School of Medicine Grad Featured in AMSA’s The New Physician

St. George's University campus, sunset view

Earning an MD from a Caribbean medical school offers several benefits to future physicians, and St. George’s University alum Joshua Ramjist, MD ’11, is sharing his advice for those weighing the pros and cons of attending an institution outside of the United States.  

“My advice? Go for it, but do your research first,” according to an editorial written by the pediatric surgery fellow in the Spring issue of the American Medical Student Association’s The New Physician.  

Titled, “A Global Education Helped Me Become a Better Doctor It Can Do the Same for You,” Dr. Ramjist shared his positive experience as a student at St. George’s University and why he chose to attend a Caribbean medical school.  


Among the reasons he is glad he went to SGU, in his words: 

  • A truly international education: A diverse array of classmates led to learning about different cultures and their healthcare systems. 
  • Global clinical experience: Dr. Ramjist spent his first year of medical school in Newcastle, UK thanks to a partnership between SGU and Northumbria University (he spent his second year in Grenada); he traveled to Thailand to participate in a two-week long selective; and completed rotations and ultimately matching in Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.  
  • The ability to practice anywhere in the world: SGU gave him the tools needed to pass licensing exams not just in the US but in other countries.  


“Many medical school hopefuls may not consider Caribbean medical schools. But that can be a mistake. Caribbean schools can offer a truly global education, and open up a path to practicing medicine in the United States or Canada.”

Dr. Ramjist added that prospective students need to do their research before committing to a school, looking at things like residency placement and licensing exam pass rates; how well a school supports students in their journey both academically and non-academically; scholarship/financial aid opportunities; and accreditation, among other aspects.  

All that said, today, Dr. Ramjist, MD, MSc, MBA, FRCS(C) practices in the division of general and thoracic surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. In 2019, he was named as the Maimonides Medical Center Department of Surgery’s Chief Resident of the Decade.  

“My international education has allowed me to better care for patients of different backgrounds and identities. I can relate to their experiences when I’m at their bedside. And I see them not just for the disease they have but as a whole person, culture and all,” he said. “For these reasons, I’d encourage any student considering a Caribbean medical school to take the leap.” 


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Class of 2023 Encouraged Toward a Life of Integrity and Service

Although the morning rain showers threatened to spoil the day, the St. George’s University Schools of Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies Class of 2023 beamed with pride and gratitude. The sun shone brightly on the True Blue campus as they received their degrees on Saturday, May 20 at the Grenada Commencement Ceremony.



Both a faculty member and a student at SGU, this year’s SGS class speaker Rachqueda Salfarlie wasn’t the only one in her family graduating that day. She shared this special milestone with her siblings, Neisha and Marvin Salfarlie, graduating with a Master of Education in curriculum pedagogy and leadership and a Bachelor of Science in management, respectively.

Neisha Salfarlie (left), Rachqueda Salfarlie (middle), and Marvin Salfarlie (right)

“This day is meaningful because I get to share it with my family,” said Ms. Salfarlie, who graduated with her third degree from SGU, a Master of Education in curriculum, pedagogy, and leadership. “My son, Xavier, will see me graduate for the first time. My siblings, Neisha and Marvin Salfarlie are also graduating here today. I am so happy that my parents, partner, and other siblings are in the audience to share in my joy.”

Joining Ms. Salfarlie as a commencement speaker was SAS valedictorian Tamara Marryshow. Ms. Marryshow completed her Bachelor of Science in business and accounting with a perfect 4.0 GPA and is currently employed by a company that recently appointed her to the position of business director. Being the first to achieve a college degree in her family is what Ms. Marryshow considers her greatest achievement—one that is as much her family’s as hers.

“I urge you always to take a moment to reflect on your successes, whether big or small,” Ms. Marryshow encouraged her fellow graduands. “For after looking back on all you’ve accomplished, how can you not be inspired to move forward? Today, we are celebrating because this academic journey has adequately prepared us for our next big milestone, one that will be more challenging but equally rewarding.”



Echoing the valedictorian’s sentiments was Professor, The Most Honorable Violet Eudine Barriteau, who addressed the more than 200 graduates from 34 countries in a keynote speech that was both poignant and topical as it focused on the theme of creating an exceptional professional life defined by service and integrity.

Professor Barriteau, a Grenadian-born Caribbean feminist scholar and activist, has a distinguished record of accomplishments and is a pioneer in women’s educational leadership. She is the first woman appointed pro-vice chancellor at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus and the first to become principal of two campuses at The UWI.

