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

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

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

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

 

 

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Black History Month: SOM Students and Grads Hope to Inspire Next Generation of Doctors

With the need to improve overall representation of minority doctors in medicine, students and graduates of St. George’s University School of Medicine who identify as Black or African American plan to make a difference in the field by advocating for underserved communities and the patients they serve, and by inspiring tomorrow’s minority physicians through mentorship and education.

According to the Association of American Colleges, just 5 percent of active physicians identified as Black or African American in 2018. Even more astonishing, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found only 4.6 percent of surgeons identify themselves as Black or African American.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is “Black Health and Wellness.” SGU News spoke with School of Medicine students and graduates about their motivations to go to medical school and their career path of choice, the challenges they perceive for minority physicians, and how they can inspire the next generation of Black and African American doctors. Our panel consisted of:

  • Jasmine Shackelford, MD ’20, family medicine resident at Emory University School of Medicine
  • Paul Osunwa, MD ’21, first-year anesthesia resident physician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Melissa Cheong, SOM Term 5, president of SGU’s Student National Medical Association
  • Amanda Herbert, SOM fourth-year student, Class of 2022
  • Okechukwu Nwosu, SOM fourth-year student, Class of 2022
  • Hannah Terefe, third-year SOM student, who also writes for the blog Women in White Coats.

Jasmine Shackelford, MD ’20, a family medicine resident at Emory University School of Medicine.

St. George’s University: What inspired you to enter the field of medicine?

Dr. Jasmine Shackelford: My inspiration for pursuing medicine started as a young girl where I witnessed a lot of apprehension from family members as it pertained to trusting and maintaining healthy relationships with healthcare providers. I wanted to make a difference in helping to eliminate the health disparities that exist in my community, as well as to encourage people to take charge of their health.

Dr. Paul Osunwa: I was originally a business major in undergrad and switched to nursing when the stock market crash occurred in 2008. I also competed in Division 1 athletics as a shot putter on the track and field team at Texas Christian University. My mother was a nurse and two of my cousins were nurses. I was surrounded by individuals who had been in healthcare. I took it to the next level by attaining my MD.

Melissa Cheong: At the age of five, my mother got extremely sick and was in and out of the hospital as I was growing up. Being around medicine at a young age was intriguing and I always found myself asking questions and wanting to get involved. This passion only grew stronger as I got older. Medicine allows for me to interact with people on a daily, while also using my science background to problem solve. I love interacting with people and making individuals feel comfortable in difficult times and situations.

Okechukwu Nwosu: So many people are going through so much, and I want to listen to their problems and help them make good decisions. I also want to be a role model for my community. If I have little kids looking up to me, and if they watch what I do and consider my advice, whether it’s telling them to look after their body, to eat right, not to smoke, then I’ve set them on a good course.

Paul Osunwa, MD ’21, a first-year anesthesia resident physician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

SGU: What are the biggest challenges for black men and women in medicine?

Dr. Shackelford: Representation. Although there has been an increase in the number of women practicing medicine, specifically underrepresented minority women, there are still more advancements to be made. Representation matters and it is critical to combat the long-standing history of mistrust that exists between the healthcare systems in minority communities. We must acknowledge the disparities that exist within this field, the negative clinical outcomes related to those disparities, and collectively work together towards change.

Dr. Osunwa: The biggest obstacle black medical providers have is believing that we don’t have a place in medicine. Removing the seeds of self-doubt is important.

Melissa Cheong, SOM student, president of SGU’s Student National Medical Association.

Ms. Cheong: The biggest challenge is navigating through a field where we do not see very many individuals who look like us. It can be discouraging at times. Being a minority in medicine also introduces imposter syndrome. The challenge may present itself as us asking ourselves: “Do we belong here?”, “Did I diagnosis my patient correctly?”

Amanda Herbert: Knowing that you are good enough! When you are in a room full of doctors and residents and your skin color, hair, background, and body type are different, the question sometimes arises: Am I good enough to be in this room? I must remind myself, with all my differences, I bring something unique to the table that makes me better than “good enough.”

