Alumni Association CME Welcomes Back Experts in Art of Medicine

St. George’s University School of Medicine students present research posters during an alumni association continuing ed conference.

Physicians are seen as experts in “the science” of medicine, but being an expert in “the art” of medicine is of equal importance. This art is the therapeutic and caring relationships that physicians build with their patients, which aids science in effecting a cure for illness and suffering. This spring’s School of Medicine Alumni Association (SOMAA) continuing medical education conference in Grenada examined medicine as a scientific study and its practice as an art. The four-day conference, titled “The Art of Medicine,” was held for the third time in association with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). It featured more than 50 prominent SOM alumni, including local faculty presenters discussing a wide variety of topics across the medical landscape.

“With the size and quality of the conference growing each year, so does its value increase to both our alumni and current SGU students,” said SOMAA President Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83. “In addition to the alumni acquiring CME credits, the students benefit from alumni who are some of the top specialists in their fields. They can ask us the important questions about their medical careers going forward, allowing us the opportunity to share our insight about the rigors of this profession.

“Overall, the conference provides a time to learn, to enjoy Grenada, and give back to the island,” added Dr. Bonanno.

Daniel Herr, MD ’81, an associate professor at St. George’s University and chief of critical care services at University of Maryland Medical Center, also returned to the island he once called home. As a recognized expert in the field of critical care, Dr. Herr is often invited to speak at medical conferences on topics concerning novel/new treatments and therapies for crucially ill patients.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for Grenada and SGU, for giving me the opportunity to become a doctor,” stated Dr. Herr. “I want to be involved and to come back to the island in order reconnect with the place that has given me so much. With more than 20,000 graduates across all schools, our goal is to get as many of us as possible to return and congregate to help present-day students.”

Additionally, the SOMAA provided plenty of opportunities for attendees to soak up some sand, sea, and fun while relaxing on island. The group enjoyed a sightseeing tour of Grenada’s natural beauty; lunch at Belmont Estate, a fully functional and historic plantation; a shopping tour of Grenada’s capital, St. George’s; a Catamaran VIP day cruise including snorkeling and a visit to the Underwater Sculpture Park and Hog Island; and a closing sunset dinner at Louis and Marion Modica Hall.

“The power of CME is that we bring physicians from all over the United States together to listen, learn, and reconnect with each other and St. George’s University—bringing them back to their roots,” said Robert Alig, the newly appointed vice president of alumni affairs, at St. George’s University. “SGU is the foundation for their careers as physicians, so bringing our alumni back to campus affords a unique opportunity for them to interact with current students; and I see the enthusiasm in the students as the alumni connect with them, giving everyone optimism for the continued success of the University.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

US Ambassador to Eastern Caribbean Visits Grenada to Discuss Community Outreach, Women’s Empowerment

Senior officials from the US State Department visit St. George’s University to speak with student leaders about community outreach and women’s empowerment. Discussions were led by US Ambassador Linda Taglialatela, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie Chung, Caribbean Affairs Director Katherine Dueholm, Deputy Political Economic Counselor Rachel Meyers, and Principal Officer Stephen Frahm.

Community outreach and women’s empowerment were at the forefront as St. George’s University’s student organization leaders welcomed senior officials from the United States to campus on March 8. Among the distinguished guests were Linda Taglialatela, US Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, and Julie Chung, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and other senior US State Department officials.

Representatives from groups such as the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, the Student American Veterinary Medical Association, and Women in Medicine shared their many contributions to the island, from the well-attended One Health One Medicine health fairs to a 5K road race that supports breast cancer awareness.

Since the visit coincided with International Women’s Day, students took the opportunity to seek advice on balancing gender inequality in the workplace, and in the State Department in particular. Both Ambassador Taglialatela and PDAS Chung shared some of their own experiences as women in the workplace dealing with gender inequality. Each encouraged students to be prepared for any situation or discussion, and when in a position of power, to assist other women in making the climb upward.

The visit ended with a tour of the True Blue campus and PDAS Chung expressing the hope that this visit would reaffirm the United States’ commitment to forging stronger bonds with Grenada and other Eastern Caribbean countries.

SGU Students Register 96 Percent First-Time Pass Rate on USMLE 1 in 2018

The more than 1,200 St. George’s University medical students who took the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 for the first time in 2018 registered a 96 percent pass rate, marking the eighth consecutive year that SGU’s overall pass rate reached or eclipsed 95 percent.