“On this glorious morning, as you embrace your future, wherever you go in life, always operate with these principles,” counseled Professor Barriteau. “The mutuality of respect, the reciprocity of accountability, the imperative of social justice, of course inclusive of gender justice, and a dedication to integrity and service. Go forth and conquer Grenada and the region. I congratulate you!”

Ceremonies for the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will take place at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on June 3-4.

– Ray-Donna Peters

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5 tips when applying to international medical schools: SGU featured in Forbes article

What do aspiring doctors need to know when considering which international medical schools to apply to? A recent Forbes article shared crucial insight and advice for prospective international medical students.

While it’s no secret that medical school admission rates, particularly at US schools, are lower than ever—just 38% of applicants received an acceptance letter last year—aspiring doctors shouldn’t let these numbers discourage them from pursuing their dreams, the article stated.

US medical schools are not the only pathway to a career in medicine: international medical schools have proven a viable option, while still allowing the physician to practice medicine in the US.

“International medical schools tend to look not just at a student’s MCAT score, GPA or shadowing hours,” St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds shared in the article. “We seek out qualified, well-rounded individuals who may not fit the traditional mold of a pre-med student because we know that their diverse experiences can make them exceptional doctors.”

Still it’s important to do your research before applying to any international medical school. Here are five key key criteria to keep in mind.

    • A university’s average GPA and MCAT scores of incoming students;
    • Financial aid availability;
    • A school’s accreditation status;
    • Curriculum that is styled after US medical schools;
    • Research and clinical opportunities.

Adding to the criteria listed, Dr. Olds recommends students investigate an institution’s USMLE pass rate and residency placement rate.

“A student’s future career as a doctor really starts with their medical school decision,” Olds said. “There are so many quality medical school options out there. Students just need to do their research to find them.”





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SGU President Dr. Richard Olds addresses physician shortage in Q&A with Healio

In an article published by Healio, St. George’s University President Dr. Richard Olds addresses how international medical graduates can help solve the primary care physician shortage in the US. During the interview, Dr. Olds provides insight into the conditions that caused the shortage and how it has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID has also made this shortage worse since most primary care doctors support themselves in the outpatient area, and during the first year of the pandemic, about 10% of physicians closed their practices permanently,” Dr. Olds stated in the article. “Indeed, by 2034, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the US will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians.”

While the problem is growing, there are potential solutions, including educating more international medical graduates. International medical graduates are more likely to practice primary care in areas where the need for physicians is greatest, such as the rural US, and can offer the quality care needed to close the gap.

“Because U.S. medical school grads are not going into primary care or practicing in rural areas in large numbers, many international medical graduates have filled that gap,” according to Dr. Olds. “About 40% of the primary care doctors in the U.S. trained outside the states. At my university, 75% of our grads go into primary care fields while 25% specialize.”

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SAS Alum Wins Grenada’s Groovy Monarch Competition

Growing up, life for Rashid “Cryave” Julliene, BSc ’21 was not an easy one. However, he credits the love and support of his family for pushing him toward higher education and his musical aspirations.

Wanting to be able to produce his own music, as well as perform it, Mr. Julliene applied to St. George’s University to complete a bachelor’s degree in information technology.

Later, he would emerge onto the Grenadian soca music scene in 2019—positioning himself as a force to be reckoned with by placing fourth in the 2019 National Groovy Monarch competition with his hit selection “Genie Lover”.

In 2022, he followed up that hit with another Groovy smasher entitled “Unbothered,” which he would go on to perform and win the crown at this year’s National Groovy Monarch competition in August.

Currently, Mr. Julliene is part of a delegation traveling to Trinidad and Tobago to represent Grenada’s culture and heritage and the traditional aspect of carnival. He sat down with SGU News to share about his recent victory and how his IT degree from SGU ties into his bigger musical dreams.

St. George’s University: Why did you choose to pursue music? And who influenced your decision?

Rashid Julliene: I love the process of creating music, putting it out into the world, and the reaction I get from people when I do. Music to me is a universal language. It’s something that you can speak even if there’s a language barrier. It is the universal communicator that everyone understands. I sometimes listen to music from different languages that I don’t even understand, but I still get it.

My mom has had the biggest influence on my decision to pursue music. The first time I ever performed was because of her. She recognized my talent very early on and she told me that if I love music, I should never miss an opportunity to perform. She encouraged me to show people what I could do and that helped develop my confidence.

SGU: You were recently crowned Grenada’s National Groovy Monarch, tell us what that experience was like? How did you feel when you won?

RJ: It was bittersweet when I won that title. I was extremely elated of course, but my mom was not there to see me win. So, I was also a bit sad, especially considering how much she’s influenced me to pursue my dream of performing my music. That experience was an emotional moment for me and one that I will remember forever.