Mr. Nwosu: People tend to gravitate to people who look like them, people they feel they can relate to and trust. In the rotation I’m on right now, most of the parents and patients are African American. We need more Black doctors so we can educate that community on how to take care of their body and address health morbidities before they even become an issue. Trust is huge in the patient-doctor relationship, so training more minority physicians can help increase medical knowledge and compliance of practices within minority populations.

 

“Representation matters and it is critical to combat the long-standing history of mistrust that exists between the healthcare systems in minority communities.”

 

Hannah Terefe: I think there’s always going to be more work to be done in improving the culture we are expected to thrive in. With the increase in awareness and conversations surrounding topics that affect Black and Brown doctors, I’m hopeful that we can one day get to a point where we are able to claim our spaces within the medical field comfortably. Until then, we will continue to further the legacy of those who came before us and fight for our voices to be heard and respected.

School of Medicine student, Okechukwu Nwosu.

SGU: What do you love most about your work/studies?

Dr. Shackelford: By choosing to become a primary care physician, specifically trained in family medicine, I find immense joy in those long-lasting relationships that I can have with my patients and their families through all walks of life. The continuity is unmatched! I thoroughly enjoy being at the center of their healthcare team and making sure that I am doing my best for these individuals to help prevent illnesses.

Dr. Osunwa: I love to see a positive end to any situation I’m dealing with—whether it’s a tough diagnosis that has been worked up for several days or a patient who has been on the decline that finally makes a turnaround for a full recovery.

Celebrating Black History Month: SVM students and grads eager to pave the way for change in veterinary medicine

Ms. Cheong: I love learning about the different systems in medicine and how each system interconnects. It truly allows for me to look at the body holistically and approach medicine with an open mind.

Ms. Terefe: During my last rotation in OB/GYN, I realized that no matter what specialty or field of medicine you’re interested in, there’s always more work to be done in protecting the safety, well-being, and mental health of our patients. This aspect of medicine is what keeps me motivated to continuously study to ensure that I provide my patient with the best holistic care possible.

School of Medicine student, Hannah Terefe.

SGU: How can Black doctors “pay it forward”? How do you plan to make a difference? 

Dr. Shackelford: I think the best way to “pay it forward” is to continue to be advocates for the minority patients we serve and to help create opportunities for future black physicians that will come after us. Working towards eliminating the health disparities that exist within our communities will lead these vulnerable populations towards better health outcomes.

Dr. Osunwa: As the saying goes “charity begins at home.” I plan to continue advocating for those who I am in close contact with and letting that light illuminate others. If each of us take a part in advocating and correcting microaggressions the workplace, it will make a broad difference overall.

Ms. Cheong: By serving underprivileged communities where people don’t have adequate access to healthcare and insurance. And by becoming mentors for the medical community, being available, and remembering where we all started and where we are all heading. I want to serve as a mentor and tutor to students in the field of medicine. I will advocate for minorities in medicine by making sure there is diversity and inclusion programs where we attend school or a residency.

 

“I plan to pay it forward primarily through mentorship. I’ve watched students give up their dreams of becoming a physician mostly because they weren’t aware of how to seek support.”

 

Ms. Herbert: We must mentor up-and-coming black doctors every step of the way. The support I received from Black healthcare professionals on my journey was priceless. I plan to make a difference by allowing pre-med students to shadow my practice.

Mr. Nwosu: Black doctors can pay it forward by inspiring our youth by visiting elementary schools. We need to make these areas of expertise as exciting as the areas of athletics and entertainment within black culture. Holding each other accountable and helping each other strive for greatness will increase the interest of young African Americans in going into the fields of science, technology, and mathematics.

Ms. Terefe: I plan to pay it forward primarily through mentorship. In the last few years, I’ve watched students give up their dreams of becoming a physician mostly because they weren’t aware of how to seek support. Mentorship looks different for everyone. For me, it means serving as a bank of experiential knowledge for others. If I can hand off the lessons I’ve gained, then they can continue to build upon their own foundation and path to medicine.