Those sitting for the exam posted a mean score of 224, especially impressive considering they hailed from 49 countries across five continents. Canadian first-time test takers posted a 99 percent pass rate and mean score of 230.

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

Sixteen SGU Graduates Secure Residency Positions in Canada Through CaRMS Match

Aspiring physicians from Canada have long used St. George’s University School of Medicine as a springboard to a career in medicine, and that much was evident this month as 16 SGU students and graduates obtained first-year residency positions through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS).

This summer, SGU alums will begin postgraduate training in fields such as anatomy and pathology, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry, matching into positions at hospitals in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan. Since 2010, more than 140 SGU graduates have earned residency positions in Canada.

“We are delighted that our physician graduates continue to bolster the Canadian healthcare system,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “Canada is in need of great doctors across all provinces and specialties, and we wholeheartedly believe that SGU graduates fit that mold.”

 

“I’m so grateful and happy to be going to Ottawa.”

Vanessa Lauzon, Year 4 MD Student

 

It was an exhilarating day for SGU students who are amid their fourth-year clinical training in the United States and Canada. After completing rounds in New York City, Vanessa Lauzon, MD ’19 (expected), waited anxiously with two colleagues as noon approached. She felt confident in her chance to match in Canada, having scored well on Canadian board exams and received numerous residency interviews countrywide.

Ms. Lauzon rejoiced upon learning she had matched at her top-choice institution—the family medicine residency program at the University of Ottawa, just 50 minutes from Montebello, QC, where she grew up.

“It was very nerve-wracking all morning, but then when I saw that I was going home, I cried and immediately called my family,” she said. “It’s life-changing. I can go back to Canada and start to build my life there.”

In addition to proximity to her family, Ms. Lauzon appreciated that the program is bilingual, allowing her to speak her native French, its opportunities for global health, its 1:1 physician/resident ratio, and 25 multidisciplinary sites at which residents’ opportunities to medicine run the full gamut.

The variety mirrors her St. George’s University experience. A graduate of McGill University’s nursing program, Ms. Lauzon opted to join SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program , for which students spend the first year of basic sciences at Northumbria University in the UK. Her studies then took her to Grenada, the United States, and Canada, having completed electives in Vancouver, BC; Sudbury, ON; and Montreal, QC.

She is enthused about the career that awaits her in Ottawa, including the opportunity for fellowship after residency. “I’m so grateful and happy to be going to Ottawa,” she said.

 

“SGU got me exactly where I wanted to be—my number one choice.”

Ryan Toews, Year 4 MD Student

 

On the day of the match, Ryan Toews, MD ’19 (expected) worked a 6am – 2pm emergency medicine shift at Ascension St. John’s Hospital in Detroit, MI, on the day of the match, meaning he waited more than two hours to find out where he was headed.

“It was perfect because it kept me busy,” Mr. Toews said. “I didn’t want to check at work because, no matter the result, I didn’t want it to affect patient care.”

The wait proved to be worth it. Mr. Toews was thrilled to discover he had matched into the family medicine residency program at the University of Saskatchewan’s site in Swift Current. He’ll practice just two hours from his hometown of Medicine Hat, AB.

After earning his nursing degree from the University of Calgary, Mr. Toews had applied twice to Canadian medical schools. Instead of delaying his dream further, he applied to and enrolled in SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, where he appreciated the small class sizes and introduction to the UK healthcare system. In addition to a strong basic sciences knowledge gained in the UK and Grenada, he prospered during two years of clinical training at St. John’s, an experience he called “superb.”

Now he’ll use the knowledge and skills he gained to treat citizens in and around Swift Current.

“SGU got me exactly where I wanted to be—my number one choice,” he said. “Even if I’d gone to medical school in Canada, I’d have picked Swift Current as my number one.”

 

“To end up exactly where I’d hoped to be is almost surreal. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Etai Shachar, Year 4 MD Student

 

Mr. Toews worked side by side with Etai Shachar, MD ’19 (expected), for much of his time in Detroit, although on the day of the CaRMS match, Mr. Shachar was in Toronto for an emergency medicine elective. As it turned out, that’s where he’ll continue his medical career as he matched into the University of Toronto’s EM program.

