SGU Grad Reveals “The Truth About Caribbean Medical Schools”

For Jessica Willett, MD ’13, St. George’s University was her first-choice medical school. The education and experience she had at SGU have propelled her to become an emergency medicine physician at San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp, CA. She set out to learn from an international faculty, with an international student body, and through international experiences like the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University four-year MD program (formerly the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program), and as a physician and board member for Flying Doctors of America. With philanthropy high on her list of values, she appreciates the opportunity to practice medicine in underserved and underdeveloped communities throughout her medical career.

KevinMD.com recently published her story titled “The Truth About Caribbean Medical Schools,” in which she stated, “I suspected that SGU held unique options that would help me to mold my career down the road, and I wasn’t wrong.”

St. George’s University, Northumbria University Expand Joint Medical Education Program

Today, St. George’s University and Northumbria University announced an expansion of their joint medical training program that will allow students to complete up to two years of their pre-clinical and medical education in the United Kingdom.

“St. George’s has students and faculty from more than 140 countries around the world,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “For many of our students, the United Kingdom is a more convenient location in which to pursue their studies. This relationship with Northumbria offers our students flexibility while ensuring they receive a top-notch education identical to the one we provide in Grenada.”

Under the terms of the expanded relationship, students in the St. George’s University School of Medicine of Grenada/Northumbria University five-year MD program will be able to spend up to two years at Northumbria’s campus of more than 33,000 students in the United Kingdom developing a foundation in the principles of clinical medicine. They will follow the same curriculum as their counterparts at the St. George’s campus in Grenada, in both Pre-Clinical Studies and Basic Principles of Medicine. They will also earn a Diploma in Higher Education in Medical Sciences from Northumbria.

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge illuminates the River Tyne in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Students then complete one year of the Principles of Clinical Medicine in Grenada before undertaking two years of clinical rotations, with up to six months of those in the United Kingdom and the remainder in the United States or Canada.

The St. George’s/Northumbria joint program was founded in 2007 to create a pathway for highly qualified international students to pursue a world-class western medical education. More than 1,700 students have since begun their physician training with St. George’s at the Northumbria campus.

Program graduates will be eligible to apply to enter the Widening Access to Specialty Training (WAST) program, a Health Education England initiative within the National Health Service that provides a pathway for U.K. registration through postgraduate training following the completion of an internship. This postgraduate training is recognized for licensure in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Commonwealth countries.

“We strive to send our graduates where they are needed most,” Dr. Olds said. “Our graduates are well-equipped to meet the needs of communities facing shortages of qualified medical personnel in the United Kingdom and around the world.”

“We are excited to further develop our relationship with both Northumbria University and the wider NHS,” said Dr. James Coey, Assistant Dean of Basic Sciences at St. George’s University and the academic lead in Newcastle. “The relationship between St. George’s and Northumbria affords our students experience with healthcare systems in Grenada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and beyond. I am confident our graduates will not only stand out from their peers when they interview for residency positions but go on to be exceptional physicians with a truly global perspective.”

“We have a longstanding relationship with St. George’s University, and we are incredibly excited to be working with them to offer an innovative new joint medical program, which will involve educating the doctors of tomorrow,” said Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Northumbria University.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to welcome even more students from around the globe to Newcastle.  Studying for longer with us, they will benefit from our world leading academic staff, research-informed teaching, outstanding facilities and the exciting city life which Newcastle offers.”

Medical Education Without Borders: SGU/NU Faculty Present at Prestigious Scientific Conference in Iraq

Three members of St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University (SGU/NU) Four-Year MD Program faculty presented six platform and four poster presentations at the Second International Scientific Conference of Medical Sciences Institute (ISCMS), held on April 10 and 11 at University of Al-Qadisiyah College of Medicine in Diwaniyah, Iraq.

Following visits to NU’s campus in Newcastle, United Kingdom, by the dean, Professor Aqeel Al-Barqawee and nine other Al-Qadisiyah faculty members; Drs. Nahidh Al-Jaberi, clinical instructor; Gordon Bourne, MD ’17 clinical tutor; and James Coey, assistant dean of basic science were invited to deliver keynotes at a conference attended by more than 1,000 participants. Delegates included Professor Emad Aldin Toma, chairman of the Iraqi Medical Council, representatives of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Minister of Health, as well as participants from nations including Australia, India, Turkey, and Pakistan.