 

School of Medicine student, Amanda Herbert.

 

 

— Paul Burch

 

 

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Marine, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Degree Gains Accreditation from Royal Society of Biology

St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) is pleased to announce that the Bachelor of Science Honors (BSc Hons) in Marine, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (MWC) has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). It becomes the first program in the Western Hemisphere to obtain this distinction, further establishing SAS as a premier higher learning institution in the Caribbean. 

The degree program is housed within the SAS’s Department of Biology, Ecology, and Conservation (BEC). It is only the 11th program outside of the United Kingdom to earn RSB accreditation, which will last through the end of 2026.  

“We are very enthusiastic not only about the breadth of opportunities available in this program but also about its potential for current and future students,” said Dr. Lucy Eugene, dean of the SAS. “There is nowhere quite like Grenada for studying marine and terrestrial biology, and we’re so proud of what this program has become, and of all the incredible faculty and staff members who helped us attain this accreditation.”  

This marks another accreditation by an international body joining other SGU programs: 

  • School of Medicine: Grenada Medical and Dental Council (GMDC) 
  • School of Veterinary Medicine: American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) 
  • SAS BSc Nursing degree: Grenada Nursing and Midwifery Council (GNMC) and the Caribbean’s Nursing Board
  • Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Master of Public Health (MPH) degree: Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)

“With this accreditation, our students can be confident that their program is consistent with internationally recognized standards and that they are prepared to undertake graduate programs,” said Dr. Cristofre Martin, chair of the Department of Biology, Ecology, and Conservation. “It also gives future employers and advisors confidence that their employees have been well trained in marine and terrestrial biology,” 

To graduate, students are required to complete 121 hours of coursework in lectures, the laboratory, and in the field, where they develop skills required to conduct ecological surveys, measure abiotic parameters, and manage and analyze data, while implementing a research design.  

“Grenada is ideal to study marine, wildlife, and conservation biology,” said Dr. Patricia Rosa, BEC deputy chair and MWC program director. “It offers a unique learning environment considering our classrooms are rainforest, dry forest, mangroves, estuaries, freshwater, and ocean ecosystems. This diversity of ecosystems is also readily accessible; one can go from the beach to a mountain peak in the same day.”  

 

“We’re so proud of what this program has become, and of all the incredible faculty and staff members who helped us attain this accreditation.”

 

All students must also complete an independent research project and a capstone thesis in their final year to graduate. Upon doing so, graduates receive an accredited honors degree and a certificate outlining the mastery of 75 technical skills related to marine biology, as well as transferrable job skills such as leadership, communications, and project management. 

“This accreditation will lead to more opportunities and recognition for our students and graduates,” said Dr. Rosa. “It will also enable our department to enhance research capacity and train more highly qualified personnel for conservation in the Caribbean.” 

What graduates are saying about the MWC program

Farihah Khan (Trinidad and Tobago), Class of 2019: 

“I can confidently say that my time at SGU as a MWC student was well spent.  The program’s high academic standards allowed me to develop a solid foundation in science and instilled in me a strong work ethic and sense of professionalism. Its Environment Conservation Outreach (ECO) student organization also encouraged me to balance academic work with extracurricular club activities. The rapport between students and educators was excellent and the teaching is unparalleled. It sets you on a positive trajectory as you enter the working world or continued studies.” 

Saiyana Baksh (Guyana), Class of 2021: 

“My experience at SGU has been no less than exceptional and enlightening. The University overall is challenging, and being an international student had additional challenges. SGU’s commitment to providing students with high academic and professional skills is constant and reliable. It has made me capable of handling anything that’s thrown my way. Their commitment to quality education allowed me to reach a level of maturity and wisdom that may not have been possible under different circumstances.” 

Brief report from October SOM faculty meetings

The SOM faculty meeting and clinical departmental meetings, held on October 16 and 17, were an excellent opportunity to hear updates from basic sciences and clinical colleagues, despite being held virtually.  

