St. George’s University Follows Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education to Stem the Spread of COVID-19

TRUE BLUE, Grenada, March 12, 2020 – St. George’s University has been closely following the global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), including its recent characterization as a pandemic as well as the potential implications it may have on our True Blue Grenada campus and the larger community in Grenada.

While at this time there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Grenada, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff and the larger Grenada community are of paramount importance to us. Our goal is to make prudent decisions that reflect our commitment to the ongoing safety of our campus community and that of the people of Grenada.

SGU has decided to encourage all international students on the Grenada campus to return home with the situation being re-evaluated by April 15. Students will only return to Grenada when it is well advisable and the global pandemic has stabilized. We will be in close coordination with the Ministry of Health regarding the timing of students’ return. Some students and faculty, both local and international, will remain in Grenada and our campus will remain open for all who continue to reside there, with full use of campus facilities. This approach is consistent with recommendations for Institutions of Higher Education from public health officials, and mirrors the actions taken by many universities around the globe to limit the density of large populations on their campuses. The plan is for only small groups to meet face to face, with appropriate social distancing, with the further development and implementation of online education to reduce the need for face to face classroom gathering.

We will continue to operate the campus in Grenada with full staffing, with no change to current employment status, pay or benefits.

These actions are taken out of concern for our students, faculty and staff and the desire to maintain public health in Grenada, in light of this rapidly changing situation. SGU is also working closely with the Government of Grenada to assist with preparations for enhancing the public health infrastructure on the island.

“As SGU has done in the past during challenging times, we will continue to stand with our Grenadian partners and the people of Grenada with support and close collaboration,” Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor of SGU, said.

Prime Minister Mitchell stated, “We appreciate the close partnership with SGU and Chancellor Modica, and want to support all efforts to lessen the risk to Grenada of COVID-19. We will continue to closely coordinate with SGU to address this issue and mitigate the impact on Grenada.”

To date, no member of the university community has contracted COVID-19. We have been working diligently with the Ministry of Health, Grenada and our international partners to consider every contingency that will allow us to limit exposure to the disease among members of the SGU and Grenadian community.

From Orphaned Alpacas to Puppy Care: Knoxville Veterinarian Dishes on What It’s Like to Own a Vet Clinic

Leah Wulforst, DVM '05

As a companion animal veterinarian in Knoxville, TN, Leah Wulforst, DVM ’05, has seen her fair share of emotional pet owners who have been forced to make tough decisions about their pet’s health. And it’s her responsibility to assist in coming to the right conclusion.

One memorable case involved a young dog named Lexi, who was brought to Dr. Wulforst showing symptoms of a fever, decreased appetite, and discomfort in its left eye. Despite medication, Lexi’s health worsened and within 48 hours she developed glaucoma. A urine test revealed that she had blastomycosis, a type of fungal infection dogs can get from inhaling spores from the ground.

After a heartfelt discussion with the pet’s owners, Lexi’s left eye was removed, and when similar symptoms emerged in her right eye, it had to be removed as well. Lexi continued the fight against blastomycosis with the help of medication for almost a year. The owners were aware that removal of her eyes was only the first step to treatment, and there was no guarantee that she could clear the infection, but they decided to move forward, step by step.

While Lexi had a poor prognosis then and her condition required expensive medication, today she is vibrant, happy, and free of infection.

“At some point, all owners of a pet are going to have to make a difficult decision regarding the pet’s well-being,” Dr. Wulforst said. “As veterinarians, we hope that we can make these decisions easier.”

Today, Dr. Wulforst is the owner of Riverside Veterinary Clinic in Knoxville, making a name for herself in the close-knit community. Dr. Wulforst made Knoxville News Sentinel’s 40 under 40 Class of 2017; she also was featured in People magazine and a local news story when her office took in an orphaned alpaca.

She treats a variety of household pets and the occasional backyard animal including goats, chickens, and pheasants, setting aside a portion of her day for any surgical appointments or emergencies. Dr. Wulforst also works closely with several local cat and dog rescue groups.

“What I love about being a vet is seeing the client’s face when the pet gets better, how relieved they are, and how appreciative they are,” she said. “It’s that look on their face that I really enjoy.”

