Hospitalist Serves as “Gatekeeper” for Patient Care at Premier Medical Centers

Philip Manners, MD ’11, calls hospitalists the “gatekeepers to the hospital,” and as an attending physician at three acclaimed hospitals in the United States, he’s in a unique position to assess and implement the strengths of each department in each location.

“It’s like you’re a project manager for the patient. You really have to know how each hospital department works,” said Dr. Manners, who splits his time between UCLA Health, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins Medicine. “You have to look at the entire picture and view the patient as a whole. A sub-specialist can provide invaluable input very specific to their field of practice, but it’s up to the hospitalist to collect and assess all the available information, problem-solve conflicting recommendations, and unify the plan. Then the hospitalist can implement a cohesive plan that ultimately provides the most benefit to the patient.”

And in addition to his clinical duties, Dr. Manners is on faculty at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is a major in the US Army Reserve.

The native Brit shared how he juggles his responsibilities and how his role emphasizes adaptability and communication, no matter where he’s seeing patients.

SGU: What about being a hospitalist have you enjoyed most?

Dr. Manners: I like helping sicker patients. That’s not to say that I like people to be sicker, but I like taking care of people with a higher acuity that require more complex management and a higher level of care. The challenges are greater, but that’s what makes it more rewarding when you have a successful outcome and make a positive difference to a patient’s life.

Even though I trained in full-spectrum family medicine, I find the inpatient side more satisfying. You can really see the difference you make unfold in front of you. It affords you more time with the patient, whereas in primary care, there’s always a battle of time and not having enough of it. With hospital medicine, you have more breathing room to really get your teeth into the patient’s problems.

 

“Being able to see the difference between the three hospitals is also intriguing. In a lot of ways, the job is fundamentally the same. The medicine is the same. But the systems and processes can vary widely.”

SGU: What kind of person is best fit for a hospitalist role?

Dr. Manners: To be a hospitalist, you have to be comfortable with patients who do have that higher acuity. If they’re sick enough to be in the hospital, there’s usually a complicated mix of problems and comorbidities. Also, you must be able to adapt to situations that can change quickly. One minute you can be dealing with a patient who is stable and ready for discharge, and the next you can be walking into a rapid response or a code. There are two ends of the spectrum there. Emergency medicine is similar to this, but the main difference with hospital medicine is you get follow the patient’s journey and see the progress they make. If you like the higher acuity, and the continuity of care, then hospital medicine is probably a better fit for you.

SGU: You were at Massachusetts General Hospital when the COVID-19 pandemic began. What was your role there?

Dr. Manners: I was in the middle of my disaster medicine fellowship at that time so, on the one hand, it was great because I could practice what I was training for, but on the other, the reality of a global pandemic was terrifying. Most hospitals have a small set of rooms that can accommodate airborne isolation, and we started off using those. We were implementing similar isolation procedures like we did for SARS and MERS. With COVID though, it soon became apparent that the isolation rooms were going to run out quickly, as did the PPE.

It’s a huge undertaking to upend a hospital’s entire standard operating procedures. The hospital incident command system kicked in and we essentially had to rewrite how the hospital was going to function. The hospitalists were at the forefront of this because we were the ones who were getting the COVID patients. We ended up converting entire medical and surgical floors into COVID-only floors, and oncology rooms were converted to make COVID ICU rooms. It was fascinating to see it evolve and to be on the front line of that. It was something that you read about, and try to prepare for, but hope you never have to actually experience.

SGU: You work at three locations on two coasts in the US. How is that experience unique?

Dr. Manners: One reason that I like working in large academic medical institutions is that you have access to a large range of sub-specialty care and resources—things that are on the cutting edge of medicine. I’m humbled to be learning from leaders in their respective fields. Being able to see the difference between the three hospitals is also intriguing. In a lot of ways, the job is fundamentally the same. The medicine is the same. But the systems and processes can vary widely. By identifying the things that work well—and don’t work well—at each hospital, I can use that information to refine and improve the care I give.

SGU: How was your experience as an SGU student?