The Saturday, October 16 plenary session was an overview of the changes to the school’s administrative structure, with  presentations by SOM Dean Dr. Marios Loukas, Dr. Robert Grant, senior associate dean for clinical studies, Dr. Arlette Herry, assistant dean of multicultural affairs, and Dr. Brenda Kirkby, associate dean of accreditation.  

The plenary was followed by breakout sessions on subcommittee topics relating to the accreditation self-study. Breakout session topics included:  

  • Institutional setting and governance;  
  • Curriculum governance and content; 
  • Curriculum delivery and structure, and assessment methods and outcomes; 
  • Students;
  • Academic environment and institutional effectiveness (diversity, learning environment and quality assurance); and 
  • Faculty affairs and faculty development.   

The lively and informative discussions of these sessions were a valuable opportunity for basic sciences faculty, affiliate clinical faculty, and administrators to meet and discuss topics of common interest.  

Clinical department meetings were held on Sunday, October 17.  Discussion topics included: 

  • Changes to clerkship assessments 
  • Comparability across clinical sites within each discipline 
  • Sub-internships, and  
  • Standardized evaluation letters. 

We look forward to seeing you for the virtual SOM faculty meetings March 4-6, 2022. Please be reminded that all SOM faculty are expected to attend.  

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

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

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

The panel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Brett Mauser

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In the Community: SGU Faculty and Students Providing Crucial COVID Testing and Vaccinations in Grenada

As attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 continues, St. George’s University remains a trusted ally to the Government of Grenada, with several SGU faculty members and students stepping up to volunteer in the Government’s most recent initiative—hosting mobile testing and vaccination clinics throughout the island.

The team of SGU faculty volunteers was comprised of Drs. Nilo Alvarez Toledo, Sharmila Upadhya, Vivek Nuguri, Vajinder Singh, Kesava Mandalaneni, Karl Theodore, Subramanya Upadhya, Anthusia Hortance Pavion, Sheiban Shakeri, Edidiong Udoyen, Clayton Taylor, and Allister Rechea. They worked in close conjunction with the Ministry of Health’s team, including Drs. Carol McIntosh, Tyhiesia Donald, Nicole Forte, Nurse Audrey Lyons, and others, to reach out to the population in the countryside parishes of St. David, St. Patrick, St. Mark, St. John, and St. Andrew.

“As a physician, I know firsthand the importance of getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Vajinder Singh, deputy chair in the Department of Pathology at SGU. “With Grenada’s limited healthcare infrastructure and resources, I felt it was my duty to volunteer for the vaccination drive in the hopes that one day soon we can achieve ‘herd immunity.’ Our overall goal here is to reach the most remote parts of Grenada to spread awareness of the importance of getting vaccinated, and to test and vaccinate as many people as we can.”

“We are so proud of these initiatives and all of those who have been in the field to support our beloved host country with all-important testing and vaccinations,” said Dr. Charles Modica, chancellor of SGU. “The country and the citizens of Grenada have supported the University throughout our journey, every step of the way, and we’re glad to have people within our community who can lend a helping hand at this critical time.”

These mobile clinics are considered extremely beneficial in reaching the elderly and the most vulnerable on island, who by themselves would not have been able to go to the hospital or health centers to get vaccinated. The volunteers were able to administer hundreds of vaccines, provide education on the need to get vaccinated, and conduct testing for COVID-19.

 

“The country and the citizens of Grenada have supported the University throughout our journey, every step of the way, and we’re glad to have people within our community who can lend a helping hand at this critical time.”

 

“The need of the hour is to vaccinate as many people as possible against COVID-19,” stated Dr. Kesava Mandalaneni, assistant professor of neuroscience in the SOM. “As a proud Grenadian (at heart), and more importantly as a physician, I feel obligated to stand with my brothers and sisters in the healthcare fraternity, who are working tirelessly to contain the effects of COVID-19 in our communities.”