When he began his medical school journey, he hoped it would unfold just as it did.

“U of T has been my number one choice for quite some time,” Mr. Shachar said. “To end up exactly where I’d hoped to be is almost surreal. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Born and raised in Toronto, he double-majored in biology and medical sciences at the University of Western Ontario before obtaining his master’s degree in biotechnology at the University of Guelph. He chose to attend SGU because of its track record for student success in the US and Canada, and after hearing positive reviews from family friends who had graduated from SGU and are now practicing in New Jersey.

After two years in Grenada, Mr. Schachar strengthened his critical care resume with rotations in New York City and Detroit, which he said set him up well for Canadian residency interviews.

“As a student, I made sure to take advantage of the spectrum of hospitals that SGU has access to,” he said. “I really appreciated the diversity of cases that I saw, and learned to love and thrive on the energy and pace of the ER.”

The CaRMS match came two weeks ahead of the United States match, which takes place on Friday, March 15. In 2018, SGU students and graduates obtained a record number of residency positions, with 941 secured in the US alone. Visit our 2019 residency listing page for a complete list of SGU physicians who will begin their residencies this summer.

– Brett Mauser

St. George’s University, Jersey Shore University Medical Center Award CityDoctors Scholarship

Today, St. George’s University School of Medicine announced that it will award Interlaken, NJ resident Jake W. Schuler a 2019 CityDoctors scholarship on behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

“We’re excited to provide this scholarship to Jake,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “It’s a priority for us at St. George’s to make medical school accessible and affordable to aspiring doctors from a variety of backgrounds who are intent on returning home to New Jersey to practice.”

Mr. Schuler is the first recipient of a CityDoctors scholarship through SGU’s partnership with Jersey Shore University Medical Center. The scholarship will cover four years of tuition.

Priority consideration for the Jersey Shore University Medical Center CityDoctors scholarship is given to applicants who are from Monmouth or Ocean County or are affiliated with the Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Veterans, those with demonstrated financial need, and those from groups underrepresented in medicine also receive priority.

“This new scholarship program allows us to grow our academic programs and help area residents, perhaps even the children of our team members, pursue their dreams of becoming doctors,” says David Kountz, MD, MBA, FACP, vice president for academic affairs at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and co-chief academic officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “We’re thrilled to support Jake’s journey. While there is no commitment for students like Jake to return to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for their residency, we are hopeful they will want to return ‘home’ when they complete their studies.”

Other partners in the CityDoctors Scholarship Program include NYC Health + Hospitals and Hackensack University Medical Center.

St. George’s University is one of the leading providers of doctors to New Jersey—and the third-largest source of licensed physicians for the entire United States. In 2018 alone, more than 110 St. George’s University graduates began postgraduate residencies in New Jersey.

St. George’s University Signs Memorandum of Understanding with ARCH Education, Hong Kong

Commonwealth Secretary-General to Deliver Keynote at Education Conference in Grenada

The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, has agreed to deliver a keynote address at the annual conference of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC) in Grenada from May 21-23 at St. George’s University.

The CEC annual conference takes place biennially in a Commonwealth member country and the United Kingdom. This is the first time that it has been held in the Caribbean.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland

The title of the conference will be “Our Common Wealth: A Focus on Student Success.” Speakers who have also accepted the invitation include Dr. Joanna Newman MBE, Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities; Professor Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor Emeritus at the University of the West Indies; Dr. Jacky Lumarque, President of Quisqueya University, Haiti; and Professor Kenneth Matengu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Namibia, which hosted the CEC’s annual conference in 2017.

“There are a range of options and challenges facing the student community today, which previous generations did not have to face,” said Sonny Leong CBE, Chairman of the CEC. “The conference will explore the main challenges facing education provision in the 21st century in the Caribbean—and beyond, in the countries of our Commonwealth.”

“We are delighted to be hosting this conference,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “Over 20 percent of our students are from Commonwealth countries and we greatly value this association and the diversity it brings to our campus. We welcome representatives from government, education institutes, and teachers to work with us in developing answers and responses to the existing issues affecting education today and which impact student success.”

Patricia Scotland is the second Secretary-General of the Commonwealth from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.

Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program Hosts British Association of Clinical Anatomists Winter Meeting at Northumbria University

All elements of anatomy—the backbone of medicine—were on the table for discussion and examination at last month’s British Association of Clinical Anatomists (BACA) Winter Meeting at Northumbria University, UK. Hosted by St. George’s University’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, for which SGU’s medical students spend their first preclinical year on the NU campus, the meeting welcomed clinical anatomists, surgeons, and students from the UK and beyond.

Dr. James Coey, Assistant Dean of Basic Sciences at SGU’s Newcastle campus, and Dr. Sara Sulaiman, Teaching Fellow at the University of Bristol, hosted the meeting, which was attended by 80 delegates, primarily from the United Kingdom. It included 16 oral presentations and 29 posters covering gross, microscopic, clinical, applied, translational, surgical, and radiographical anatomy, as well as anatomy education.

The conference included a plenary lecture from Dr. Stephen Clark, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, and professor of cardiothoracic transplantation, presented on the topic “Heart Transplantation: Anatomy and Surgical Techniques.” SGU’s Marios Loukas, dean of basic sciences, professor of anatomical sciences and president of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) presented a keynote titled “A Snapshot of Anatomical Translational Research and its Applications.” SGU was further represented through two oral presentations and four poster presentations from clinical faculty (Drs. Al-Jaberi, Bourne, Ebot, Elajnaf and Hilal) and Nosheen Sandhu, a first-year medical student, working in a research group led by Drs. Coey and Hilal with local and international collaborative partners.

“I believe in collaboration as a channel of continuous advancement and progress,” Dr. Sulaiman said. “Hosting a BACA meeting where the best minds of anatomy come together under one roof for an entire day is the perfect opportunity to drive new ideas and foster future partnerships.”

“This conference has clearly demonstrated what can be achieved through reinforcing links between partner associations, establishing new academic and clinical connections, and fostering future collaboration,” added Dr. Coey. “Encouraging students, physicians, and academics alike to engage and participate is paramount to the future of our associations”

Dr. Sulaiman began attending BACA meetings when she was a student at the University of Dundee in Scotland, calling them a “supportive, nurturing environment” that helped her thrive as a researcher. Drs. Sulaiman and Coey went on to design a selective in 2015 for SGU students to introduce the research cycle and further their anatomical knowledge through a self-directing learning exercise. Since its inception, 33 students have presented their work at international conferences leading to publication abstracts in clinical anatomy.

“I’ve had my students attending and presenting across the years and I was so glad to see them benefiting from its encouraging and stimulating atmosphere as I did years ago,” she said. “To me, hosting a BACA meeting was a dream and being involved in organizing a world-class, well-recognized scientific meeting was truly an amazing experience.”

Founded in 1977, BACA aims to advance and publish the study and research of clinical anatomy in the United Kingdom. The organization hosts two scientific meetings each year, providing an opportunity for members and other attendees to network with fellow academics and clinicians who share an interest in anatomy. In addition, the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, a collaboration between BACA, AACA, and international associations from New Zealand, Australia (ANZACA), and South Africa (ASSA), publishes eight times each year, displaying original and review articles of scientific, clinical, and educational interest.

The success of BACA helped spawn the AACA in February 1983. Dr. Ralph Ger, a professor in Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Department of Anatomy, had attended the BACA meeting in 1982. He recognized the need for a better forum for clinicians, teachers and students to discuss the status and future of anatomy, and later became one of the AACA’s 18 founding members.

Professor Janet Hemingway CBE receives the 2019 Mike Fisher Memorial Award

The Mike Fisher Memorial Award has been given to Professor Janet Hemingway CBE, Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The announcement was made at a Dinner in the House of Lords, UK, in aid of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF)—the research arm of St. George’s University. Professor Hemingway was recognized for her work, over many decades, in a variety of areas affecting human and animal health.

The Mike Fisher Memorial Award—given annually since 2006—acknowledges the work of the late Mike Fisher, whose original research led to the discovery of the drug Ivermectin. Today as a result of the discovery, over 35 million people no longer live under the threat of blindness from onchocerciasis (river blindness), millions more have been spared the gross disfigurement from lymphatic filariasis, and countless animals live healthier lives because of ivermectin.