SGU: You studied information technology at SGU, describe the link between that degree and your musical aspirations?

RJ: Studying IT at SGU was a no brainer for me. Music has become very technological over the years. And in my eyes a complete musician is someone who can not only sing the music but produce it as well. Earning a degree in IT has gotten me one step closer to achieving my dreams, especially since I already had the natural singing talent so putting those two together just made sense.


“University life isn’t easy and there’s lots of challenges, but SGU prepared me for that aspect of life because life also isn’t easy and is filled with challenges too. SGU allowed me to become more self-aware and helped me to focus, specialize, and build a career.”


SGU: How well do you feel that SGU prepared you for the next step in your journey?

RJ: While attending SGU I met some of my closest friends and was surrounded by staff and faculty that were extremely supportive. During my time there I joined several student organizations including the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Management Information Systems and Information Technology Association (MISIT). I even joined a biology group just because I wanted to meet new people and try new things outside of my field of interest. University life isn’t easy and there’s lots of challenges, but SGU prepared me for that aspect of life because life also isn’t easy and is filled with challenges too. SGU allowed me to become more self-aware and helped me to focus, specialize, and build a career.

SGU: What advice would you give to prospective students who are considering applying to SGU?

RJ: Your heart has to be in it, and it has to be something that you really want to do and not just what your parents want you to do. That’s the only way you’re going to overcome the challenges that SGU is going to throw at you. You’re only going to be willing to do the extra things and go the extra mile if you’re interested in what you’re doing. My advice would be to choose something that you’re passionate about and focus on what you want to achieve and let that be your guiding light.

SGU: What is one of your greatest accomplishments you’ve achieved in your career so far?

RJ: It would have to be, me being crowned the National Groovy Monarch. Hands down this was the biggest stage I’ve ever performed on and the biggest moment of my career so far. I’m looking forward to many more moments like that one.

– Ray-Donna Peters

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President Emeritus Dr. Richard Olds shares a potential solution to the US physician shortage

In an article published by the American Medical Student Association in The New Physician, Dr. Richard Olds, president emeritus at St. George’s University, provides insight on the physician shortage in the US and shares how international medical graduates, like those from SGU, can help solve it.

In the article, Dr. Olds breaks the problem down by the numbers. He conveys that by 2034, the US population will increase by about 10 percent, with the number of older people rising by 40 percent. Those growing older include doctors, states Dr. Olds. Approximately two in five doctors will reach retirement age by that same year, complicating the shortage even more.

But all is not lost according to Dr. Olds. While US medical schools have low acceptance rates, some at just three percent, international medical schools provide a substantial number of qualified doctors to the US. The number of practicing international medical graduates increased by 18 percent since 2010 according to the American Medical Association. This number is expected to continue to swell and could be the key to solving the physician shortage.



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How international medical school graduates can solve the physician shortage in their hometowns

Sammie Gutierrez, MD ’22, is only one of the many St. George’s University School of Medicine graduates who are returning to their hometowns to help solve the ongoing physician shortage.  Dr. Gutierrez hopes is a first-year family medicine resident in Tennessee, one of the states expected to be hardest hit by this shortage according to the National Institutes of Health.

In a recent article published by the Commercial Appeal, Dr. Gutierrez speaks about her experience as an international medical student and why she chose to return to her hometown of Memphis after receiving her medical degree.

“When I was thinking, ‘where can you practice and really make an impact?’ Memphis is such a good city for that because we have this wealth gap. And we have such a large population of people that live at or below the poverty level, and they need family care doctors,” said Dr. Guiterrez in her quoted statement.

Dr. Richard Olds, president emeritus at SGU, is also quoted in the article explaining the need for international medical graduates like Dr. Guiterrez in the United States. He speaks about the need to recruit doctors who not only have excellent exam scores and grades but who also can connect with patients and belong to underserved and underrepresented populations.

“Until the United States builds enough medical schools for its own needs, and probably more important in the short run, builds more graduate medical education slots…we’re going to continue to have a fairly significant shortage,” Dr. Olds said in his quoted statement. “So this situation is going to get considerably worse. And obviously, international medical graduates are going to have to fill the void.”

To read more, please find the subscriber-access-only article below.



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SGU faculty collaborate on groundbreaking cattle vaccine research

A group of scientists from St. George’s University, Kansas State University, and the Animal Diseases Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture have made a groundbreaking development in vaccine research with a new study conducted on cattle.