SGU Nursing Students Heed the Call to Volunteer

Also, eager to lend a helping hand were School of Arts and Sciences students in the SGU Nursing Program. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the future nurses have been volunteering at health centers across the country, providing Grenada’s healthcare professionals with much-needed assistance, a chance for a break, and camaraderie. As Grenada enters its second week of a two-week restriction of movements on weekends, the nursing students have also volunteered to work at pop-up testing and vaccination clinics in rural villages island wide.

“I choose to volunteer because I heard the call for help and I decided to answer it,” said Kayonna Jones, a second-year nursing student at SGU. “I also believe that volunteering will not only benefit me as a student in gaining hands-on experience working alongside other healthcare professionals in a pandemic, but also my hard work and commitment to educating, testing, and vaccinating will also help to ensure a safe environment for the Grenadian community.”

“The concepts of altruism and selflessness are synonymous with nursing,” said Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair and director of the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, SGU. “Many of our students have volunteered, working above and beyond to assist their colleagues, and local communities during the COVID 19 pandemic. Although students, they have the skills that are needed and, under supervision, can meaningfully contribute—giving support to their future colleagues on the front line. At SGU, we have a commitment to provide excellence in education, which in turn translates to excellence in care. I am so humbled and proud of our SGU nursing students.”

SGU and Grenada Partnership

As many countries, including Grenada grapple with the ramifications of the persistent coronavirus pandemic, St. George’s University has reaffirmed its commitment to its host country. From partnering with the Government of Grenada on managing donations to help combat COVID-19, to providing expert advice from its alumni on Grenada broadcast networks, SGU continues to be a loyal partner in helping to limit the spread of the virus.

In close collaboration with the Government, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), a research and education foundation based at SGU, one of the first diagnostic testing facilities in the Caribbean and was established at the True Blue campus. SGU’s testing site has since become a beacon of excellence for the entire region, with its diagnostic team helping to design and set up the Ministry of Health’s testing site at Grenada General Hospital, including training of lab staff and troubleshooting with initial qPCR lab testing.

Additionally, responding to the need of the General Hospital, which had just two ventilators, designed to mechanically assist patients with breathing, for the entire population of more than 100,000 people—St. George’s University utilized its international resources to facilitate the acquisition and delivery of 18 additional ventilators.

SGU also secured tens of thousands of pieces of personal protection equipment, ranging from gloves and gowns to goggles and facemasks, for medical personnel as well as members of the community. In addition, the University was able to bring in 18 combination defibrillator monitors, two handheld ultrasound machines, two portable X-ray machines, as well as blood gas analyzers and supplies.

“The people of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique are extremely resilient,” added Dr. Mandalaneni. “They have overcome many challenges in the past and will do so once again. With the help from our SGU community, we will all do our part to overcome this challenge together, so that we advance and prosper as one people and one community.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

 

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SGU Announces Partnership with Kwantlen Polytechnic University

St. George’s University announced a new direct admission partnership with Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia, Canada.  

Each student admitted to the new 4+4 program will receive a $10,000 scholarship to begin studies in medicine or veterinary medicine at SGU following completion of their undergraduate degree at KPU. 

“We’re proud to team up with Kwantlen Polytechnic University to provide a direct pathway for students to pursue careers in medicine,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “With US and Canadian medical school admissions more competitive than ever, this partnership can relieve students of the stress of the standard application process.”

Students can gain provisional acceptance any time during their first three years at KPU. They learn if they’re accepted to the KPU/SGU program in the fall of their fourth year. All applicants must complete a degree in health sciences. To qualify, medical school applicants must maintain a 3.4 grade point average and record a competitive score on the MCAT. Veterinary applicants must maintain a 3.2 grade point average and post a score of at least 300 on the GRE.  

Upon graduation, successful applicants may enroll immediately at SGU. Medical students have the opportunity to spend one year at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. 

Admitted students are eligible for merit and need-based financial aid, in addition to the $10,000 grant from St. George’s. Graduates of St. George’s can pursue residencies throughout the United States and Canada.