“The attendance at conference of our international friends from SGU has reinforced our commitment to strengthening academic collaboration between Iraqi medical schools and international counterparts,” said Professor Ferdous Al-Tarahi, president of University of Al-Qadasiyah. “We are now developing plans to send students and faculty members for training in UK hospitals and medical schools.”

Dr. Al-Jaberi is a graduate of Al-Nahrain College of Medicine in Baghdad, and trained as a physician at Al-Kadhimiya Teaching Hospital. He went on to head of Department of Histology and Embryology at the hospital, and is now a discipline manager and clinical instructor at SGU/NU. He pointed out that Iraq has historically been a center of medical education going back to the establishment of Mesopotamia.

“That rich history means that, in spite of the recent past, its medical practitioners and educators remain committed to excellence and keen to engage with the international medical community,” he said.

Dr. Coey is a firm proponent of enabling future physicians to provide evidence-based medicine through “evidence-based medical education.” The advancement of medical education in Iraq has been hindered by the academic isolation brought about by conflict, sanctions, and terrorism over the past 30 years.

“As physicians working in the field of medical education, we have a moral and ethical obligation to share best practice so as to enhance patient outcomes across the globe,” he said.

The SGU/NU program (formerly the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program) was established to provide students with the opportunity to study within and experience a different healthcare environment and culture. Sharing and exchanging knowledge internationally are at the heart of the program’s ethos.

SGU has been an innovator in the field of medical education over the past 40 years, being the first medical school of its kind in the Caribbean. It has now educated more international medical students than all US medical schools combined and contributed more than 16,000 physicians from over 140 countries to the global physician workforce.

The SGU MD program is underpinned by small group sessions of 6-8 students facilitated by medically qualified clinical tutors and instructors. Gordon Bourne, MD ’17, clinical tutor and grandson of Geoffrey Bourne, SGU’s first vice Chancellor, believes that “using clinical tutors not only reinforces the clinically relevant aspects to prehospital studies but also engenders professionalism through near peer mentorship.”

Cancer Survivor Sets Sights on Becoming an SGU-Trained Physician

NJ.com recently caught up with CityDoctors Scholarship recipient Timothy Malone, whose journey to becoming a first-year medical student at St. George’s University included a long bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, with which he was diagnosed in 2010. Below is an excerpt from the NJ.com story.

Once he understood what a doctor does, Timothy Malone knew that’s what he wanted to do with his life.

The kid from Mahwah was only 5, maybe 6-years-old when he made that decision.

Malone’s thinking wasn’t challenged — until his health tilted out of control in 2010.

Constant headaches came out of nowhere in high school. He lost 30 pounds, thinking that was normal for a 16-year-old teen getting in shape. He had a pale complexion and itchy skin that bled from his scratching. Doctors thought he had allergies. A chest x-ray saw something else.

“That’s when they found the tumors,” Malone said.

He had Hodgkin Lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymph system, turning his life upside down.

“I wanted nothing to do with hospitals,” Malone said. “It made me want to run in the opposite direction.”

But Malone, now 25, is sprinting back toward his childhood dream. He’s a first-year medical student in Grenada at St. George’s University, which has a teaching partnership with the Bergen County hospital that helped him beat cancer.

AMSA SGU Donates EC$16,000 to Grenada Heart Foundation

On the heels of another successful Valentine’s Day Date Auction, the St. George’s University chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) leapt at the opportunity to support an important local cause. The group of physicians-in-training recently donated the proceeds of that auction—EC$16,000—to the Grenada Heart Foundation (GHF) as part of its longstanding partnership in providing lifesaving interventional cardiac care to those in need, especially children.

As the group’s biggest and most popular fundraising event of the year, the Valentine’s Day Date Auction featured attractive donations from local businesses, including spa treatments, two-night hotel stays, and dinner for two at a popular resort. These prizes were paired with students showcasing various talents, such as; fire-breathing and belly dancing, and auctioned off “dates” for potential bidders.