She added: “I also enjoy the challenge of it. [Veterinary medicine] is always evolving and I am always learning. From research to disease processes, we’re finding out so much more information from genetic testing and cancer testing. As long as you keep reading and researching, you are always going to improve.”

Dr. Wulforst opened her clinic in 2017 after she realized she wanted to set her own protocols for her patients and dictate their quality of care.

“I want to make sure I keep striving to do what’s best for the client and for the patient,” she said. “Clients want definitive answers, but sometimes that takes a lot of money or is just not possible. I want to be able to have all options placed in front of them and help them decide what’s going to work for them and their budget, and what will be the best care for their pet.”

ARE VACCINES ALWAYS THE ANSWER?

One example is household pets don’t always need annual vaccines. Some can be given every few years, based on individual exposure levels, which should be discussed with the client, she said.

“It’s very important as a puppy, for example, to get baseline vaccines that can protect them against diseases such as parvo,” she said. “But the other thing we know is that some vaccines last a lot longer than we think—in fact anything we inject into our body, like extended release antibiotics, can stimulate the immune system or create injection-site sarcomas. So, it’s important to get baseline protections and from there many times we can check titers, specifically for distemper, parvo, and even rabies, depending on state laws.”

Dr. Wulforst is also optimistic about using certain alternative medicine in vet practice, including supplements that help joint support, turmeric as an anti-inflammatory and for mild pain relief, cold laser therapy to stimulate blood circulation and help arthritis, and even specific probiotics to reduce anxiety and other behavioral disorders in pets. “I do feel there has to be evidence-based research to show proof on how it works and that it’s safe,” she said.

TO KNOXVILLE AND BACK AGAIN

After graduating SGU, Dr. Wulforst moved to the Knoxville area with her husband to start her professional career in nearby Seymour, TN. Yet in 2007, they relocated to Long Island, NY (where Dr. Wulforst grew up) to be closer to family. Seeking a slower-paced lifestyle, the couple returned to Knoxville in 2013 with their son, where she worked briefly for an area veterinarian before striking out on her own.

Dr. Wulforst hasn’t forgotten how her SGU roots helped her become the vet she is today. She was among one of the early graduating classes of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, which opened in 1999.

“I loved the change in scenery and since it was a [relatively] new program I felt like there was a lot more flexibility,” she said, referencing the program’s adaptability to course topics and tracks.

Additionally, she is very thankful for the direct mentorship and individual attention she received from faculty and hands-on learning while in Grenada. “I definitely felt the hands-on experience I got at St. George’s was so much more than I have seen from some of the students coming out of the universities in the US,” she said.

Yet being a business owner is not without its challenges. While she plans on adding another full-time veterinarian as well as a part-time vet in the next few months to accommodate her growing caseload, finding employees who are a good fit with her philosophy is the hardest part of a running a business.

“A lot of this was a learning process,” which includes being closed on the weekends, she said. “My goal is to have a good work-life balance for myself and my staff.”

–Laurie Chartorynsky

 

SGU Vet Students Secure Highly Specialized Postgrad Positions in 2020

Vet students at St. George's University

St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine students and graduates took the next step in their careers as aspiring veterinarians, matching into highly competitive postgraduate positions throughout the United States and Canada. Early 2020 reports confirm that DVM students secured 25 internships and 11 first-year residencies, with more results likely to come in throughout the spring.

This summer, SVM alums will begin postgraduate training in a variety of clinical specialty areas such as orthopedics, cardiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, immunology, diagnostic imaging, and pathology, matching into positions at veterinary hospitals such as the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, and the University of California, San Diego, as well as veterinary centers in Alberta and Saskatoon, in Canada.

“We congratulate our students who are on to the next chapter in their careers in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Throughout their basic science and clinical years, they endured a rigorous course load and absorbed a wealth of information. We are pleased that the curriculum has adequately prepared them to meet the highest of practicing standards and are delighted that their efforts have been rewarded.”

After graduating, students may obtain an internship, a one-year clinical training program used to prepare a veterinarian for high-quality service in practice, or even a residency, which is a two- to three-year program. Students must receive a passing grade on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) in order to achieve certification by any of the veterinary medical specialty boards. The 360 multiple-choice-question test is required for licensure to practice veterinary medicine in both the US and Canada. St. George’s University’s veterinary medical students posted a 95 percent pass rate on the exam in 2017-2018 according to the International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA).