Dr. Manners: I absolutely loved my time on the island. One major benefit of going to Grenada is that medical school became your whole world. You live and breathe SGU. Your classmates become your family. You forge close friendships by going through it together, and I don’t think you would develop those types of bonds and relationships in a US or UK medical school setting.

And then in clinicals, we had the opportunity to experience a large variety of clinical settings, in a range of geographical locations, where we had different resources, different patient populations, and learned different ways to practice medicine. It enabled me to become a very adaptable and open-minded physician.

I always tell people that medical school was the best experience of my life. I would go back and do it all again in a heartbeat.

– Brett Mauser

Related Reading

Residency success 101: How to ace your application, interview, and first day on the job

With residency application season in full swing, it’s both an exciting and nervous time for medical students. There’s so much to do to plan your next step, and all that has to get done while finishing up medical school.

Three St. George’s University graduates who, as residency directors at their respective hospitals, know the ins and outs of the entire process. They shared some helpful tips on how students can stand out—from their application all the way through their residency years.

The panel:

  • Dorian Alexander, MD ’10, residency director, Department of Critical Care Emergency Medicine, Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
  • Amber Billet, MD ’12, residency director, Department of Emergency Medicine, WellSpan Health, York, PA
  • Panagiota Korenis, MD ’08, residency director, Department of Psychiatry, BronxCare Health System, Bronx, NY

St. George’s University: What is the most important thing that students should know or do during the application process?

Dr. Korenis: Time management is critical. If you get your CV or personal statement done early on, it will save you a lot of headaches during the summertime when you’re very busy studying for your Step 2 exam or trying to get letters of recommendation sorted out.

Students also need to find letters of recommendation writers during their rotations. Faculty, especially teaching faculty, are very used to having students ask them for LORs, so don’t be shy during your rotations when they know you the best and you’re doing your best work with them. If you wait until the last minute or after some time passes, that can sometimes lead to less descriptive letters.

Dr. Billet: Metrics often drive the application process. By the sheer volume of applications that they get, a lot of program directors will just simply filter applicants out by a numeric score. We don’t do that—I have three assistant program directors and we look at every single application without applying any filters. But a lot of program directors do it just for the sake of time. So first and foremost, to really stand out, you have to maintain an exceptional GPA during your preclinical years, and secondly, score above average on the USMLE Step 1.

Dr. Alexander: Represent yourself on paper in such a way that programs are interested in pulling out your application from the hundreds or thousands of applications they receive. That prioritization starts well before the application season. It starts with preparation for your boards. You must have competitive board exam scores for specialty for which you’re applying. That doesn’t mean in the 280s or 290s, but I recommend that you score 240 or above to stand out. You must also emphasize your letters of recommendation, which helps us know who you are as a student based on the eyes on the ground in your electives or core rotations.

SGU: What’s your best tip for acing residency interviews?

Dr. Alexander: The interview is probably the largest weighted factor of the entire application process because it really helps us identify who you are and where you want to go in this specialty. Seeing that you’ve taken the time to learn who you are going to be caring for and learning from over the course of your residency, that is a really good impression to make. It lets us know that the person is serious about us because they care about what we care about.

Dr. Korenis: You’re interviewing for a job, so you’ve got to do your homework. It’s critical that you look at the program’s website and see what their mission statement is, do a PubMed search on the faculty you’ll be interviewing with to see if they’ve published papers, and go into each interview with questions. Also, with virtual interviews, you really need to do your best to ensure that you have good lighting, a good background, and that you have a camera-ready presence. Videotape yourself ahead of time and have a colleague or a friend look it over to see how you’re doing.

Dr. Billet: In addition to being prepared, I like to see an applicant who has demonstrated resilience. The personal statement gives us a glimpse into who the person is. Every applicant has a different background personally, academically, and professionally. Those who have overcome challenges show a quality of resilience that oftentimes in residency is essential.

“Every applicant has a different background personally, academically, and professionally. Those who have overcome challenges shows a quality of resilience that oftentimes in residency is essential.”