Hemingway is Professor of Insect Molecular Biology and Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, with over 450 staff based in Liverpool, Malawi, and several other tropical locations. She is a Senior Technical Advisor on Neglected Tropical Diseases for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and has 38 years’ experience working on the biochemistry and molecular biology of specific enzyme systems associated with xenobiotic resistance.

In 2012, Professor Hemingway was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to the Control of Tropical Disease Vectors, and this year she was conferred as an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Commenting on her achievement, Professor Hemingway said, “I was delighted and honored to receive the Mike Fischer award recognizing my contributions to the control of infectious diseases in the tropics for two reasons. First, the link with Mike himself and his role in the discovery of Ivermectin, which is still used today in combination with a number of the interventions I have pioneered for insect vector control. Second, the link with Grenada and the Caribbean islands, where I have worked on dengue for many years.”

MIKE FISHER AWARD RECIPIENTS
2006: Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior
2007: Dr. Keith B. Taylor
2008: Lord May of Oxford
2009: Dr. John David
2010: Lord John Walton
2011: Professor Ade Lucas
2012: Dr. Donald Hopkins
2013: Professor R. C. Andrew Thompson
2014: Professor Alan Fenwick
2016: Sir Gordon Conway
2017: Dr. Charles Modica
2018: Dr. Sarah Cleaveland
2019: Dr. Janet Hemingway

Robert Alig Named New Vice President of Alumni Affairs

In November, St. George’s University named Robert Alig as its new vice president of alumni affairs, a role for which he looks forward to connecting with the more than 20,000 graduates across the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies. We sat down with Mr. Alig to discuss his background and the goals that he has for SGU and its alumni.

St. George’s University: What elements of your background sets you up to take the reins of alumni affairs at SGU?

Bob Alig: I was the assistant vice president of alumni relations at the University of Pennsylvania for seven years, overseeing alumni programming and engagement for its four undergraduate schools and all graduate programs. Prior to that, I was the director of MBA admissions and financial aid at the Wharton School, for which I was able to travel to 35 countries and share the message of a place that, as an alum, meant a great deal to me. I saw firsthand the energy, commitment, and enthusiasm of Penn’s alumni, not only to give back in terms of philanthropy, but also their time, talent and enthusiasm.

Collectively, I saw what we could accomplish when working in partnership, and what the advocacy of Penn alumni meant for the momentum of the university, anchored in strengthening its reputation and expanding its international footprint. I think this experience dovetails beautifully with what I’ve observed and learned during my brief tenure here.   SGU is on a remarkable trajectory and it has so much to be proud of. I am committed to an alumni relations effort that reflects the momentum and the diversity of the University.

SGU: What do you hope to accomplish in the first few months?

BA: I think it’s vital to connect with alumni to understand their own paths to SGU and what made it a special place for them. Listening and learning now, and agreeing on a plan that leverages our unique strengths will position us for success and continued momentum.   

It’s also important to help alumni understand how SGU can support them in their careers, in their continuing education, and at the same time, for them to advocate for SGU. In years past, education was thought of as an episodic period of time—you’re a student for four years and you get your degree. Now, I think it’s much more about a lifetime of learning and engagement. SGU can and should be the intellectual home of its alumni.

Sometimes I think about my role as helping several thousand current SGU students to feel like alumni, and helping 16,000 SGU alumni feel like students, reconnecting them with their experiences and what’s currently happening on our True Blue campus.

SGU: What do you view as the biggest challenge that faces alumni affairs here and in general?

BA: I think getting my arms around alumni data here is very similar to the challenge I faced when I started at Penn. Every higher education institution struggles with capturing data and using it effectively.

SGU: How can staying connected with SGU help our alumni in their careers?

BA: It makes perfect sense that we could keep our alumni engaged so that they can learn from each other and tap into each other’s networks and experiences. The pace of change in our work and personal lives has escalated significantly. The practice of radiology—or any field—has evolved dramatically in the last 15 years, so it’s important that our graduates not only stay current, but set the standard for the future through continuing education and engagement with their alma mater.

SGU: In what ways are you looking to connect with SGU alumni?

BA: There is nothing better than meeting SGU alumni in person, ideally on the True Blue campus, but I’ve also connected with alumni via social media, phone, and email, and want to continue to do so. I want to quickly figure out how we can connect and make it easy for them to stay in touch with me, their fellow alumni, and SGU.