“We couldn’t be prouder of our students. They’ve made it through a very strenuous program with great drive and determination,” praised Dr. Anne Corrigan, associate dean of academics in the SVM. “At St. George’s, we believe it’s important that our students have a strong foundation of knowledge, hands-on clinical skills, and confidence when they set off for their careers as veterinarians. As faculty, we believe that we have provided our students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in advanced training programs. We have the utmost respect for our students and are proud to call them our colleagues.”

Adding to its many accomplishments, St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program recently received full accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the organization that sets the standards of veterinary care in the United Kingdom, through 2024. The School of Veterinary Medicine is now one of the few schools in the world accredited by both the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) in the US and Canada, as well as the RCVS in the UK.

SGU’s DVM graduates are now fully eligible to seek licensure in the US and Canada without further steps other than successfully passing the NAVLE. DVM graduates who have also completed the Global Veterinary Health Track will also be eligible to register as members of the RCVS and practice in the UK without further examination.

Now in its 21st year, the School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated nearly 1,700 students who have gone on to practice in 49 states in the United States and 16 other countries around the world. The School also maintains partnerships with 31 universities and clinical facilities in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, where fourth-year students spend a year of clinical training at an affiliated veterinary school.

–Ray-Donna Peters

Future Veterinarians Encouraged to Move Mountains at Spring 2020 White Coat Ceremony

As parents, Jan and Sean Kane always knew that their daughter Sara was destined to accomplish great things. Yet, when the day arrived for her to profess her commitment to the study and practice of veterinary medicine, they were surprised as well as proud. Visiting Grenada for the first time, the couple left their home in Washington State to attend the Spring 2020 SVM White Coat Ceremony, sitting front and center to share in their daughter’s special moment.

“I can’t even express in words how proud I am of Sara right now,” shared Jan. “It has been an amazing three years leading up to this moment and it couldn’t get any better.”

“The campus is gorgeous,” added Sean. “And I know you’re not supposed to be jealous of your kid, but this is definitely an awesome place to spend the next few years.”

According to the Kanes, much of the credit for their daughter’s decision to enter into the veterinary medical profession must go to her grandmother, Dr. Eileen Rowan, a practicing veterinarian for more than 30 years. In addition to giving some gentle prodding, Dr. Rowan took her granddaughter to an animal hospital one day for a behind-the-scenes look into a vet’s world, and since then she’s never looked back.

“I’m so overjoyed that my granddaughter is going to be following in my footsteps,” said Dr. Rowan. “Going up on that stage and coating her, I had to concentrate very hard not to cry. Growing up, Sara’s always loved animals, but she had never considered pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. I’m glad I gave her that push she needed because she’s very talented. She has a real gift that she didn’t even know she had.”

During the ceremony, Dr. Rowan joined her husband on stage, SGU’s own dean of admission, Robert Ryan, to share in the privilege of coating their granddaughter along with five SGU graduates who returned for this spring’s SOM and SVM White Coat Ceremonies.

“I must say that this was one of the best experiences of my life since being at St. George’s,” said Mr. Ryan. “I’ve been here for 25 years and I absolutely love this island. I also love the faculty, staff, and most importantly, my interactions with the students. And now to see my granddaughter become a student here is just phenomenal. After completing three years in the preveterinary medical program to now witness her entry into the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program, as well as have the honor of coating her along with my wife is just amazing. It’s one of the happiest days of my life.”

“Originally I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” admitted Sara. “But I’ve always been that kid who brought home stray animals and I was constantly interested in my pets’ health. I thank my grandmother for getting me into gear. She told me to give it a try, and the second I did, I fell in love. Later, when I saw my first surgery, that’s exactly when I knew I needed to be a veterinarian. It was my calling.”

Ms. Kane began her journey toward joining the ranks of nearly 1,700 graduates of the School of Veterinary Medicine who have gone on to practice in 49 states in the United States and 16 other countries around the world. The SVM also maintains partnerships with 31 universities and clinical facilities in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, where fourth-year students spend a year of clinical training at an affiliated veterinary school.