“Canada is facing acute shortages of both doctors and veterinarians,” said Sandra Banner, SGU’s director of admission for Canada. “Partnerships like this one can boost the number of skilled professionals working in these fields—and help people make their dream of becoming a physician or veterinarian a reality.” 

“We are very excited about this new partnership with St. George’s University in Grenada. It has been years in the making,” said Carole St. Laurent, associate vice president, KPU International. “This partnership will not only provide the opportunity for our health science students to achieve their goals to become doctors, it will also make KPU an attractive destination for local and international students to more readily access a graduate level education in medicine by beginning their educational journey at KPU.” 

“This partnership is welcome news to our students who will now have the opportunity to pursue their dreams to become doctors,” said Dr. Elizabeth Worobec, dean of the Faculty of Science and Horticulture at KPU. “The seats for medical schools in the lower mainland are highly competitive, so for many of our students, a chance like this to study abroad to fulfill their goals is a welcome opportunity.” 

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High-Achieving SVM Students and Faculty Honored at Spring Virtual Awards Ceremony

Screen shot courtesy of SVM student Briana Kinsey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The School of Veterinary Medicine recognized students and faculty who exhibited academic excellence, outstanding work ethic, and a strong commitment to the field during last month’s SVM Spring 2021 awards ceremony.

“Students who were named during the awards ceremony are the best of the best when it comes to exemplifying the qualities needed to become exceptional veterinarians,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of the SVM. “With the added challenge of learning during a global pandemic, the honorees have especially excelled, and we are so proud of their accomplishments at SGU.”

Dr. Olson, Mr. Brendon LaGrenade, SGU’s vice provost for institutional advancement, and Dr. Anne Marie Corrigan, associate dean of academics, addressed the online crowd. In addition to a wide range of traditional awards acknowledging the best students in all classes, student organizations could nominate students and faculty/staff for an award.

Two new awards were presented this semester:

  • Dean Olson’s Award for Academic Excellence, given to Term 3 students with the highest GPA (as of the end of Term 2) and who embodies professionalism. The award has a combined value of $2,000 EC, split among the nominees.
  • SGA SGU Awards of Excellence is a new award given by the Student Government Association recognizing SGU faculty and staff members who play an integral part in vet students’ success.

During the virtual event, the SVM also held its Phi Zeta Honor Society inductions as well as the traditional Term 6 student slideshow sendoff, a compilation of photos taken to highlight students’ time at SGU before they head into their clinical year. It was the first time that all three events were held together.

Dr. Rhonda Pinckney will retire on June 30 after 17 years at SGU.

The awards event also acknowledged retiring faculty member Dr. Rhonda Pinckney, a professor of veterinary parasitology within the Department of Pathobiology, and one of the longest serving SVM faculty members. Dr. Pinckney has been with SGU since 2004 and will retire on June 30.

The SVM hopes to be able to resume the award ceremony in person for the fall term.

Zoetis Awards

Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholars Award: April Perez, Sonali Desai, Pricilla Leinberger

Zoetis Revolution Awards
Small Animal Surgery Award: Kristie Armas

Small Animal Internal Medicine: Montana Loveday

Equine Medicine Award: Amanda Broeder

Production Animal Medicine Award: Haley Embleton

Scholarship of Service Award: Elizabeth McGarvey

Student Research Award: Glenna Raycroft Maur

Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award: Dr. Nicki Wise

Outstanding Colleague Awards

Term 1: Stephanie Nickerson

Term 2: Maureen Kruhlak

Term 3: Leandra Margolies

Term 4: Sheridan Nichols

Term 5: Adriana Kalaska

Term 6: Krystal Mendoza

Dean Olson’s Award for Academic Excellence Recipients for Spring 2021

Letty Bonilla, Daria Ehrenberg, Melissa Ferguson, Lauren Fleming, Acacia Johnson, Jennifer Memleb, Teylor Nealy, Cristians Rivas Morales, Aleeka Roberts, Samuel Ruch, Valerie Savino