SGU: What qualities are you looking for in a residency candidate?

Dr. Billet: The residents who will excel in our program or any program are the ones who are self-motivated and driven to push themselves to their highest potential, and have demonstrated that.

Dr. Alexander: We want people who have qualities of excellent work, are hardworking, and demonstrate consistency. Residency is not a sprint. To have that sustainable consistency of excellent work, it takes effort. Understanding that effort and identifying individuals who are willing to put in that effort is extremely important.

Dr. Korenis: Curiosity, flexibility, and the understanding that residency is like an apprenticeship that’s going to involve a lot of individual learning. You’re getting a lot of experiential training and you also have to have the aptitude to study while you work. For us, it’s critical to see a paper trail that shows genuine interest in the field and program that you’re applying as well as a paper trail of scholarly activity.

SGU: What should a new resident do on day one?

Dr. Alexander: Everyone thinks that on the first day on the job, you need to have all the answers and see a lot of patients. That’s not what we expect from you. All we expect is enthusiasm, someone who’s willing to learn, who’s interested in getting to know the environment that they’re working in, and loves what they’re doing. We want people who will engross themselves into this environment system and make it their home.

Dr. Korenis: Nobody in any program is expecting you to know how to be an internist, a psychiatrist, or a surgeon on your first day. Our job is to help you on this journey. Just do your best to get to work early to get a lay of the land, to eat breakfast, and to calm some of your nerves. Also, take time during that day to communicate with a loved one or a friend to check in and give yourself a little bit of a break.

Dr. Billet: Greet everybody with a smile and introduce yourself to everyone on the staff. In our department, there are nurses, nursing techs, patient care advocates, social workers, physical therapists, and many others. The residents who do are true team players and go out of their way to establish those strong working relationships early.

SGU: From your perspective, what makes a good resident?

Dr. Billet: The residents who are most successful are those who aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it. Asking for help and recognizing when you need help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. The other thing is communication. Residency can be a roller coaster. It is extremely rewarding but also very challenging. That’s why communication with your attendings, your residency leadership team, and even your friends and family, to help support you and get you through this process is very important.

Dr. Korenis: A good resident is a team player, someone who is highly ethical and professional, and shows up every day with a positive attitude. A good resident doesn’t cut corners, they do their job thoroughly, and take their time to get to know their patients. And lastly, in times of stress, they rise to action and come up with solutions for their unique situation.

Dr. Alexander: A good resident is a person you want to work with every day. They care for their patients, they have a strong work ethic, they have a good drive, they are teachable, and they make a positive impact in the clinical environment. There are also the intangibles. Is this person nice? Is this person funny? Is this person caring? Is this someone who, when it’s three am, someone I could sit down with and have a conversation. Is this person someone who I want to have by my side when things go awry? Those are the intangibles that are all-encompassing of a person’s character, worth, and personality.

– Brett Mauser

Related Reading

School of Medicine Dean Wins Award for Co-Authoring Medical Textbook

St. George’s University School of Medicine Dean Dr. Marios Loukas was among a group of experts who won an award from the British Medical Association (BMA) for their medical imaging textbook, “Weir & Abrahams’ Imaging Atlas of Human Anatomy.”

The textbook, which offers a “complete and three-dimensional understanding of applied human anatomy,” won in the category of Basic and Clinical Sciences and Research. Dr. Loukas was one of six co-authors who provided their expertise.

“It is an honor to receive this award by the British Medical Association,” Dr. Loukas said. “I can’t think of a better resource in which to offer my knowledge of human anatomy than medical literature used by doctors-in-training—here at SGU and around the world.”

Published by Elsevier Ltd., the textbook is available on ClinicalKey Student, an online resource for students to access over 100 top medical textbooks, USMLE style practice questions, personalized study toolkits, and more. ClinicalKey is in a phased rollout for all School of Medicine students.

“Digital imaging is integral to anatomy education and throughout modern medicine,” Dr. Loukas said. “The textbook provides a solid understanding of applied human anatomy and uses the latest imaging techniques to offer a comprehensive view of the structures and relationships throughout the body—knowledge that is crucial for students who are studying to become doctors to master.”