THE  STONES OF SUCCESS

According to alumnus and master of ceremonies, Thomas Hanson, MD ‘11, getting into veterinary medical school was easy, the hard part was getting out.

“Now that you’ve gotten into vet school, what do you do with this mountain that’s before you?” asked Dr. Hanson. “My favorite Chinese proverb says, ‘those who move mountains start by carrying away small stones.’”

The first stone Dr. Hanson described was dedication, reminding the veterinarians-in-training that they already carried that one; otherwise they wouldn’t have enrolled. Next came organization, which had two stones—the first meant to get organized for class and study, and the second meant to get involved in joining various organizations and clubs. Another small stone to carry was their fellow classmates. He suggested getting to know them because they would always be there for them. Teachers was the next stone he mentioned, commending the SGU faculty which was made up of world-class professors from across the globe. Another small stone to be carried was open-mindedness. Dr. Hanson reminded them that vet school, like any other university, was challenging. The final small stone was recreation. He encouraged them to take full advantage of living on an island and to get out there and enjoy it.

“Four years are going to pass in the blink of an eye,” stated Dr. Hanson. “This group will then reconvene in New York and you’ll look at that first handful of small stones that you’ve carried; determination, organization, classmates, teachers, open-mindedness, and recreation and realize that the letters of those first stones spell out what you’ve grown to become—a DOCTOR.”

This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Sara Baillie, emeritus professor at the University of Bristol in the UK, gave a lively presentation detailing her passion for developing new approaches in clinical skills teaching. Dr. Baillie also has a PhD in computer science, developing and validating virtual reality simulators for training veterinary students and is responsible for opening the clinical skills center at Bristol.

“I’ve had a wonderful career with so many opportunities,” said Dr. Baillie. “I absolutely loved being a clinician and I really enjoyed working with people and animals. Then I was able to go on and become an educational researcher and through that I can actually affect change and improve the ways we teach you. At the heart of me, I’ve always loved being a teacher and working with students and I know the faculty that will be teaching you here are very much of that same mindset.”

She finished her speech with a quote from Aleen Cust, the first female veterinarian who graduated in 1897: “My wish for you is that you may all feel as I do after a lifetime—that the profession you’ve chosen is the best profession in the world.”

Now in its 20th year, the School of Veterinary Medicine continues to add to its list of accolades with its Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program recently receiving full accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). SGU’s DVM graduates who have completed the Global Veterinary Health Track will now be eligible to register as members of the RCVS and practice in the UK without further examination.

As a result of the accreditation, St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine is now one of the few schools in the world to be accredited by both the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) in the United States and Canada, as well as the RCVS in the UK.

– Ray-Donna Peters

SGU Year in Review: A Look Back at the New Stories that Defined Us in 2019

2019 was a monumental year for students, faculty, and alumni of St. George’s University. SGU became the second-largest source of doctors for the entire US workforce. We placed 979 graduates into US and Canadian residencies—our highest number to date.

But that’s not all.

The School of Veterinary Medicine received full accreditation by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), and is now one of the few schools in the world that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association in the United States and RCVS in the UK. The School of Arts and Sciences welcomed its first Caribbean national as dean.

SGU profiled many graduates who are making waves in human and animal healthcare industries—showcasing the diversity and reach of our global alumni—and how becoming a doctor (or veterinarian) has changed their lives and the lives of their patients.

These are the stories that underscore SGU’s strengths and define us as a University as we aim to enhance student success and grow the number of healthcare professionals around the world. Read on to see the top news stories of 2019 on SGU.edu.

Match Day 2019

On Match Day 2019, hundreds of SGU students secured first-year residency positions in the United States. Students matched into highly competitive positions in fields such as anesthesiology, child neurology, diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/emergency medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pathology, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, surgery, urology, vascular surgery. They joined residency programs in 42 US states and the District of Columbia over the summer.

In addition, SGU students and graduates obtained first-year residency positions through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS).

Profound Impact: SGU Educated Second-Most Licensed Physicians in US In 2018

For more than 40 years, St. George’s University has provided highly qualified physicians to the United States, and never before has its impact been more evident. According to a report published in the Journal of Medical Regulation, SGU educated the second-most licensed physicians in the United States in 2018.

