. George’s University has announced a new partnership with Fairleigh Dickinson University that will give qualified FDU students an expedited enrollment path into the School of Medicine at SGU.

“We are delighted to welcome Fairleigh Dickinson’s best and brightest to St. George’s University so that they can pursue their dreams of becoming doctors,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University.

Fairleigh Dickinson students will be eligible to apply for admission to the medical and veterinary schools at St. George’s University if they complete their undergraduate courses with a minimum cumulative 3.4 GPA and attain an MCAT score within five points of the average among SGU matriculants the previous term. Fairleigh Dickinson undergrads who have completed a minimum of 30 credits and met SGU’s admissions standards will be invited to interview.

Fairleigh Dickinson students seeking entry to the program will also have the opportunity to study abroad at St. George’s University during their undergraduate senior fall. They’ll be exposed to a wide range of science coursework and nursing clinical experience, be able to interact with SGU faculty and students, and experience a taste of life in Grenada.

Participants in the program will then either return to Fairleigh Dickinson to complete their degree or remain at St. George’s University to begin their medical or veterinary education with the January class. Those who opt for the latter will receive their bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson after completing their first medical or veterinary school term.

Fairleigh Dickinson joins a network of schools spanning 12 countries that have established similar partnerships with SGU, including 18 others in the United States.

“Our new partnership offers Fairleigh Dickinson students a unique opportunity to fast-track their entry into the physician workforce by working on their undergraduate and graduate medical degrees simultaneously,” Dr. Olds said.

Grenada Named “Destination of the Year” by Caribbean Journal

The sun rises over Grenada’s capital city of St. George’s.

Caribbean Journal has named Grenada as its 2017 Caribbean Destination of the Year, calling the Spice Isle “one of the region’s hottest places to visit.”

The Journal credited Grenada’s booming hotel development and a certain “x-factor” for earning its top billing in 2017. Visit caribbeanjournal.com to read more about the distinction and other travel award selections.

It is only the latest recognition for the island. In 2012, the Spice Isle took home two of Scuba Diving Magazine Reader’s Choice awards, finishing first in the Caribbean/Atlantic region in the “Advanced Diving” and “Wreck Diving” categories. A year later, National Geographic Traveler listed Grenada as one of its 20 “must-see places” to visit, calling its capital, St. George’s, “one of the prettiest towns in the Caribbean.”

Since 2008, Grenada has warmly welcomed thousands of visitors for St. George’s University bi-annual Family Weekend festivities, during which students’ families and friends get an insider’s look into life as an SGU student, learning about all that the campus and island have to offer.

Off-Duty MD Grad Treats Casualties During Las Vegas Shooting Tragedy

Adiofel Mark Mendoza, MD SGU ’14 (right), with family in Las Vegas

First he witnessed two ambulances screaming down Las Vegas Boulevard, and over the next five minutes or so, three or four more zoomed past. Adiofel Mark Mendoza, MD SGU ’14, thought it unusual for a Sunday night—even in Las Vegas, where he was wrapping up a five-day vacation with family.

Dr. Mendoza checked the local dispatcher feed and pieced together information on an active shooter situation just four blocks south—at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

That’s when he, like many off-duty service workers, sprung into action. Dr. Mendoza raced to the scene and helped set up a triage center for injured concert goers about 1,000 feet from the site of the tragedy. Over the next six to eight hours, he treated approximately 20 patients who had been injured during the massacre, which left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured.

Dr. Mendoza—who is a full-time hospitalist at Summit Medical Group in New Jersey—confessed that he feels fortunate to have been able to help, but upset that such an event required it.

“I was honored to be there,” he said. “I’m glad there was something that I could do, and that I had the training, unfortunately, that was needed.

“It was a group effort. It was amazing how people were just running up to us asking what they could do, how they could help – nurses who were off duty, EMTs, off-duty or retired law enforcement, ex-military. A lot of people saved a lot of lives and did more courageous things than I did.”

Upon learning of the active situation outside the Mandalay Bay, Dr. Mendoza took a cab as close to the site as he could get before approaching it on foot. En route, he encountered a young woman bleeding from her pelvis, and her boyfriend who had been shot in the shoulder. After providing immediate treatment, Dr. Mendoza flagged down two ambulances and directed the drivers to rush the couple to the nearest trauma center immediately.