Dr. Loukas was appointed dean of the School of Medicine in early 2021, after having spent the six previous years as the school’s dean of basic sciences. He started his tenure at SGU in 2007 as a course director and served as chair and professor of SOM’s Department of Anatomical Sciences from 2008 to 2015.

The BMA medical book awards take place annually to recognize outstanding contributions in medical literature across more than a dozen categories.

 

–  Laurie Chartorynsky

Related Reading

 

SGU alumni rally around Grenada amid COVID pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic put Grenada back on its heels, St. George’s University alumni put their best foot forward, bringing hope to their one-time home and setting the country on a promising path.

In the span of mere weeks, more than 200 School of Medicine alumni have volunteered their medical services, helped to procure all-important supplies, and contributed more than $70,000 through its newly created Grenada Medical Assistance GoFundMe page.

The Grenada COVID Crisis Group (GCCG), led by SGU graduates Michele Friday, MD ’88, Dwight Matthias, MD ’92, and Lisa Radix, MD ’97, has spearheaded the campaign—facilitating in-person and online patient care and crowdsourcing both funds and supplies that will help healthcare workers on the ground treat those who have contracted the virus. In addition, they aspire to educate the Grenadian community about the benefits of adhering to health protocols and, above all else, they support the COVID-19 vaccine in the population to flatten the curve, lessen the effects of recurring COVID infections, and lessen the burden of long COVID syndrome in recovering patients.

While addressing COVID-19, Dr. Friday hopes that the support received in recent weeks is the start of a long-term healthcare solution in Grenada.

“This pandemic has given us an opportunity to impact the healthcare of our fellowmen and families on the island and has imparted in us the vision to continue with the existing momentum to grow a stellar medical environment in Grenada,” said Dr. Friday, an interventional cardiologist based in Kentucky. “We hope that this medical ideal that we are striving towards, is something that each and every one of our Grenada-trained doctors—who have been educated at SGU, live in Grenada, or who work off island but are Grenadian in heart—would be proud of.”

Raised in Richmond Hill, St. George’s, Dr. Friday is one of more than 60 Grenada-born physicians who have rallied to support their home country. Three grads—Philip Bonaparte, MD ’89, Molara Alexis, MD ’05, and Carina David, MD ’16—arrived on island last week to begin working with local doctors, nurses, and staff.

VIDEO: Dr. Alexis and Dr. David speak about COVID-19 vaccines in Grenada

“I felt that it was important to help in a meaningful way, with the reduction in the workforce as some members contacted COVID-19, the likely possibility of fatigue due to an increased volume of work related to the surge, and the opportunity to provide moral support to frontline workers,” said Dr. Alexis. “As an infectious disease physician, I was keen to share any knowledge and experience with my colleagues in Grenada and to continue to educate the general population regarding the importance of vaccination.”

They’ll also work on building up the telemedicine infrastructure so that hundreds of SGU graduates can provide personal care from afar. The network of volunteers spans a variety of specialties, including infectious disease, pulmonology, pediatrics, cardiology, and emergency medicine.

Supplies in demand

The wide alumni network has procured hospital supplies that specifically address needs in Grenada General Hospital and other clinics. These supplies—which began arriving in late September—include much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) and oxygenation equipment, as well as pharmaceutical support such as monoclonal antibodies, antibiotics, and steroids.

The GCCG GoFundMe page has secured donations from more than 400 alumni and friends of SGU. These funds will be used to secure additional medications, supplies, and equipment to be sent to Grenada. GCCG is working closely with the Ministry of Health to monitor existing supply levels and secure fortifications as needed.

“You feel like you’re connected to a bigger thing that’s about to surround Grenada with all the love and help they can think of providing,” said Dr. Radix, a nephrologist who was born and raised in St. George and attended Anglican High School. “It’s great to be part of a group that has such an innate love for Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique.”