Adrienne Lotton Memorial Award

Nakia Sweetman

SVM Alumni Scholarship Award

Cody Cragnolin

Giant Paws Giant Hearts Foundation “Hercules” Award

Cody Cragnolin

PAWS Recognition for Term 6 Facilitators

Krystal Mendoza, Collin Leisz, Camille Ogden, Anna Ritz, Elizabeth McGarvey, Amanda Broeder

Veterinary Public Health CommitteeOne Health One Medicine” Community Leader Award

Caitlin Nay

Student Organization Awards                   

SGUSVM Large Animal Society Most Valuable Sixth Term LAS Member Award

Maggie Pratt Isgren

Student Chapter of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists Most Valuable Pathologist Award

Taryn Paquet

Wellness Committee MVP Award

Chandler Case

TherioHERO Award (faculty award)
Dr. Firdous Khan

Student Chapter of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Awards

Student Winner: Vittoria Lipari
Faculty Winner: Dr. Anne Corrigan

Student Chapter of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society

Student Winner:  Tasha Faletti
Faculty Award: Dr.  Anne Corrigan

Student Government Association Awards

SGUSVM Outstanding Faculty Award Recipients

Term 1-3: Dr. Rhonda Pinckney
Term 4-6: Dr. Firdous Khan

**NEW** SGA SGU Awards of Excellence (faculty award)

Terms 1-3: Ms. Tandy James
Terms 4-6: Ms. Naudia Dundas

George B. Daniel Award

Maria Coppola

The Pinckney Parasitology Award

Brianna Shepke, Lance Shen Kenny

Alpha Delta Chapter of the Society of Phi Zeta

Spring 2021 Inductees

Term 5 Inductees

Alexa Albam, Richard Brown, Devin Curtsinger. Briana Howard, Adriana Kalaska, Nadine Pearsall, Elizabeth Russell. Dawson Ruschkowski Tess Talmage, Kiersten Yndestad

Term 6 Inductees

Taylor Adams, Marisa Curro, Erica Foster, Annelise Godau, Krystal Mendoza, Hannah Narburgh, Camille Ogdon, Alexa Pensabene, Sarah Quinlan, Anna Ritz, Jaren Rodier, Sofija Todorovic, Katherine Williams

Term 6 Students Inducted Last Term

Jacqueline Compta, Cody Cragnolin, Molinaro Goode, Kyra Gore, William Holl, Cullen Kurgan, Abigail Kenly, Vittoria Lipari, Taryn Mooney, Romina Morgan, Kelly Ramos, Jaimie Remillard, Yu Wang

Phi Zeta Specialty Faculty Recognition for Their Work in Promoting Research and Scholarship

Dr. Firdous Khan, Dr. Heidi Janicke

 

Screen shot courtesy of SVM student Briana Kinsey.

 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

Equity in medicine the focus of new SGU scholarship

St. George’s University’s new scholarship program—the Equity in Medicine scholarship—focuses on developing strong physician pipelines in underserved areas by recruiting students from these areas and encouraging them to return home to practice.

According to Health Resources and Services Administration, medically underserved areas are areas designated as having too few primary care providers and other factors.

Read about two Equity in Medicine Scholarship recipients who are committed to working in areas where care is needed most.

Anders Grant

Hometown: Bronx, NY

Her commitment: Primary care on Native American reservation

Anders Grant spent more than 20 years as a dietitian on the East Coast and in Texas. Years later, after raising her own children, she began working with various tribes on the Native American Reservation—where medical school called out to her.

In her three and a half years there, she “fell in love with the communities and the people.” Aided by the Equity in Medicine scholarship at St. George’s University, Ms. Grant is committed to returning to the reservation—a medically underserved area—when she becomes a physician.

“The people were so interested in teaching me their ways, and because I love languages, I immediately tried to learn the Navajo language. It was very reciprocal,” she said. “Once I showed that I wanted to learn their culture, that I wasn’t someone who said a casual hello, we became more like a family.”

