Eighty-Six Alumni Recognized on Annual List of Top Doctors

No case is the same for Louis Guida, MD, president and CEO of Bay Shore Allergy and Asthma Specialty Practice in New York. However, the foundation from which he operates – a Doctor of Medicine degree from St. George’s University – remains a constant in his day-to-day activity.

“Anybody can be a doctor, but it takes a very special person to be a physician,” Dr. Guida said. “St. George’s University teaches its students to be well-rounded physicians.”

He has plenty of company as well. Dr. Guida, SGU ’84, was one of 86 physicians named on Castle Connolly Medical’s annual list of Top Doctors in the US. For the second straight year, Dr. Joseph Galati, SGU MD ’87, a gastroenterologist at Methodist Hospital System in Houston, TX, was selected to the America’s Top Doctors® list, which represents the top 1 percent of specialists/subspecialists in the nation. Others were selected as regional top doctors, rated in the top 10 percent in their region within their specialized area.

Altogether, the 2013 database included a 13 percent increase of SGU alumni from the previous year.

“Castle Connolly recognizes the very best physicians in the United States, and we are proud that so many of our alumni are highly regarded by their peers,” said Margaret A. Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning at St. George’s University. “That they specialize in a wide variety of fields speaks to the quality and breadth of education offered by SGU, and we look forward to producing even more individuals of these physicians’ caliber in the years to come.”

Founded in 1992 by John K. Castle and Dr. John J. Connolly, Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., surveys tens of thousands of physicians, who can nominate outstanding doctors in every specialty in their region or anywhere in the US. A physician-led research team evaluates nominees’ candidacy in aspects that include medical education, professional achievements, administrative posts, and malpractice and disciplinary history. Castle Connolly selects those physicians for either regional or national recognition based on the nominations and the credentials’ review, and doctors cannot and do not pay to be included in the guide and/or online database.

A Record Number of Residency Positions Obtained for SGU Graduates

St. George’s University graduates have had a record year of achievement thus far in obtaining first-year US residency posts, making this the third year in a row the University placed more graduates in first year US residency posts than any medical school in the world.

Congratulations, graduates! Thus far (April 12, 2013) – and the list keeps growing – 789 PGY-1 positions in 18 different specialties were secured in the US by our graduates in 46 of the 50 states. In addition to the 18 Canadian graduates who secured PGY-1 spots in Canada, many Canadian graduates obtained US residency positions this year.

While the majority of the graduates this year are fulfilling one of the University’s goals of meeting the American Medical Association’s call for more primary care doctors around the country, 25 graduates secured residencies in emergency medicine, 56 in surgery, and 22 in anesthesiology. Others matched in a variety of different specialties, including one graduate who secured an orthopedic surgery spot.

Among the 2013 matches was Michael Melin, who looks forward to beginning his anesthesiology residency at the University of Washington School of Medicine this summer. Mr. Melin grew up 15-20 minutes from the UW campus and earned his bachelor’s degree from nearby University of Puget Sound. He set off to Grenada with hopes of returning to the Pacific Northwest and is proud to have been offered the opportunity.

“Matching at the University of Washington really was a dream come true,” said Mr. Melin, who had gone on 12 interviews for anesthesiology and pegged UW as his top choice. “It will be really nice to go back west – my wife is from the west coast and all of my family is there.”

SGU students also matched in programs located in three Canadian provinces, including Catherine Murray, who obtained a highly competitive diagnostic radiology residency at the University of Ottawa through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS). The native of Winnipeg bolstered her resume by completing three radiology electives and shined during her clinical rotations at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit is proud to be able to continue her career in his home country.

“It’s very exciting to be going back to Canada and to be going to a great program,” Ms. Murray said. “I was told that radiology was very competitive, but felt that I was competitive enough. I felt very comfortable leaving Grenada with my knowledge base, and I think SGU students make a good impression wherever they go.”

SGU Grad Leads Nationally Renowned Emergency Medicine Department at Hackensack University Medical Center

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As chairman of the emergency trauma department at Hackensack University Medical Center, Dr. Joseph Feldman, SGUSOM ’89, is responsible not only for the health of the patients who require immediate assistance but also for the caliber of treatment which the department’s physicians provide.

Recently HealthGrades, a leading provider of information to help consumers make informed decisions about physicians and hospitals, once again acknowledged the competency of the department by awarding it the 2012 HealthGrades Emergency Medicine Excellence Award for the second year in a row. HUMC also received the 2013 HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award, placing it among the top five percent of hospitals in the nation for overall quality. It is the only hospital in the New York – Northern New Jersey market to garner both distinctions.

Dr. Feldman is proud of the job he and his colleagues have done since he took over as department chair in 2003.