“We had an amazing turnout. Over 200 students came out to show their support for this worthy cause,” said Chanelle Dufreny, fifth-term medical student and vice president of finance for AMSA. “It’s one thing for us to learn about cardiovascular diseases in school but then to actually be able to donate and participate in providing opportunities for children to receive life-saving heart surgeries at no cost to their families—that’s something that everyone wants to be a part of.”

For over two decades, the Grenada Heart Foundation has aided in more than 300 children and young adults receiving crucial cardiovascular care through direct funding and partnerships abroad. The foundation is supported locally by the Government of Grenada to provide free healthcare services to children who suffer with congenital or acquired heart disease and by international donors, including Children’s Health Organization Relief and Educational Services (CHORES), and a network of generous hospitals at which the patients are treated.

Having been with the Foundation for more than 25 years, the last 20 of which have been as its president, Dr. Chamarthy Subbarao has seen first-hand the life-altering work that the Foundation has done and continues to do.

“We are extremely grateful to AMSA, as one of our biggest supporters,” stated Dr. Subbarao, who is also a professor of clinical skills at SGU. “To date, they have donated over EC$100,000 to the GHF which goes toward helping achieve our mission of providing lifesaving interventional cardiac surgeries to children and other underserved members of the community.”

Founded in 1950, the American Medical Student Association is the oldest and largest independent association in the US, of physicians-in-training. Today, AMSA is a student-governed, national organization committed to improving medical training and has more than 62,000 national and international members, comprising of medical students, premedical students, interns, residents, and practicing physicians.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Student Success at the Center of Council for Education in the Commonwealth Annual Conference in Grenada

A total of 61 abstracts have been submitted for consideration to the annual conference of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC), which is to be hosted by St. George’s University on May 21-23, 2019. The conference, titled “Students: Our Common Wealth – A Focus on Student Success,” will hear from international representatives from throughout the commonwealth on how educational institutions can ensure students get the most out of their studies.

Submissions include oral presentations, poster presentations, and workshops, and cover a range of topics based on delegates’ extensive experience working in education. Topics on accessibility include “Inclusive Education in Ghana: Barriers Faced by Deaf and Blind Students in accessing Higher Education”; “An exploration of the inclusion of students with special needs in traditional schools in the Eastern Caribbean region”; and “Supporting Individuals with dis(Abilities) Through Universal Design in Learning”. Those interested in early years learning will have the chance to listen to presentations including “Designing a STEM Program for Delivery in Primary Education Settings; and “Can Reflection Help Junior Educators Teach Better?”. Extracurricular measures will also be up for discussion, as attendees consider an “Assessment of Pet Ownership on Student Academic Performance.”

The conference will also showcase a Technology Test Kitchen, an interactive space offering a hands-on experience for attendees to learn and explore how to integrate and apply technologies for educational purposes.

Conference attendees will include The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who will deliver a keynote address. It is hoped that a delegation from the University of Nairobi will also be in attendance to prepare the ground for the CEC’s conference in 2021, which it will host. A delegation from the University of Namibia, which hosted the 2019 conference, will be led by Professor Kenneth Matengu.

“We are delighted to welcome international delegates from across the Commonwealth to our conference on the theme of student success,” said Sonny Leong CBE, Chairman of the CEC. The fact that these include representatives from the University of Namibia, our former hosts, and the University of Nairobi who will host us in two years’ time, demonstrates the value of these international events in creating lasting pan-Commonwealth networks.”

Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University, said, “I am pleased that the response to our call for abstracts has resulted in so many responses on a wide range of topics. SGU’s faculty and students represent some 140 countries around the world, and this conference is an excellent opportunity for them to share their experience with Commonwealth education leaders, as well as hearing new perspectives from our esteemed attendees.”

Mini Medical School Inspires Future Grenadian Doctors

 

As part of its mission of diversifying the face of medicine, St. George’s University chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) hosted a mini medical school for students from Westmorland Secondary School (WSS) in hopes of sparking their interest in becoming Grenada’s future physicians.

SNMA members set up interactive medical stations that allowed the 22 high schoolers to receive hands-on lessons such as listening to a person’s heartbeat and lungs, identifying signs of anemia, and learning to take a patient’s pulse rate. WSS students also enjoyed the physical education station, where they participated in a relay race promoting physical fitness.