 

“As an infectious disease physician, I was keen to share any knowledge and experience with my colleagues in Grenada and to continue to educate the general population regarding the importance of vaccination.”

Dr. Matthias, who was raised in Belmont, St. George’s, added: “My colleagues, Dr. Friday and Dr. Radix, clearly epitomize the SGU alumni and have illuminated the spirit of Grenada national anthem—’we pledge ourselves… heads, hearts, and hands in unity…  As one people, one family.’ I’m so appreciative of the fellow alumni who have extended helping hands and made generous donations.”

Graduate contributions are part of a larger effort from the entire SGU community to provide care, spread information, and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Working with the Government of Grenada, SGU faculty members have stepped up to volunteer in the Government’s most recent initiative—hosting mobile testing and vaccination clinics throughout the island. Students have also mobilized in response to the call for help, volunteering at testing and vaccination sites hosted by the Ministry of Health.

– Brett Mauser

 

Related Reading

 

Dr. Carina David

SOM students mobilize to assist with COVID crisis in Grenada

Over the past several weeks, SGU students heeded the call to help those in need by volunteering at mobile testing and vaccination clinics organized by Grenada’s Ministry of Health (MOH) across the island. Photo courtesy of Ministry of Health.

The increase in COVID-19 cases in Grenada has mobilized St. George’s University School of Medicine students to use their passion for medicine and acquired skills toward helping their beloved host country and its communities. Over the past several weeks, many aspiring physicians heeded the call to help those in need by volunteering at mobile testing and vaccination clinics organized by Grenada’s Ministry of Health (MOH) across the island.

“I could not have leaped up fast enough at the opportunity to assist in combatting COVID-19 in Grenada, not only to act in my capacity as an epidemiologist and medical student, but to give back to the community that gives me and the broader SGU community so much and allows us to call their home, our home,” said Term 4 SOM student Cameron Rattray, MPH. “We are one people, one community, and we all must band together in these turbulent times to fight COVID-19 and win this war.”

Under the direction of Dr. Carol McIntosh, the Ministry of Health’s director of hospital services, students traveled in teams across the island to serve in the MOH’s pop-up clinics. Students ranged from Term 1 through Term 5, with School of Medicine faculty advisors also onsite to oversee them.

 

 

“We are so proud of these students who selflessly gave their time to give back to the Grenadian community,” said Dr. Marios Loukas, dean of the School of Medicine. “Offering to assist Grenada’s healthcare workers during this time of need is the sign of a true calling as a physician. These experiences will become invaluable as they continue their training.”

Among the student volunteer responsibilities—vaccination and COVID-19 testing registration and site setup, assisting the physicians administer tests and vaccinations, providing results and educational material, monitoring patients who received the vaccine for any adverse reactions to the injection, and helping clinic attendees maintain social distancing while waiting for the vaccine.

 

“Offering to assist Grenada’s healthcare workers during this time of need is the sign of a true calling as a physician.”

 

Members of SGU’s Emergency Medicine Club (EMC) were among the student volunteers eager to help. According to EMC President Arya Hawkins-Zafarnia, the lessons learned by students were innumerable and invaluable, falling into two camps: disaster response/emergency preparedness/management and compassionate community engagement.

While everyone’s roles varied, volunteers learned the importance remaining flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of each community’s situation, maintaining direct lines of communication to the physicians onsite, and working as a cohesive unit with a common purpose. They also learned the importance of extending compassion and respect to the Grenadians in need, Mr. Hawkins-Zafarina noted.

“Many students were exposed firsthand to communities that harbor mixed levels of skepticism in the available vaccines,” he said. “During our Friday evening briefing, Dr. McIntosh shared with the group of volunteers some wise words, and I think they were apparent in their relevance all weekend long: ‘Compassion cannot be taught, but it can be learned.’”

That said, “the Grenadians we encountered were incredibly kind and grateful,” Mr. Hawkins-Zafarnia added. “We encountered many that were vaccine-hesitant for both themselves and their families, and we tried our best to inform them of the benefits of getting vaccinated, if eligible. Health literacy is a challenge around the world, but there can be success when you approach people at their level and explain concepts in a culturally sensitive manner.”