“The entire Emergency Medicine Division works tirelessly to strive for clinical excellence using state-of-the-art equipment, while also focusing on patient-centered care through programs like our award-winning Take-a-Break Program, a volunteer program that provides periods of respite for family members,” said Dr. Feldman. “We are enthusiastically looking forward to the upcoming expansion and upgrade of our Emergency Medicine Division to provide private rooms for enhanced patient privacy as well as specialty patient care rooms.”

HealthGrades’s findings are based on analysis of over seven million Medicare patient records from 2008-2010. The report focused on 12 of the most common and life-threatening medical emergencies among that patient population, including heart attack, stroke, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The report found that Medicare patients treated at hospitals that have received the Emergency Medicine Excellence Award had, on average, a 41.52 percent lower risk of death compared to patients treated at non-recipient hospitals.

In addition to the HealthGrades accolades, the department has also been the recipient of the Press Ganey “Success Story” Award, the What is Right in Health Care Award from the Studer Group, and the JD Powers Award for Outstanding Experience in Emergency Services. Dr. Feldman was also instrumental in creating the Gerald Kissler Institute for Family Centered Care in Emergency Services at HUMC.

Dr. Feldman has been a part of the emergency medicine department at HUMC since 1998. More than two decades since earning his medical degree, Dr. Feldman still credits St. George’s University for his adaptation to the fast-paced, diverse and unpredictable nature of emergency medicine. “In the emergency department, we accept all comers, and going to SGU and living outside the United States made me more open to and familiar with other cultures and societies,” Dr. Feldman said.

Dr. Feldman’s love and support for his alma mater run deep and he is very proud of the high caliber into which his small Caribbean school has evolved. “It’s a great choice,” Dr. Feldman said of St. George’s University. “It’s truly an international environment and you get an excellent education.”

Alumnus Dwight Matthias Speaks on Diabetes Care and Management in Grenada

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Clinical endocrinologist and SGU Alumnus Dwight Matthias, MD, SGU ’92 captivated an audience of medical practitioners, allied healthcare providers and pharmacists with a riveting presentation over a two-day workshop on diabetic prevention, diagnosis and care.

According to Dr. Matthias, “Diabetes is a progressive condition, and if it’s not detected early or managed adequately, it can result in a number of health-related complications.” Nevertheless he affirmed that, “Diabetes can be controlled, and its prevalence reduced, and that’s why it’s always a pleasure to empower and dispel information on diabetic care that can potentially impact the Grenadian community.”

Dr. Matthias provided an update on diabetes evaluation and management, following his last visit in March 2011 and discussed the epidemiology and natural history of Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), reviewed the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Position Statement for management of Hyperglycemia in T2DM and looked at patient-centered treatment involving individualized A1C (Glycated Hemoglobin) target adjustments for patient and disease factors, lifestyle strategies and noninsulin and insulin therapies.

Throughout the second day participants discussed diabetic cases, and were given the opportunity to make recommendations towards improving hyperglycemia management. They were also privy to a demonstration involving the use of some devises used by Dr. Matthias to measure glucose levels at his practice in Virginia. These included glucometers/continuous glucose sensors, insulin delivery pens, insulin pumps and V-GO device.

The Chief Medical officer (CMO) attached to the Ministry of Health, Dr. George Mitchell stated, “Chronic non-communicable Diseases is one of the most common causes of death throughout the Caribbean region. It is a group of conditions that affects us adversely, and together with St. George’s University, who we proudly associate with, we are trying to manage this condition and create positive outcomes.”

According to the CMO, “The Ministry of Health spends approximately 60-65 cents of every dollar on medication to treat chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and if we were to continue down this path, very soon the country will not be able to sustain it.”

It is in this vein Dr. Mathias urged the participants to be the conduit that educates the public on the need for diabetic prevention and management, as the mantle has now been placed in their hands.

Upon completing his medical education at St. George’s University, Dr. Dwight Matthias completed his residency in Endocrinology at Stanford University, and is currently the president and medical consultant at Tidewater Endocrine Consultants, PC in Chesapeake, Virginia.

St. George’s University USMLE Step 1 First-Time Test Takers Achieve 97% Pass Rate

St. George’s University students who took the USMLE 1 for the first time in 2012 achieved a 97 percent pass rate, marking the fourth consecutive year that SGU’s overall first-time pass rate on the examination surpassed 90 percent. These students have come to SGU from 37 countries, with Canadian students achieving an impressive 100 percent pass rate.