Healthcare access and education is limited in and around the various Reservations. According to Ms. Grant, it takes upward of an hour to drive to visit with a healthcare professional, and even then, staff and resources are limited.

Ms. Grant is especially focused on the treatment and prevention of diabetes, working closely with children and families on the reservation to address the root of the problem—obesity. As an ultra-marathon runner, she offered diet and exercise programs for children that yielded tremendous results and was soon adopted by many parents.

“What I really emphasized was moving,” she said. “They saw me running out there every day, which showed that I practice what I preach. If I can get the children to start improving their health now, oh my goodness, the future is unlimited.”

Using the foundation she receives at SGU, Ms. Grant is committed to making a lasting difference in returning to the Native American Reservation.

“I can’t wait to get back,” she said. “I want to prove to them in person that you can never give up. It’s never too late to make your dreams come true.”

Taylor James

Hometown: Forest City, NC

Her commitment: Rural medicine

In rural America, state-of-the-art technology and a wealth of resources may only be found at a great distance. Growing up in the foothills of North Carolina, Taylor James has seen the consequences of such deficiencies firsthand—and they have shaped her career path.

When she was just four years old, her father passed away after a medical mishap during a surgical procedure on his hand. According to Ms. James, the anesthetic was administered in a blood vessel, inadvertently numbing his heart, and no available medication could reverse the effect. She attributes the mistake, in part, to a lack of resources at her local hospital.

“I didn’t really recognize it until I moved away and saw what other places are like,” said Ms. James, now a first-term student at St. George’s University. “As I grew older, I better understood what happened to my dad, why it happened, and now I want to figure out how to combat these problems in small towns like mine.”

She has been laser focused—graduating a semester early from North Carolina State University, with a degree in human biology. During her studies, she gained valuable clinical experience at the University of North Carolina’s emergency medicine department as well as WakeMed Cary Hospital.

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As a Spanish minor, she also completed a doctor shadowing assignment in Spain, an experience she said: “instilled the importance of cultural competence.” She has used her bilingualism to communicate with—and ease the minds of—Spanish-speaking patients.

While she is keeping her options open, Ms. James is leaning toward a career in primary care, to become a valuable resource in a community that needs it. She even foresees opening up her own family medicine clinic and is grateful for the financial flexibility she has to do so through receiving the Equity in Medicine Scholarship from SGU.

“I was so shocked and so thankful to receive the scholarship,” she said. “I have really enjoyed my first few weeks at SGU. It’s a lot of studying—which I expected—but I don’t think I expected the overwhelming amount of resources and support SGU provides to ensure that we’re successful.”

– Brett Mauser

SGU ranks as #1 source of physicians in US workforce

In cities and towns across the United States, in specialties spanning all of medicine, St. George’s University graduates are making an undeniable impact on healthcare.

According to a recent report from the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), 11,627 SGU graduates were licensed to practice medicine in the US in 2019, making it the largest source of doctors for the entire US workforce—ahead of any other US or international medical school.

“We stand back and marvel at the outstanding work being done by our graduates in all corners of the US and the world,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of SGU. “The impact that they have made—and will continue to make—on patients, their families, and their communities is truly immeasurable.”

SGU alumni are crucial to addressing the country’s physician shortage, which is projected to climb as high as 139,000 across all specialties by 2033 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This shortage is attributed to population growth and aging, as well as large portion of the physician workforce nearing retirement age.

 

In 2021, more than 1,070 SGU graduates will begin their residencies across the United States, marking the seventh year in a row in which SGU was the number one provider of new doctors to the US healthcare system per data as of April 2021. They’ll enter 21 different specialties ranging from neurology and orthopedic surgery to pathology and anesthesiology.

Hundreds of these grads will enter primary care, a field in dire need of physicians in the United States. According to the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), more than 83 million Americans live in primary care health professional shortage areas (HPSA).

“We are proud of the impact that our graduates have had in the US and around the world,” said Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor of SGU. “As a University, we look forward to providing a sturdy foundation for our students to become well-equipped, well-rounded physicians for many years to come.”

– Brett Mauser