Photo courtesy of Ministry of Health.

As attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 continues, SGU remains a trusted ally to the Government of Grenada. SGU faculty members have stepped up to volunteer their skills and expertise at the mobile vaccination sites. In addition, students in the School of Arts and Sciences nursing program have been volunteering at health centers across the country, providing Grenada’s healthcare professionals with much-needed assistance, a chance for a break, and camaraderie.

Crucial in the organization and planning of SGU student volunteer activities was the Student Government Association in collaboration with the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences within the SAS, which has become the official liaison between the MOH to coordinate gathering student volunteers for the clinics.

This past weekend, more than 100 students—both School of Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences—volunteered in the communities, with many more asking how they could help. As the Ministry of Health organizes more vaccination events throughout the island, there will be additional opportunities for students to volunteer, according to Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair and director of Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences.

“Altruism is in the DNA of any healthcare worker,” Dr. Solomon said. “It’s wonderful to see students across schools working together to learn about each other’s roles. These are the doctors and nurses of tomorrow.”

 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

 

 

Related Reading

Want to Ace Your Residency Application? Get Help from SGU’s Office of Career Guidance

St. George’s University School of Medicine students preparing for residency have a valuable resource to help them on their journey—the Office of Career Guidance and Student Development. Known for short as OCG, the department assists students with tasks like USMLE prep, clinical rotation scheduling, the residency application process, and counseling in specialty and residency program selection.

“If the admissions team has decided the student has what it takes to become a physician, the OCG is there to support the student and help get them to the finish line—residency,” according to Dr. John Madden, associate dean of students and director of the OCG.

“Starting in Term 1, the OCG introduces the pathway toward residency to students—be it in the US or another country—explains the examinations needed, and focuses on the importance of learning the basic sciences to become a great clinician,” said Dr. Madden, a 1981 SGU graduate himself. “At the end of basic sciences, the OCG offers an important talk that helps students prepare for the clinical years, and then during years three and four, there is a series of talks providing up-to-date information about the next steps that must be taken to secure a residency.”

Dr. Maddens shares additional tips on how students can obtain the residency of their dreams.

St. George’s University: How does OCG support students in their journey to residency? 

Dr. Madden: All students are assigned a “primary advisor” when they start clinicals. This advisor is an SGU-faculty member who will act as a sounding board for students as they go through their clinical journey.

Students discuss with their primary advisor the specialty they are interested in, what would be considered an appropriate number of programs to apply to, and the importance of including a parallel specialty. Depending on the specialty of choice and Step scores, the number of applications will vary depending on the student.

All of this information is covered during the “OCG talks,” which are live webinars that are recorded and posted on the OCG website. They’re valuable resources for clinical students who have questions about the residency application process.

 

“The OCG is there to support the student and help get them to the finish line—residency.”

 

SGU: What are the top three qualities residency directors look for in a candidate?

Dr. Madden: Competitive Step scores, letters of recommendation, and the personal statement. However, a program director may look twice at a student showing a keen interest in a specialty. Students should consider doing more than the med school requirement rotation in that specialty, joining a student club or organization related to the specialty, and attending a local, regional, or national meeting of that specialty’s professional organization.

SGU: When do students start preparing their residency applications?

Dr. Madden: Students who are applying to US residency programs begin submitting their ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) application in mid-September of the year prior to graduation. Canada and the UK post-graduate training programs are on a different schedule and require different examinations.

SGU: What’s one thing students should prioritize during the residency application process?

Dr. Madden: The most important thing for students is getting their ERAS application submitted on time, even if there is a letter of recommendation that won’t be uploaded until October or a CK score that is delayed.

SGU: How can students ace residency interviews?

Dr. Madden: Practice, practice, practice. Even if a residency interview is virtual, you need to prepare ahead of time.