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St. George’s 2012 performance on USMLE Step 1 was an improvement on the outstanding results from 2011, a year in which SGU first-time test takers achieved a pass rate of 95 percent overall and 96 percent among those from the US and Canada. By contrast, the first-time taker pass rate for students at US and Canadian schools was 94 percent in 2011, according to the USMLE website. US and Canadian schools’ pass rate for 2012 is still unavailable.

Designed to measure basic science knowledge, the USMLE Step 1 is comprised of more than 300 multiple-choice questions on topics ranging from the biology of cells and human development to the central nervous, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems, among others. A passing score on all three parts of the USMLE is required to practice medicine in the US.

St. George’s University Alumnus Performs Grenada’s First Angiograms

The tension was palpable in the operating room. For Dr. Mark Lanzieri, MD SGU ’85, it should have been a routine procedure – he had performed it more than a thousand times over his 22-year medical career. But this was different. It was the first time Dr. Lanzieri, or anyone, had performed an angiogram in Grenada.

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That day, Dr. Lanzieri performed not one, but two, angiograms as part of the St. George’s University Visiting Cardiology Program,” calling them “the most invasive procedures we have ever done here.” In the past, Grenadians have had to fly to one other Caribbean islands or as far away as New York or Miami to have these procedures.

He and his team, which included his wife Annie Lanzieri, an X-ray technologist and cardiovascular specialist, and Leigh Silver from Medtronic Company, had to modify the imaging equipment available at the General Hospital to make the angiograms possible. The team brought supplies and equipment to perform the angiograms including monitoring equipment supplied on loan by Zoll Medical Corporation. In the end, both angiograms were completely successful and uncomplicated.

Dr. Lanzieri, who has been doing cardiology screening, consultation, and surgeries in Grenada for the past 14 years as part of the Visiting Cardiology Program, explained that angiography involved using a special dye to obtain images of the blood vessels of the heart with an X-ray. This diagnostic procedure, detects the level of blockage of a patient’s coronary artery, which is important, since patients with severe artery blockage are at risk for heart attacks.

For Dr. Lanzieri, this is a surprising part of his own professional development. “This is very professionally rewarding for us,” he said. “It is fun and refreshing to do the things you do routinely in an environment that requires you to rethink everything from the beginning.”

The Visiting Cardiology Program, which provides heart care for adult Grenadians free of cost to them, keeps growing. “We’re seeing more patients in a month in this clinic than we probably saw in an entire year in the first few clinics that we ran,” said Dr. Lanzieri, recalling the program’s comparatively humble beginnings about 14 years ago in a single room at the General Hospital. Now the program has a dedicated center at Grand Anse, more and more St. George’s University alumni and friends of SGU are signing on and dedicating their time and expertise for the monthly clinics, and new services, like angiography, are being introduced. To date, the 24 cardiologists who participate in the program have seen more than 3,300 patients and the value of their time and the equipment they donated has exceeded $500,000 US.

St. George’s University Medical Students in India

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Fifth-term medical student Anne Walker described the latest step in her journey to becoming an MD as “simply exhilarating.” Ms. Walker and nine of her colleagues journeyed to rural India in December 2012 for a two-week India Medical Experience Selective at Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences University Karad (KIMS).

“I was honestly a little nervous about my energy level and wondered how much I would get from the program,” she confided, “especially since I was traveling to Mumbai the morning after our last final. However, I was energized by what I found when I arrived—a group of wonderful doctors, residents and administrators who were welcoming and eager to teach us.”

At this state-of-the-art teaching hospital, the students benefited from first-hand patient experience in a region with a high incidence of oral and breast cancers.

“We were present during a patient interview where a woman presented with a breast lump that had been increasing in size,” Ms. Walker said of her first day at the hospital. “The doctor took the time to explain the essential parts of the patient interview, after which we were given the chance to palpate and analyze the lump ourselves. Four days later, we were given the opportunity to observe the mastectomy for this same patient.”

Buzzing with excitement, she remarked, “It is one thing to learn about ductal carcinomas and their proper treatment in a Robbins Pathology textbook. It is quite another thing entirely to participate in the care of a patient.”

Selective students gain experience with taking patient history, conducting physical examinations, outpatient and inpatient treatments, alternative health care delivery systems, and KIMS community outreach projects designed to educate patients on the prevention and management of disease.

The curriculum provides both a diversity and continuity of experience as the students rotated through the hospital following their cases to their completion.

“The hands-on nature of the selective allowed me to really absorb everything I was learning, and I believe my experience there will prove invaluable especially as I start clinicals this coming August,” Ms. Walker said. “I would highly recommend this selective program for future SGU students and would be happy to be an ambassador for it.”