SGU Commencement 2019

In June, the School of Medicine’s newest class of physicians convened together one last time in New York City for SGU’s annual commencement ceremonies. Family and friends gathered at Lincoln Center to watch the graduates join an alumni network of more than 17,000 physicians who have gone on to practice in all 50 United States and in over 50 countries worldwide.

In addition, animals of all shapes and sizes gained caretakers and advocates when the SGU School of Veterinary Medicine granted Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees to 83 new veterinarians in New York City. New veterinarians joined an alumni network of 1,670 veterinarians who built a foundation for their careers at SGU.

In Grenada, graduates from 31 countries were among the 2019 class that included more than 230 students from the School of Arts and Sciences, and 110 from the School of Graduate Studies, with one PhD graduate in attendance.

DVM Program Gains Full Accreditation from Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Adding to its growing list of achievements, the St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program received full accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the organization that sets the standards of veterinary care in the United Kingdom, through 2024.

Grenada-Born SGU Alum Returns Home to Care for His Nation’s Heart

As a practicing cardiologist, Diego Humphrey, MD ’84, a native Grenadian, serves the retired men and women of the US Armed Forces at the Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Muskogee, OK. Yet Dr. Humphrey, who never forgot his roots, returns each year to donate his time and expertise to the SGU-Physician Humanitarian Network.

Commonwealth Conference Focuses On Student Success

More than 350 educators from Grenada and around the world descended on SGU for the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC) 2019 annual conference. The 2019 conference marked the first time that the CEC’s annual event had been held in the Caribbean region.

Mother’s Cancer Battle Motivates SGU Grad to Become Breast Surgeon

Joseph Di Como, MD '14

A doctor delivered the news—cancer, an aggressive form. Joseph Di Como’s mother, a cornerstone of the family, would have to undergo surgery and many months of treatment. Her struggle changed the course of his life forever. More than 15 years later, now a doctor, Joseph Di Como, MD ’14, is providing important care and instilling hope in patients as a breast surgical oncology fellow at Brown University, Women and Infants’ Hospital of Rhode Island.

Major Canadian Hospital Joins SGU’s Burgeoning Clinical Network

Adding to more than 70 clinical training locations across North America and the United Kingdom, St. George’s University finalized an agreement with Pembroke Regional Hospital in Ontario, Canada that will offer fourth-year students a range of disciplines to choose from for their clinical electives.

Eugene Becomes First Caribbean National to Lead SAS

As the new Dean of St. George’s University’s School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), Dr. Lucy Eugene is deeply committed to its growth. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, she is the first Caribbean national to become the school’s dean.

Equine Veterinarian Shares Path to Horse Country

When S. Heath Soignier, DVM ’12, CVMST, isn’t visiting his equine patients, one can usually find him practicing new holistic veterinary medicine techniques on his quarter horse, Margarita.

“To me horses and dogs are two of the best animals: if you trust them completely, they are most willing to reciprocate that trust. Not a lot of animals are like that,” Dr. Soignier said. “I love that I get to work with horses all day long.”

—Laurie Chartorynsky

Equine Veterinarian Shares Path to Horse Country

 

SGUSVM alumnus and equine practitioner Dr. Heath Soignier.

When S. Heath Soignier, DVM ’12, CVMST, isn’t visiting his equine patients, one can usually find him practicing new holistic veterinary medicine techniques on his quarter horse, Margarita.

“To me, horses and dogs are two of the best animals: if you trust them completely, they are most willing to reciprocate that trust. Not a lot of animals are like that,” Dr. Soignier said. “I love that I get to work with horses all day long.”

Growing up on a small farm in Bosco, LA, Dr. Soignier always had an affinity for animals, aspiring to be a mixed animal veterinarian. Yet his career path led him another way—and one nearly 700 miles from his hometown.

“During my third year at St. George’s University, I visited Lexington with some classmates,” he said. “You hear of the Kentucky Derby and how it’s the horse capital of the world, but it’s so different to experience it. My plans [after graduation] were to go back home and work in a mixed animal practice there, but I came here for a week and kind of fell in love with the place.”