Bovine Anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease, wreaks havoc on the cattle industry every year. It’s historically been treated with antibiotics, but in a new study published in PLOS Pathogens, another solution is presented.

“It’s a very significant pathogen. It causes weight loss, anemia, and even death in cattle which results in billions of economic losses in the cattle industry worldwide, whether it’s beef or dairy,” said Dr. Melinda Wilkerson, professor and chair of pathobiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine at SGU. “This group of researchers basically knocked out a gene that was important for growth so that they could immunize cattle.”

The technique is the first of its kind and has potential implications for treating infections in other animals like dogs, or even humans, who are also impacted by tick-borne diseases.

“The research found that when the cattle were exposed to the field organism through the vaccine, it was able to protect the animals from future exposure,” added Dr. Wilkerson. “That is very significant because any vaccines out now are ineffective. This is the start of a new method.”


“This research paves the way for vaccine development for tick-borne diseases, specifically bovine anaplasmosis. The impact will be incredibly significant, and our team at SGU is proud to have been a part of it.”


The first author of the research, Dr. Paidashe Hove, is supported by SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine through the Postdoctoral Scholars Program (PSP). The program provides financial support and resources to researchers and has resulted in a strong collaboration between SGU and universities like Kansas State.

“The PSP has funded two postdocs in the KSU-SGU collaboration,” said Dr. Roman Ganta, university distinguished professor of KSU’s Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, a visiting professor at SGU, and senior investigator of this research. “The SGU-funded PSP scientists published three high-quality peer-reviewed scientific publications, while additional manuscripts are in progress.”

While Dr. Hove and Dr. Ganta were the primary and senior investigators of the project, SGU SVM faculty including Dr. Wilkerson; Dr. Bhumika Sharma, assistant professor of pathobiology; and Dr. Andy Alhassan, associate professor of pathobiology—and a previous PSP candidate who worked alongside Dr. Ganta—have established longstanding relationships that contributed to the success of advancing several collaborative research projects, primarily focused on tick-borne diseases.

“This is a clear demonstration that the PSP is an ideal means of expanding the scope of research at SGU,” said Dr. Wilkerson. “Such collaborations also provide visibility to SGU SVM as an institution that is actively engaged in collaborative research on a global scale.”

As for what’s next for the research conducted by Dr. Hove, Dr. Ganta, and the team, Dr. Wilkerson says this is just the beginning.

“This research paves the way for vaccine development for tick-borne diseases, specifically bovine anaplasmosis. The impact will be incredibly significant, and our team at SGU is proud to have been a part of it,” Dr. Wilkerson said.

—Sarah Stoss


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Grad Performs Life-Changing Heart Surgery for 9-Year-Old Ukrainian

Photo courtesy of Catholic Health – St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center®

Dr. Sean Levchuck is a 1989 St. George’s University graduate.

One of St. George’s University’s very own alumni came through during a time of need for a 9-year-old girl from Ukraine, performing life-changing heart surgery free of charge.

Through the Gift of Life program, Sean Levchuck, MD ’89, the chair of pediatric cardiology at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, NY, performed a non-invasive Amplatzer ASD Occluder procedure that closed a hole in the child’s heart.

“It is always a special day when you can give an assist to someone who is struggling through tough times,” said Dr. Levchuck, according to the news article featured on Catholic Health’s website. “It’s especially great given the circumstances that surround this little girl’s case. She comes to St. Francis from a country that is in pieces and going through the worst of times. I know I speak for the whole team when I say how honored, blessed, and grateful we are to be given the opportunity to help this beautiful child live a long and healthy life.”


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SGS Student Addresses Safety and Health in Grenada’s Workplace

In an article published by The Grenadian Voice, Nesta Edwards, Master of Public Health student at St. George’s University describes the need to address occupational safety and health concerns in Grenada’s construction industry in honor of World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

In her article, Ms. Edwards suggests proactive measures are necessary to increase the importance of occupational safety and health in developing awareness, and reducing the occurrence of occupational injuries, diseases, and death. She proposes that a good place to start would be to establish health and safety best practices in the workforce and to teach workers about the importance of compliance in relation to the country’s economic growth and sustainable development through education and training.

According to Ms. Edwards, a recent report by the International Labor Organization revealed that an estimated 2.3 million workers around the world succumb to work-related accidents or diseases every year. She acknowledges that although the number of occupational injuries, diseases and death are significantly less for Grenada, a complacent attitude is highly discouraged. She proports that safety and health at work is everyone’s business and that identifying potential hazards in the workplace is a crucial factor in improving workplace safety and health practices, which aids in promoting population health and well-being, and improved productivity which in turn fosters economic growth.




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