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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Raise the Line podcast: SOM Dean speaks the language of medicine

What does it mean to speak the language of medicine? Dr. Marios Loukas, dean of St. George’s University School of Medicine, spoke with Dr. Rishi Desai about what it means to him on the podcast Raise the Line.

In the episode titled “Speaking the Language of Medicine,” Dr. Loukas provided insight on what he’s learned throughout his career as both a researcher and professor, and specifically by working for SGU, the largest provider of doctors to the US healthcare system. He also shared advice for those beginning their journey into medicine, and why he believes SGU’s approach to medical education has been and will continue to be key in helping to fill the gap of primary care physicians in the US.

As for how Dr. Loukas got to where he is now and why he’s chosen that path, he said: “Medicine, for me, it’s a way of living. You constantly have to be optimistic and love humanity. You need to really love what you do. Medicine is not about the money, the prestige, or the glory. It can be part, I think sometimes, of who we are, but it’s not the reason that 99% of the physicians chose that pathway. I think there is nothing more fulfilling than to ease the pain of a patient, or to see somebody who is sick be healthy again and continue their life and live for many, many years. I think that feeling is powerful and humbling at the same time.”



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A Doctor’s View Podcast: Alum shares his medical school experience

There are many questions surrounding international medical schools and what attending one means for a grad’s career outlook. Joshua Ramjist, MD ’11, knows something about that. He is a St. George’s University alum who developed his medical career in four different countries—the UK as part of the SGU/Northumbria University Program, in Grenada to complete his medical education, then on to the US for residency, and two research years in his native Canada.

To share his journey and provide answers to common questions regarding international medical school, Dr. Ramjist joined Dr. Paul Polyvios on the podcast A Doctor’s View in the episode titled “Studying medicine at an international university and working in the USA” to provide insight on his experience at St. George’s University and detail his career that followed.

As for Dr. Ramjist’s advice to those who hope to follow a path similar to his, he said: “It’s not for everyone. But for individuals who are open minded and really are excited to have this experience and are looking for a little bit of variability in their life, it’s one of the greatest experiences I’ve had.”



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SGU Featured in Article on High-Demand Medical Specialties

The United States is facing demand for more doctors across dozens of specialties. As a new article in outlines — “Five Medical Specialties That Need More Doctors” — internationally trained physicians will play an outsized role in meeting that growing need.

As author and admissions counselor Kristen Moon of Moon Prep writes, “Interestingly, graduates of international medical schools, including St. George’s, make up a disproportionate share of the doctors practicing in some of the specialties where demand will be greatest in the years to come. About one-fourth of doctors practicing in the United States today graduated from an international medical school..

As Dr. G. Richard Olds, the president of St. George’s University on the Caribbean island of Grenada, told Moon Prep, “Future doctors want to know where they can do the most good … We love helping students find their passion — and meet critical medical needs.”

Some specialties that face particularly concerning shortages are critical care, geriatrics, endocrinology, infectious disease, and psychiatry. This spring, SGU graduates matched into residencies in these specialties across the country.

For a full list of SGU’s 2022 residency matches, visit our website here.

Op-Ed: How International Medical Graduates Ease the Doctor Shortage

St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds was recently featured in the Naples Daily News.

In the op-ed, “International medical graduates ease the U.S. doctor shortage,” Dr. Olds shed light on the pressing doctor shortage facing America. He also highlighed how international medical graduates, like the thousands who graduate from SGU, can help close that gap.

“The United States desperately needs doctors,” Dr. Olds wrote. “According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, we could face a deficit of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034. The shortfall could cost as many as 7,000 lives a year.”

In addition, “zip codes with disproportionate shares of racial and ethnic minorities also tend to lack adequate access to doctors,” he added. “Black and Latino Americans are roughly twice as likely as their white peers to live in areas with few or no primary care providers.”

The statistics are daunting. But a solution lies in SGU’s own hallways: International medical graduates (IMGs) “tend to be the ones who head to high-need communities like these,”  accounting for more than two-thirds of doctors in areas of the US with high populations of ethnic and racial minorities, according to Dr. Olds.

“International medical graduates also gravitate to specialties in high demand. They account for more than half of doctors in geriatrics, where the shortage is yawning as the population ages. IMGs likewise account for outsized shares of the endocrinology, oncology, and cardiology workforces,” he wrote.


SGU President Offers Advice to Medical School Applicants in U.S. News & World Report

A recent article in U.S. News & World Report demystifies the challenge of getting into medical school, featuring insights from St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds.

The article, “Why Is It So Hard to Get Into Medical School?” breaks down why applying to medical school has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Overall, there has been an increase in medical school applicants without an equal increase in programs themselves. The situation is often daunting for prospective students.

According to Dr. Olds, few medical schools opened between the late 1970s and early 2000s, with very little expansion of med schools during that period thanks to an inaccurate but widely publicized labor market forecast projecting a doctor surplus. Meanwhile, the need for doctors in the U.S. was rapidly rising due to a growing and aging population.

“The aging is still going on despite losing a lot of older Americans to COVID,” he said, “Aging, by the way, is the biggest driver of our need for more physicians.”

The COVID pandemic has also exacerbated longstanding shortages of primary care physicians, Dr. Olds explained.

Despite current trends, the takeaway message for prospective students: Apply.

“Premeds who cast a wide net and apply to schools at a range of selectivity levels are the most likely to get accepted,” Dr. Olds said.


NCFMEA: SGU Med School Accreditor On Par With US Schools 

St. George’s University School of Medicine’s accrediting body, the Grenada Medical and Dental Council (GMDC), was recently reviewed by the US National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA) and determined to use standards that are “comparable to the standards used to accredit medical schools in the United States” such as the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). 

SGU’s accreditation by the GMDC helps prioritize student success by assuring access to federal loans and licensing exams, as well as the opportunity for graduates to apply for licensure to practice in the US. In choosing the GMDC as its accreditor, SGU is no longer accredited with the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP). 

Throughout our 45-year history as a leader in international medical education—and with the guidance of such accreditors as the GMDC—we have held ourselves to the highest standards of academic excellence,” said Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor at St. George’s University. “Our mission remains to help each and every student realize their dream of becoming a physician, one who is highly skilled, compassionate, and inspired to provide high-quality care in whatever field or community they choose.” 


The impact that St. George’s University graduates have had on healthcare reaches every corner of the world, from the largest cities to the smallest towns.”


During its reviews, NCFMEA measures accrediting bodies based on the following criteria: analysis of admission process, curriculum, faculty qualifications, student and graduate achievement, basic science and clinical training facilities, and academic support. For complete details on NCFMEA accrediting guidelines, visit the NCFMEA website. 

St. George’s University is the largest source of physicians for the entire US workforce, with more than 12,000 graduates licensed to practice in the US in 2020. For the last 12 years combined, SGU has been the number one provider of new doctors to first-year residency programs, spanning a wide range of states and specialties. 

“The impact that St. George’s University graduates have had on healthcare reaches every corner of the world, from the largest cities to the smallest towns,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of SGU. “They have made this indelible mark on the lives of so many individuals, families, and communities. By aligning our education with the high standards of the GMDC, we as a University look forward to providing the next generation of SGU graduates with knowledge and skills they need to continue that tradition.”

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