He then boarded an ambulance and, amid the chaos, made his way to the main command center—a circle of approximately 30 ambulances and fire trucks on Las Vegas Boulevard that allowed medical personnel to safely treat casualties. Injured concert goers slowly began to trickle in, many on makeshift wheelchairs—office chairs that had been borrowed from nearby businesses. They were treated for both physical and mental trauma.

“Truthfully, it was like being in the emergency room, just on a mass scale,” he said. “It was like being on the job. I’ve gone through a range of emotions and when people asked me about what happened, I really didn’t know what to say. I’m just thankful that I was there and that could help out in some way.”

Dr. Mendoza had been exposed to high-level trauma cases during his clinical training in New York City, Newark, and Chicago. He joined Summit Health after completing his internal medicine residency at New York University Langone Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY this summer, and has his sights set on becoming a military doctor. He is currently in the middle of the review process to be commissioned in the United States Navy Reserves.

“During my training, I volunteered myself every time there was a trauma code because those are the cases I want to be involved in,” Dr. Mendoza said. I forced myself to be in those situations so I could desensitize myself and be in the right state of mind when I’m needed.”

“It’s very upsetting to see something like this,” he continued. “I don’t know how people could do this to each other. In the ER, you see accidents where people come in with broken bones and such, but this was intentional, and these were innocent people who just there on vacation. They in no way deserved this.”

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.”

Banner: Addressing Canada’s Rural Doctor Shortage

Sandra Banner

An opinion piece by Sandra Banner, former director of the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) and currently a consultant at St. George’s University, appeared in the Vancouver Sun on Sunday, June 25.

In it, Ms. Banner explained how medical schools such as SGU address the rural doctor shortage in Canada, citing a Canadian Institute of Health Information report that states that fewer than half of residents can secure same-day or next-day appointments with their family doctors.

“Canada’s leaders must act to reverse these shortages,” Ms. Banner wrote. “Doing so will require an aggressive effort by medical schools and governments to encourage more young people to consider careers in family medicine—careers that have an outsized impact on the health of Canadians.”

St. George’s University has graduated more than 1,300 Canadian doctors, more than 70 percent of which have entered a career in primary care. Read the entire opinion piece by visiting the Vancouver Sun website.

Visionary: Chancellor Charles Modica Receives Mike Fisher Memorial Award

Dr. Charles R. Modica, founder and Chancellor of St George’s University, has received the 2017 Mike Fisher Memorial Award at a ceremony in the House of Lords in London.

Forty years ago, Chancellor Modica saw an opportunity to provide an international education to talented prospective medical students. The Charter MD class matriculated in January 1977, and since then more than 14,000 MD graduates have gone on to practice medicine in a variety of disciplines the world over.

The Mike Fisher Award – given annually since 2006 – acknowledges the work of the late Mike Fisher, formerly of the pharmaceutical company, Merck, whose original research led to the discovery of the drug Ivermectin, which has spared 35 million people in developing countries from blindness and disfigurement and provided domestic animals and livestock with healthier lives.

The award was presented to Dr. Modica in recognition of his achievements in founding and developing St George’s University, from a single MD program four decades ago to a University offering more than 53 programs through its School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Graduate Studies, and School of Arts and Sciences. With students and faculty drawn from 140 countries, approximately 20 percent of SGU’s alumni come from Commonwealth countries, with many returning home to practice medicine. In total, Dr. Modica’s efforts have produced over 17,000 graduates in the field of medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health.

Many of these graduates have subsequently made enormous contributions to the field of One Health and are working and practicing in more than 50 countries worldwide.

“Dr. Modica’s vision and leadership over the last 40 years have significantly impacted the health and wellbeing of millions of people and animals on all continents,” the award citation states. “The value of this contribution to mankind cannot be overstated and epitomizes the key characteristics of the Mike Fisher Memorial Award.”

The award was presented at the fourth WINDREF Dinner at the House of Lords in the British Parliament by Baroness Howells of St. Davids, President of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), the research institute on St. George’s University’s True Blue campus.