Following graduation, Dr. Soignier accepted a one-year internship position at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, KY and was offered to stay on after his internship was completed. Today he is an ambulatory associate at Rood and Riddle, which is a full-service equine hospital with satellite offices in Saratoga, NY and Wellington, FL. The hospital treats all different breeds of equine, including racehorses, quarter horses, mini-ponies, and donkeys.

“Our surgeons even treated a baby giraffe,” he said. “It’s not just thoroughbreds.”

As an ambulatory associate, much of Dr. Soignier’s time is spent on the road, visiting local farms. “Fall is a much slower time compared to the spring, which is foaling and breeding season for thoroughbreds. I handle a lot of reproductive cases, dentistry, even veterinary spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic) for my patients,” he said. “It’s a bit more of a demanding schedule and it can be a bit stressful in that regard, but I love it.”

“Horses can’t tell you what hurts—it’s our job to figure that out,” he added. “You have to be patient, but horses can really teach you about life and themselves. It’s very rewarding.”

From equipment to improving procedure techniques, even incorporating holistic methods of healing, Dr. Soignier is always looking at ways to impact a horse’s life in a positive way. For example, “within our practice we have digital radiograph machines that can take X-rays in the field. They’re wireless, which allows easier maneuverability and to be able to do that in the field with high-quality images is especially helpful,” Dr. Soignier said.

When not seeing patients, Dr. Soignier enjoys spending time with his wife and fellow SGU graduate Catherine Hercula-Soignier, DVM ’12, and his two young daughters on their 10-acre farm in Georgetown, KY. He is also an avid sports enthusiast and outdoorsman.

“I think the best thing about St. George’s is your classmates become your family,” and in Dr. Soignier’s case quite literally. “I joke that I left Grenada with a degree, a wife, and three dogs.”

Dr. Soignier’s wife is chief of staff at Banfield Pet Hospital, a small animal cooperate practice. He loves that he can ask for her opinion on particularly challenging cases.

“If you had told me 10 years ago this is where I would be, I would say you were crazy,” he acknowledged. “But I worked hard to get where I am today. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

–Laurie Chartorynsky

SGU Diagnostics Vet Protects the Health of Food Animals

Katie Woodard, DVM ’14Raised in Houston, Texas, Katie Woodard, DVM ’14, grew up raising show pigs for Future Farmers of America (FFA). Not only was it a big part of her childhood, the experience later fueled her interest in swine medicine, and eventually spurred her on toward a career in veterinary medicine.

Today, Dr. Woodard resides in rural Iowa with her husband and three children, working as a veterinary specialist at the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (ISU VDL). At one of the largest food animal diagnostic labs in the country, her job is to support food animal veterinarians in the field and provide quality service to the food animal agriculture industry.

“Growing up as I did, I never developed much interest in the small animal side of veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Woodard. “And I knew, even then, that I wanted to be involved in safeguarding the health of food animals, a role perhaps I was always destined for.”

Working at the VDL for the past five years, Dr. Woodard’s case load consists of about 85 percent swine—a reflection of the large swine industry located in Iowa and across the Midwest. On any given day, the diagnostics lab processes between 400 and 500 cases, making for a dynamic and ever-changing work environment. In her current role, she is responsible for all client outreach and education, where she assists her clients with disseminating information coming out of the lab, IT innovations, and retrieving diagnostic data from the lab.

“Our clients are veterinarians, and my job is all about making the diagnostic lab/client interaction as streamlined and straightforward as possible,” Dr. Woodard said. “My position helps to bridge that communication between lab and real life.”

Additionally, each summer she takes on a veterinary student intern to work on a project related to the lab and/or the swine industry. This could include anything from collecting samples in the field to developing better testing protocols or testing different swab types in the lab to make more informed recommendations to her clients in the field.

Continuing her tradition of educating future veterinarians, Dr. Woodard has also chosen to give back to her alma mater. Now, a visiting professor at SGU, she teaches the swine portion of the three-year veterinary students’ curriculum in the School of Veterinary Medicine. In addition, she has interviewed students applying to the veterinary school for several years.