“Our students always enjoy learning outside of a classroom setting,” said Mr. Frankie Noel, chemistry teacher and lab technician at WSS. “Sharing in the mini med school experience and hearing directly from SGU medical students what it’s like becoming a doctor has definitely convinced many of our students to strive to become physicians at St. George’s.”

Along with a presentation on sickle cell disease and diabetes, two common conditions affecting many Grenadians, the visiting students learned about the different components of the blood, how to perform CPR, and how to conduct mini objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE). At the end of the day, the young visitors took part in a mini-graduation ceremony and were treated to taking photos while dressed in the white coats of the SNMA members.

“One of the primary purposes of SNMA is to serve the health needs of underserved communities and communities of color,” stated fifth-term medical student Michelle Adibe, who serves as president of SNMA. “Through our outreach and education programs like the mini med school program, we give students of our host country a chance to feel what it’s like to be a doctor for a day. We hope that by exposing them to medicine as an occupation we can show them that it is possible and that we’re rooting for them.”

SNMA chapters based at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the US are committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians. In addition, SNMA serves as a credible and accurate source of information relevant to minority issues in the field of medical education.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Canadian Delegation Visits SGU to Discuss Doctors Returning Home

St. George’s University recently welcomed a delegation of Canadian senators along with Dr. Salvatore Spadafora, vice dean of post-MD education at the University of Toronto, to meet with Canadian students to discuss their views on training abroad and their intention to return home upon completion of their studies.

The Canadian guests spent four days visiting with top SGU administrators and faculty, touring the campus facilities as well as Grenada’s General Hospital and various health clinics, before attending a town hall meeting. With more than 100 Canadian students present, the senators spoke about the great need for doctors to return home after they’ve finished their training. They discussed different pathways for students to take and about the hurdles that young Canadians studying outside of their home country must clear.

“We thought the overall visit was extremely beneficial,” said Charles Furey, Canadian consultant, St. George’s University School of Medicine. “It provided a great education for politicians and other professionals in the medical community living in Canada to view SGU’s incredible infrastructure, faculty, curriculum, and most importantly, to meet our outstanding students who come from Canada.”

“It was really exciting to have such powerful people come to Grenada,” said Katlyn Elliott, president of the Canadian Students Association (CanSA) and a second-year medical student. “I believe this is the first time that we’ve had Canadian government officials actually come to SGU and see what we’re all about. With many provinces in Canada looking to international medical graduates to address their shortage of physicians, it was great to hear that we were the quality doctors they wanted to fill that gap.”

During the meeting, many of the senators took notes, and at the end of the visit expressed their willingness to help in any way possible to raise the profile of SGU and help remove some of the obstacles for Canadian students to return over the next few years.

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Hosts Record-Breaking Research Day

Faculty, students, and local and regional citizens recently descended on Louis and Marion Modica Hall for the 18th St. George’s University Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day, during which a record 145 presentations were showcased.

Of the presentations, 79 were posters and 66 were oral presentations. A faculty panel made up of judges from SGU and outside of the University reviewed the submissions, choosing three to four winners for each category based on originality, scientific merit, and level of involvement. Three winners were selected for Best Faculty and four for Best Student Oral Presentations, and three for Best Faculty and Best Student Poster Presentations each.

The complete list of winners can be seen below. The campus-based Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) will present each with a plaque on April 15.

“This year’s Research Day received the largest number of submissions of both poster and oral presentations in its 25-year history,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, director of research at St. George’s University. “This event saw the sharing of scholarly contributions from students, faculty and collaborators. Many thanks to all who presented, attended, or assisted with this year’s Research Day and made it such a memorable one.”

In addition to the faculty and students from all four schools at SGU, faculty from T.A. Marryshow Community College, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the University of the West Indies also presented at the conference. Co-authoring the work featured was an impressive list of collaborators from 14 countries and representing more than 50 institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Oxford, the University of Sydney, Temasek in Singapore, and Pretoria in South Africa.