  • Use the OCG’s Interview Stream program for sample questions.
  • Look over the residency program’s website to become knowledgeable about the specific program and ask questions related to that information.
  • In addition, learn more about the program’s residency directors and assistant directors, such as their research interests so that you can speak intelligently about the topics and ask appropriate questions.

SGU: What other postgraduate opportunities are available through the School of Medicine?

Dr. Madden: SGUSOM has tuition-free programs available to enhance students’ applications next year, such as an online MPH, the MBA program, MScBR, and additional rotations. Our support staff is available to discuss these with students after the Match if a student is unmatched to determine which pathway is best suited for them.

SGU: What is the best way to contact OCG if a student has questions? 

Dr. Madden: With any questions, it is best to start with your primary advisor.  If they cannot answer your query, they’ll refer you to someone who does know. However, students can always reach out to careerguidance@sgu.edu for help.

 

 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

 

Related Reading

New Student Government President Thriving After Career Change

Born in Queens, NY, to Taiwanese parents, Term 5 SOM student Stephanie Chen’s journey into medicine was not at all a predictable one. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics from New York University, Ms. Chen pursued several jobs in the financial industry—switching back and forth between for-profit and the non-profit sector.

Yet it soon became clear to her that being an economist wasn’t the right fit. She decided instead to wave goodbye to the East Coast and went off to pursue her graduate degree in physiology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH. It was in this high-energy, healthcare-driven community she found her passion for medicine, prompting her to enter St. George’s University to further explore the intricacies of how socioeconomic factors intertwined with the clinical practice of medicine.

Since joining SGU, Ms. Chen has held several positions on the Student Government Association executive board. Now as she begins her tenure as president, she shared why she chose medicine and what she hopes to accomplish in her new role with the SGA.

St. George’s University: What made you switch your career from economist to doctor?

Stephanie Chen: I quickly realized after quitting my third job in finance that my real passion involved helping people in our healthcare system. While in Cleveland, being at one of the largest healthcare hubs in the nation allowed me to see firsthand the physical, emotional, and social repercussions of the systemic challenges our healthcare industry inflicts on patients. It instilled in me the desire to make a change for those who cannot speak up.

Now, as I pursue my medical degree at SGU, I hope I can continue to think about how the clinical presentation relates to the actual person sitting in front of me, their families, and their background. My prior experience in economics has given me a broader perspective on the effect of the physician in the provision of healthcare and allowed me to appreciate the physician’s role. Every day I am learning more about the importance of advocating for my patients not just inside the doctor’s office.

 

“I aspire to not only be a physician who uses medical knowledge to treat the ailments of my patients but also a leader who advocates for her patients beyond the doctor’s office.”

 

SGU: How does it feel to be elected as SGA president for the August 2021 term? 

SC: It is an incredible honor to get the chance to serve as the president of our SGU student body and to be in a leadership role where I can spark change and make a lasting difference. I couldn’t be prouder of the vision SGA holds, and I am continually inspired by all the brilliant minds I’ve met within the organization.

Being a part of the SGA has taught me that my love for humanity and advocacy can drive me even further. I aspire to not only be a physician who uses medical knowledge to treat the ailments of my patients but also a leader who advocates for her patients beyond the doctor’s office.

SGU: What prompted you to pursue this position, and what influence do you hope to have? 

SC: When I first came to SGU, I knew I wanted to join an organization focused on serving others and paying it forward to the community. I saw SGA as the place I would be able to make a true impact and advocate for the entire student body. Growing up, I never saw Asian-Americans adequately represented in student councils or positions of leadership at this level. My hope is that I can influence other women of Asian descent to also strive to hold positions of power.

SGU: How did your prior SGA experience prepare you for this role?  

SC: Since I first started my medical journey at SGU, I have been a member of the SGA. Following my first term, I was elected to the executive board and have served in all subsequent terms in roles such as, vice president of financial affairs, vice president of communications, president of SOM affairs, and now president of SGA.

Having exposure to a variety of roles throughout the SGA has strengthened my ability to effectively advocate for student concerns to the University administration. Over the years, I have learned so much through collaborating with my peers. Through the partnerships on many projects, I have come to foster very strong relationships with department heads, school deans, and the SGU administration.