“St. George’s University was actually the only veterinary school I applied to,” stated Dr. Woodard. “Having worked at the Louisiana State University School Of Veterinary Medicine as a technician for two years, I was already familiar with the traditional US model, and wanted to see what other options were out there for schooling. This, combined with my impatience to get started, led me to choose SGU since it offered rolling admissions, a much-needed change of scenery, and a more hands-on approach to learning.”

According to Dr. Woodard, she looks forward to continuing to play her part in the training of young veterinary students and considers it a privilege to be able to introduce them to the work of swine medicine and all the industry has to offer. With her future interests turning toward biosecurity and transportation and the impact those practices have on the health of food animals, she still maintains her commitment to the education of food-animal-oriented veterinary students.

–Ray-Donna Peters

SGU Veterinary Students Present Research at Parasitology Conference and Heartworm Symposium

 

SGU Veterinary Students Present Research at Parasitology Conference and Heartworm Symposium

St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine student Rebecca Howell has stayed the course. An animal aficionado from a young age, she shadowed a veterinarian in both middle school and high school, and later worked in a vet’s office.

Now in her sixth term at SGU, the aspiring veterinarian seized the opportunity to present her first poster at the 27th Conference of the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP) in Madison, WI. Her research titled, “Leptospira: Asymptomatic Carrier Status and Seroprevalence in Unvaccinated Canines Presented for Elective Sterilization to the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine Junior Surgery and Anesthesia Lab” focused on spreading awareness of the zoonotic bacteria, which poses a serious public health concern since it can be transmitted from animals to humans, as well as encouraging exercising safe practices when cleaning up after pets, since the disease is spread through their urine.

“Attending my first-ever conference was a great experience,” Ms. Howell said. “In addition to connecting with fellow vet students and analyzing research from all over the world, I also learned about new technologies being used in the field today. For example, in Europe there’s an app that allows pet owners and veterinarians to report ticks, therefore it can help track the migration of ticks from one country to the next. This is something that is useful in animal adoption, especially from other countries, because when you adopt an animal, you adopt their diseases as well.”

Also representing SGU at her first international conference was fellow SVM fifth-term student Kathleen Kila. She presented her poster at the 16th Triennial Heartworm Symposium, in New Orleans. Titled, “Reducing ambiguity in canine heartworm disease classification” Ms. Kila’s research unveiled a new classification scheme for identifying heartworm disease in dogs.

“Attending the American Heartworm Society’s meeting was a big deal for me,” stated Ms. Kila. “Getting the chance to present our research on the international stage has been an invaluable experience. With this study, we hoped that by making the process of classifying the different stages of heartworm disease easier, it would remove much of the overlap between classifications that was found within the old system. Our goal was to improve the system by getting rid of that ambiguity thereby making it more objective when evaluating each clinical case of the disease.”

The research conducted by Ms. Howell and Ms. Kila both stemmed from their Veterinary Research Investigator class, a series of SVM core curriculum courses developed in order to enhance student exposure and involvement in research. Students from terms 1 through 4 were placed into small research groups and paired with a faculty mentor, together with whom they worked through each step of designing and implementing a small research project—tackling a different phase of research each term, including writing a manuscript and creating a poster.

“I think the opportunity for our students to conduct research is beneficial because it exposes them to research methodology,” said Dr. Tara Paterson, associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery. “Having the knowledge of how research is conducted allows them to gain a better understanding of evidence-based medicine, which is what we encourage throughout our curriculum so that our students learn to be more critical in their review of scientific work.

“For Rebecca and Kathleen, I believe allowing them the opportunity to present their work to the wider veterinary community at these conferences has not only boosted their self-confidence but has also helped to validate the work they’ve done during this series of courses.”

– Ray-Donna Peters 

St. George’s University to Host International Veterinary Simulation Conference

Aerial images of Sir Eric Gairy Hall and Andrew J. Belford Centre.

With increased emphasis on simulation at veterinary institutions around the world, the 7th International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching (InVeST) Conference, to be held May 1-3, 2020, at St. George’s University, will welcome researchers, developers, and educators to the island to explore and discuss techniques, technology, and its rapidly growing implementation.

Grenada will be the fifth country outside of the United States to host the conference, following South Africa, Germany, St. Kitts, and Canada.