St. George’s University Research Day began in 1994 as a means to disseminate outcomes of research being conducted by faculty and students at the University, which at the time comprised the Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies. With the expansion of the University’s programs and the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, the Alpha Delta Chapter of Phi Zeta Honor Society for veterinary medical students held its first Research Emphasis Day in February 2010 combining with the University-wide Research Day. The Society aims to foster the constant advancement of the veterinary profession, higher education, and scholarship, and to promote research in matters pertaining to the welfare and disease of animals. In keeping with the emphasis on One Health One Medicine, Phi Zeta conducts its Research Emphasis Day in collaboration with the other schools at the University. The next SGU Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day is scheduled for October 24, 2020.

Best Faculty Oral Presentation

  1. Dr. Bhumika Sharma – SVM
  2. Dr. Damian Greaves – SAS
  3. Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson – SOM

Best Student Oral Presentation

  1. Amber Lee – SVM
  2. Masha Phillip – SAS
  3. Matthew Carvey and Paul Feliu – SOM

Best Faculty Poster Presentation

  1. Dr. Naudia Dundas – SVM
  2. Gwen Burbank – SAS
  3. Rachael George-St. Bernard – SOM

Best Student Poster Presentation

  1. Lauren Kiebler – SVM
  2. Zoya Buckmire – SAS
  3. Jennifer Nguyen – SOM

Phi Zeta plaques/certificates were awarded to the following students for their participation: Yu Wang, Sarah Tabin, Chris Memonagle, Monica Tetnowski, Caitlin Moraland, Lindsey Hattaway, Andy Hsueh, Teresa Monroe, Dexton St. Bernard, Jaelene Haynes, Katelyn Thille, Nia Rametta, Shekinah Morris, Vishakha Vasuki, Devin Cruz-Gardillo, Haidi Janicke, and Alexandra Baker.

– Ray-Donna Peters

International Expert on Dengue Fever Delivers 20th Annual WINDREF Lecture

With 390 million dengue infections per year and 96 million more individuals showing symptoms, half of the world’s population is now at risk of contracting dengue virus, this according to Dr. Timothy Endy at the 20th annual WINDREF Lecture at St. George’s University. In his address, the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University outlined the history of dengue research in Thailand and shared his key findings and the future directions in the study of the disease.

Additionally, Dr. Endy not only came to Grenada to provide an overview of his research across almost three decades but as part of a proposed incidence study titled “Dengue in a Travel Population: Prospective Cohort Study of Primary Dengue Infection.” The study will examine dengue-naïve individuals who move to an endemic dengue area and are now at high risk for infection, while also offering an opportunity to study the immunology of primary infection.

Dr. Timothy Endy

“The Grenada prospective dengue study is the first of its kind, in that a primary prospective study has never been done,” stated Dr. Endy. “Understanding what happens during that first infection is so key and so understudied that it’s one of the main reasons why we’re doing it here at SGU.”

Funded by Janssen Global Public Health, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutica, the study began on August 2018 and will run until May 2021. Approximately 600 students are enrolled. They will provide blood samples for research surveillance throughout the year with the primary objective of determining what the incidence of dengue is within the student population, as well as the feasibility to support a prophylactic dengue efficacy trial.

“The study will focus on the incidence of infection of the dengue virus in the student body with hopes of providing a better understanding of the host response to the first dengue infection,” explained Dr. Endy. “Additionally, we hope it will help to refine diagnostic assays for dengue which is essential for diagnosing acute dengue and vaccine development; and be a platform in which to test the effectiveness of drugs and vaccines in a traveler’s population.”

As professor and chair of microbiology and immunology and vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine at Upstate, Dr. Endy is considered a renowned expert in the field of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever and emerging viral pathogens. During his longstanding career, he has conducted basic science research in the field of virology, developed vaccine field and epidemiological study sites in Southeast and Central Asia, conducted phase I and II clinical vaccine trials, and is active in the development and management of research programs that are product oriented towards developing vaccines and diagnostics that meet FDA regulatory requirements.

Formerly known as the annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture, the WINDREF Lecture attracts the attention of world experts willing to share their expertise on topics such as climate change, health needs, and drug abuse and addictions. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert C. Gallo, best known for his role in the discovery of the HIV’s link to AIDS; Dr. Ruth Macklin, a bioethics pioneer; and renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster.

– Ray-Donna Peters