The India Medical Experience Selective was launched in July 2010, and qualifying fourth-term medical students travel to The Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences University Karad (KIMS) in June and December each year. KIMS is an 845-bed modern hospital with facilities for critical care, joint replacement, endoscopic surgeries, dialysis and more. Students have access to all state-of-the-art equipment at the Institute, including radio-diagnosis investigations: MRI, CT scans, mammograms, and color Doppler. St. George’s University students also join medical and dental students from diverse Indian backgrounds as well as students from other countries, working together in a hospital setting and living side by side on campus.

St. George’s University Grads To Match Wits With Top Business Schools at Boston Regional

For the second consecutive year, a group of St. George’s University graduates will go head to head with the most renowned business schools in the world.

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Gary Chan, MD ’12; Felicia Chee, MD ’06; Sung Shim, MD ’12; Mark Harman, MD ’12; and Jennifer Lopez, DVM ’11, will represent SGU in the prestigious Hult Prize competition, a start-up accelerator that, in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative, will award $1 million in start-up funding for a team to launch its sustainable social venture.

“The Hult Competition is an excellent opportunity for our university to participate in a meaningful project for the global community,” remarked Dr. Chan, the team’s leader.

The St. George’s Hult Competition Team will take part in the Boston regional March 1-3. Of nearly 10,000 applicants worldwide, the St. George’s University team was among 350 colleges and universities that were selected for the regional round, joining the likes of Harvard University, Stanford University, and The Wharton School. Regionals will also be held at the fourth other Hult International Business School campuses in San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai, as well as from Hult’s online competition. The winners from each regional will advance to the Hult Prize (formerly Hult Global Case Challenge) final in New York City for the chance to win a $1 million cash grant to carry out their plan.

“Participating in the Boston regional is a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Harman. “Not only do we have the opportunity to learn new skills and ideas, but we also get to make a concrete impact on the world.”

This year’s St. George’s Hult Competition Team is working to resolve the issue of food security in urban areas in which women and children suffer from malnutrition. It includes studying and researching social entrepreneurship, government, microfinance, community gardens, coops, consumer distribution, and industry infrastructure, among other topics, to devise a hybrid “social business” that can solve the issue.

As doctors and veterinarians, they’re accustomed to coming up with solutions that suit the short- and long-term needs of their patients. Dr. Harman also said that their international medical education allows them tackle global health issues from a unique perspective.

“We have woven each of our unique contributions, along with our medical/veterinarian experiences, into our plan,” he said. “In this way, we have not only come up with solutions that feed residents of slums, but that improve their overall health and ability to contribute to society, as a whole and reduce strain on health systems.”

The team has been advised by Dr. Kristine Kawamura, director of the MBA program, and Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, associate professor and deputy chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

“Dr. Kawamura has been an excellent mentor by bringing the experience of last year’s team to our meetings, and helping us optimize our preparation time, and Dr. Bidaisee has been an enthusiastic faculty member in our project, and brings a wealth of experience to our group,” Dr. Chan said.

It is the second straight year that St. George’s University has reached the regional round of the competition. In 2012, Team Nathan – Arian Robert, BSc; Nathan Kwablah, MD ’11; Stephanie Nanayakkara, MD ’10; Theodor Gottlieb, MD ’00; and Yon Chong, MPH, MD ’08 – presented at the Boston regional on the topic of global poverty.

Louis Guida, SGU MD ’84, Making a Difference One Patient at a Time

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Time and again, the patients of Dr. Louis Guida, president and CEO of Bay Shore Allergy and Asthma Specialty Practice on Long Island, thank him for the care he provides – which consistently goes above and beyond. There’s the time a deaf three-year-old received a customized injection of special medication which resulted in him gaining his hearing for the first time. And then there’s Dr. Guida’s cystic fibrosis patient who has managed to live to his 70s when the average lifespan for those stricken with the disease is 37. Dr. Guida doesn’t simply care about the disease; he cares deeply about the person who has the disease.

The 1984 graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine is thankful as well. He always wanted to be a doctor, and each day such success stories remind him of why he loves his job.

“One of the most important things to me is giving patients a better quality of life, whether they’re young, middle-aged, or elderly and in a nursing home,” Dr. Guida said.

In addition to his role at Bay Shore Allergy, Dr. Guida has served as medical director of the Allergy/Asthma and Cystic Fibrosis Centers at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, NY, since 1990, and medical director of pediatric pulmonology and allergy and asthma at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, NY, since 2008. He also cares for patients at a nursing home in nearby St. James.