“It is our pleasure to host the InVeST conference in 2020,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Our university, an international center of excellence, is uniquely positioned to provide a meeting of high scientific quality and training in veterinary simulation. SGU is outfitted with the facilities and personnel to educate conference participants, while the scenic university also offers an atmosphere of relaxation as they earn continuing education credits.”

Participants will include veterinarians, educational institutions, InVeST members, and researchers, along with students and alumni from SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The two-and-a-half-day conference to be held in the newly established Andrew J. Belford Centre will feature keynote addresses, poster presentations, workshops, a reception, and various social events.

“By creating a space for these experiences and ideas to come together, SGU will continue to drive progress in all areas of veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Neil Olson, SVM Dean

 

Presentation topics previously covered include; effective delivery of simulation with realism and teamwork; best practices in educational technology: from games to virtual reality; getting started with simulation research; and voice user interfaces and their potential role in veterinary education. By partaking in the conference, attendees are eligible to receive 10 RACE credits.

“By creating a space for these experiences and ideas to come together, SGU will continue to drive progress in all areas of veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Olson.

InVeST was established in August 2011 following a successful Veterinary Simulation Exchange symposium hosted by the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. The group has grown exponentially through the Network of Veterinarians in Continuing Education (NOVICE) project, reconvening every 18 months for the InVeST conference.

“Ultimately, InVeST 2020 will provide an avenue for veterinary medical personnel to thrive and build on their professional knowledge while networking with peers,” said Dr. Olson. “The conference will enhance professional collaboration and camaraderie among veterinary experts, and we are excited to continue the growth of this group of innovators.

SGU’s DVM Program Gains Full Accreditation From Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons

Adding to its growing list of achievements, the St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program has received full accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the organization that sets the standards of veterinary care in the United Kingdom, through 2024.

As a result of the accreditation, SGU’s DVM graduates, who have also completed the Global Veterinary Health Track, will be eligible to register as members of the RCVS and practice in the UK without further examination. The School of Veterinary Medicine is now one of the few schools in the world to be accredited by both the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) in the United States and Canada, as well as the RCVS in the UK.

“The RCVS accreditation reaffirms SGU’s commitment to offering the highest-quality education and services to aspiring veterinary students,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Our dual accreditation is a major feather in our cap for the future recruitment of the best and brightest students and faculty to our program from around the world.”

The RCVS is the veterinary regulatory body responsible for monitoring the educational, ethical, and clinical standards of practicing veterinarians in the UK and the Commonwealth of Nations. It evaluated the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program on the following 12 accreditation standards:

  • Organization
  • Finances
  • Facilities and equipment
  • Animal resources
  • Information resources
  • Student caliber
  • Admission and progression criteria
  • Academic and support staff qualifications
  • Curriculum
  • Assessment policies, methods, standards, and quality assurance
  • Research programs, continuing and higher degree education, and
  • Outcomes assessment procedures

Dean Olson was notified of the RCVS accreditation in a September 13 letter and notified students of the achievement that afternoon. The RCVS had first visited SGU in 2017 and offered suggestions and recommendations. It was satisfied that improvements had been made during a recent follow-up visit to the school.

The accreditation builds on the School of Veterinary Medicine’s growing accolades. Last November, the AVMA renewed the SVM’s accreditation through 2025—the maximum seven-year term for accreditation. SGU’s SVM is one of 19 AVMA-accredited schools outside the US, and one of just two in the Caribbean. In addition, SGU’s Small Animal Clinic (SAC) was recently re-accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) through 2022, having earned the full three-year term for re-accreditation.

Now in its 20th year, the School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated nearly 1,700 students who have gone on to practice in 49 states in the United States and 16 other countries around the world. The School maintains partnerships with 31 universities and clinical facilities in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, where fourth-year students spend a year of clinical training at an affiliated veterinary school.

“To be fully accredited by the RCVS puts us right at the top in terms of the quality of training that we provide to our students looking to pursue a career in animal health care,” said Dr. Olson. “As we continue to expand and grow our successful veterinary program at SGU, we will look for further partnerships around the world.”

– Laurie Chartorynsky