SGU: What are some of your top priorities?

SC: As part of this year’s priorities, I aim to advocate for more effective communication, a stronger school community, and greater diversity and inclusion for the entire student body. Our plan is to utilize well-established resources to help make these priorities a reality.

Throughout the term, our executive board will be holding weekly office hours via Zoom, continuing the SGA Virtual Study Hall to promote community, and re-opening the SGA Study Buddies Locator to allow for better engagement amongst our students. We will also be holding various virtual events to promote student wellness and mental health such as the SGU Student Organization Fair and SGU Mental Health Day.

SGU: How do you plan to incorporate the concerns and issues of students from all schools? 

SC: As SGA president, I check in with my executive board daily to ensure all concerns are being addressed in an effective manner. SGA also holds biweekly meetings—open to the general student body—every Monday at 7pm AST from September to November to allow for all student concerns to be raised to the executive board. As we enter this new term, I will continue to work with my team to use these established lines of communication to advocate for student concerns from all four schools at SGU.

SGU: What are the qualities of a successful leader?

SC: Being an effective communicator, having good judgment, and knowing how to delegate are essential traits for a successful leader. Besides these core attributes, I believe timing is also paramount. Knowing not only how to step in but when to step in has been crucial in unlocking some of the greatest opportunities in my life.

SGU: What are your career goals?

SC: Next spring, I will be entering into my clinical year and expect to graduate with my MD in 2024. Beyond medical school, I plan to take on the daunting task of addressing our broken healthcare system and advocating for a systems-level change in healthcare delivery to provide high quality and equitable healthcare for all.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Forbes: More med school candidates turning to Caribbean

Even though medical school applications have skyrocketed, the number of seats in US schools hasn’t kept pace. It’s led more and more qualified MD candidates to choose the Caribbean to continue their studies, this according to a recent story on Forbes.com.

“For decades, medical schools weren’t meeting the needs of an increasingly older U.S. population. Now, they’re forced to play a game of catch-up,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University.

Read more about how SGU is helping to provide a foundation for aspiring physicians to enter medicine in the United States, in the places where healthcare is needed most.

SGU welcomes two hospitals to clinical training network

The breadth of clinical training opportunities at St. George’s University just got bigger.

In the coming months, SGU students will be able to complete rotations and electives at two new hospitals—West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, IL, and Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue, NY.

The additions bring SGU’s network to more than 75 clinical centers and affiliated hospitals in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Grenada.

“Clinical training is the final step before our students graduate, and these new opportunities will only enhance their development into skillful and compassionate physicians,” said Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor of St. George’s University. “We have full faith that the doctors and healthcare staff at these institutions will help equip our students with the tools they need to be successful MDs.”

West Suburban Medical Center

At West Suburban Medical Center, SGU students will be able to do rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. It becomes the fourth clinical center or affiliated hospital based in Illinois, joining Humboldt Park Health, Loyola MacNeal Hospital, and Saint Anthony Hospital.

Long Island Community Hospital, or LICH, joins SGU’s network of more than 15 clinical training sites in New York, and the easternmost location on Long Island. SGU clinical students can currently complete electives at LICH, and core rotations will become available in the coming months.

– Brett Mauser

Related Reading

 

America Needs More Doctors: SGU President Writes Op/Ed for The Hill

 

The Hill has published an op/ed by St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds titled “To get the doctors we need, expand their opportunities to train,” which focuses on the need to increase postgraduate opportunities in the US.

In the published piece, Dr. Olds stated that America will face a shortfall of up to 124,000 doctors by 2034, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“This physician shortage will disproportionately hurt historically marginalized communities, where many people already struggle to find care,” Dr. Olds wrote. “Funding more residencies — so that more newly minted MDs can actually join the physician workforce — is the most straightforward solution to the doctor shortage.”

While the number of residency positions has been growing in recent years, “given the scale of the doctor shortage, we need even more,” he wrote.