Dr. Guida, who was named a “Top Doctor” by US News & World Report in 2012 and “Top Doctor” by Castle Connolly from 2008 to 2012, estimates that he visits with 30 to 50 new patients each week, or between 2,000 and 3,000 new patients per year. No case is the same. He can capably address the concerns from a wide range of patients in part because of the wide range of experiences presented to him at SGU. He was taught by professors in the top of their fields and from all over the world. The faculty wasn’t just decorated but they were accessible, oftentimes offering their expertise one-on-one before or after class.

“You don’t get that kind of opportunity in a lot of other places,” he said. “We were fortunate to get that. It was just phenomenal.”

In addition to appreciating all that the University and the island of Grenada had to offer, he gained clinical experience in St. Vincent’s in the United Kingdom as well. He initially signed on for six weeks in the UK but ended up staying 18 months.

“At St. George’s, you’re taught to think on our own,” Dr. Guida said. “You’re taught to think outside the box. Unfortunately a lot of physicians now are all textbook knowledge. What Grenada, St. Vincent’s, and England did was teach me think on my own. That’s one of the most important things when you’re caring for a patient, whether it’s an infant, child, adult or the elderly.”

His journey began after receiving his Bachelor of Science in biology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1980. When considering options for medical school, the New Jersey native was pointed to St. George’s University, then an up-and-coming institution in the Caribbean, by Dr. Abdol Islami, the chair of graduate medical education at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey, where Dr. Guida was volunteering. He continues to be grateful for all that Chancellor Charles Modica and the University did for him.

“I would have done anything and gone anywhere to become a doctor,” Dr. Guida said. “Every time I see Chancellor Modica to this day, I thank him for giving me the opportunity to become a physician. I have told many students to go down to Grenada to become physicians. If you want to become a doctor, Chancellor Modica will give you the opportunity, and SGU continues to put out wonderful physicians.

“Anybody can be a doctor but it takes a very special person to be a physician,” he continued. “Grenada taught us to be well-rounded physicians.”

Dr. Guida and his wife have four children, ranging from 16 to 22 years old. The family has resided on Long Island since 1990.

St. George’s University Catapulted Brownrigg, SGU MD ’07, to Anesthesiology Career in Midwest

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When Tanner Brownrigg set off from his home state of Kansas to enroll at St. George’s University School of Medicine in 2003, he had a vision of where the path would lead him. He wanted to study anesthesiology and return to the Midwest to continue his career.

Nine years later, he’s an anesthesiologist at Ad Vivum Anesthesiology, a group of 10 physicians, practicing anesthesia at a community hospital and an ambulatory surgery center in Kansas City. The plan worked. He’s where he always wanted to be, doing what he always wanted to do.

“I have nothing but great things to say about St. George’s,” he said. “I loved my experience there. I went there with a clear idea in my head of what my future held, and it came to fruition.”

Dr. Brownrigg believes one of the main draws to anesthesiology is the ability to work with a variety of different patient populations. On a daily basis he is able provide care to everyone from infants to expectant mothers to geriatric patients. A typical day’s cases might range from outpatient knee arthroscopies and pediatric ear tube placement to epidurals and cesarean section for child birth, or even heart and brain surgeries. He is an integral part of the process before, during, and after the operation.

“Before the surgery, we take the patients’ history, review their labs and X-rays, and making sure they’re medically stable to proceed with the surgery. Once we get into the operating room, I monitor the patient throughout the operation and am able to respond to acute changes that may take place during the surgery. Then in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), I help control the pain and make sure the patient is stable for discharge home or to the hospital floor.”

Upon earning his Doctor of Medicine from SGU, Dr. Brownrigg began his anesthesiology residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City in 2007. Paving the way to matching with his chosen specialty and location was an outstanding performance on both Step 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Dr. Brownrigg finished in the 98th percentile for each exam.

Prior to Match Day, he was confident that he would be paired with one of his top three residency choices. In fact, he had to turn down a number of residency interviews.

“The fact that I scored so well on the USMLE Step 1 and 2 exams was directly related to the quality of the professors at St. George’s and how the classes are structured,” Dr. Brownrigg said. “I never came across a professor that wasn’t willing to help you any way they could. They are at St. George’s purely to teach and it shows.”

He has paid it forward by performing student interviews for the University and attending information sessions in the Kansas City area.

“I’m very grateful that St. George’s gave me the chance to pursue my dream, and as a result I feel it’s important to give back to the school,” Dr. Brownrigg said.

A native of Ottawa, KS, Dr. Brownrigg earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Kansas in 2003, graduating with highest distinction. While in college, he worked as a nurse assistant at a local hospital and performed a variety of volunteer work in the community.

Dr. Brownrigg is certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and is a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists, and Kansas City Society of Anesthesiologists. He and his wife, Kara, a nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital, reside in Kansas City, Missouri.