SGU Class of 2020 Joins Physician Ranks During Crucial Time in Healthcare

The format of this year’s St. George’s University School of Medicine commencement ceremony may have been different, yet it could not put a damper on the achievement, the celebration, and the pride felt by the Class of 2020 on Sunday.

For the first time in the school’s 43-year history, graduation festivities were held online as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, with families and friends from around the world tuning in to witness graduates’ official transition from medical student to physician.

This class of graduates will bolster a healthcare system at a time when highly skilled and knowledgeable physicians are greatly needed. All told, more than 1,100 SGU grads will begin first-year residency programs next month—across a wide range of specialties—in the United States and Canada. They are now part of a network of more than 18,000 SGU-trained physicians who have earned their medical degrees from SGU since its opened its doors in 1977, and over 22,000 grads in all schools.

The 2020 ceremony took place as the world’s attention has been focused on the fight for racial equality in the United States and around the world. Dr. Charles Modica, the University’s chancellor and co-founder, stated that SGU graduates are uniquely positioned to bring positive change to the world.

“St. George’s University has diversity in its core DNA,” he said in his address. “This class includes individuals from over 60 countries, all of whom have studied in Grenada—our home—and worked, lived, and played side by side for years with people from every race, color, creed, and nationality. Our faculty as well as our students are among the most diverse in the world. The totality of your multicultural experience at SGU will prepare you to be an exemplary citizen of the world as well as an extraordinary medical professional.”

Dr. Marios Loukas, dean of basic sciences in the School of Medicine, cited Aristotle in his address:“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

Dr. Loukas acknowledged that this year’s graduates took many different routes to come to SGU and to earn their MDs, but each is prepared to carry out a mission of helping humanity in their chosen field.

“It has taken hard work, constant effort, repetition, courage, and a lot of energy to overcome challenges, but you have ultimately done it,” he said.

Among those who earned his medical degree was Suyansh Sharma, MD ’20, a native Indonesian who will be headed off to an internal medicine residency at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. He is one of more than 450 graduates from the Class of 2020 who will begin their careers in New York and New Jersey this summer.

“I don’t think words can describe the feeling,” said Dr. Sharma. “I remember dreaming about this day when I was still on the island. I feel very grateful, especially to my parents along with SGU, each of which have given me an opportunity to come to the United States and practice medicine. I feel ecstatic that I’m going to be able to serve my community in a way that I think is really meaningful.”

Classmate Emily Wassmer, MD ’20, looks forward to joining residency at her top-choice pediatrics program, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, NY. After four years of medical school, seven different apartments and six different clinical training sites, she looks forward to practicing medicine at the very hospital she visited as a patient growing up on Long Island.

“It’s exciting, scary, and surreal,” said Dr. Wassmer. “It’s exciting to have all of these years of hard work finally pay off and to be able to settle in one place for a few years. It’s scary that we now have the autonomy to be responsible for our patients’ lives and that we’re going into this in the midst of a pandemic. And it’s surreal that it’s actually happening and we really are doctors now.”

To equip graduates with the proper graduation attire, the University sent robes and regalia to each new alum, and many shared images from before, during, and after the ceremony on social media. In lieu of an in-person ceremony, the Class of 2020 will be invited to walk with its SGU brethren at the traditional graduation site—Lincoln Center in New York City—next spring.

SGU’s web page celebrating the class of 2020 School of Medicine graduates captured students’ moments of celebration—on social media, with photos, and through stories. Visit the page online.

–Brett Mauser

SVM 2020 Grads Encouraged to Continue Learning to Keep Pace with The Changing World

Neil Olson, Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine

The School of Veterinary Medicine celebrated its 17th annual commencement on Saturday, June 6, with 180 students from nine countries and 39 US states graduating from the school. For the first time in history, the ceremony was held virtually, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“This is a very special day, particularly for the young women and men who have completed four years of rigorous veterinary medical education, in addition to several years of understudies and who in a few minutes will embark upon their professional careers as the world’s newest veterinarians,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

With the addition of these new graduates, the SVM will have produced nearly 1,800 Doctors of Veterinary Medicine since the first graduating class in 2003.

“This ceremony is a symbol of confidence that you are now equipped (to enter) into the world,” Dr. Olson said. “You must continue learning to keep pace with the changing world around us. Your academic qualification will help to open opportunities, but beyond that you must demonstrate your ability to learn and grow in the fields you choose. You will be stretched in many different directions throughout your career and you must rely on your core values to guide you.”

“Without question the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the enormous need for veterinarians engaged in One Health public health, epidemiology, and biomedical research,” he added.

During the ceremony, Dr. Charles Modica, the University’s chancellor and co-founder, conferred the degrees of the graduands, while Dr. Lauren Nikki Wise, associate professor in large animal medicine and surgery, lead the students in saying the Veterinarian’s Oath.

Ready for Anything

David Shcherbelis, DVM '20

David Shcherbelis, the keynote student speaker for the class of 2020, noted in his prepared remarks that the veterinary school experience has taught him and his classmates to persevere through challenging times. He plans to become an equine veterinarian, after just completing a six-month equine internship at Piedmont Equine Associates in Madison, GA, where he focused on theriogenology, sports medicine, and general practice.

“Today is a symbolic day, a day that we crossed the professional threshold,” he said in his address. “Finally, after all these years and the schooling we’ve done, people will refer to us as doctors. It’s the first day of our future.… All of us share a love for animals and a desire to be the best vet we can be.”

Dr. Shcherbelis celebrated the day with his fiancé and parents at his parent’s home in South Carolina.

“It can’t be understated … SGU taught me to push through,” he said in a follow-up interview. “I feel as though there is nothing I can’t do after coming from St. George’s,” encouraging future and current vet students to always keep pushing to better themselves.

Celebrating Across the World

Constance Nicholl, DVM '20

“St. George’s was some of the best years of my life,” said Constance Nicholl, DVM ’20, who returned to her home in Ireland to finish her clinical year at the University of Dublin. Dr. Nicholl is currently studying to take the UK-licensing exam through The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in August. She then plans to pursue a career in small animal medicine, specializing in orthopedic and soft-tissue surgery.

Once she is certified in her specialties of choice, Dr. Nicholl also plans to travel abroad to use her skills in different countries and thanks SGU for opening those doors of opportunity.

“For me, I’ve not only learned about veterinary medicine that applies to the United Kingdom and Europe, but I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about vet medicine in the US through St. George’s. It means that I can work anywhere I want in the world. So, having those opportunities is amazing,” she said.

Never Say No To Opportunity

Nia Rametta, DVM '20

“My biggest piece of advice is to never say no—take every single opportunity—because you never know where the opportunity is going to lead to,” said Nia Rametta, DVM ’20. “I am so fortunate for literally the whole SGU experience.”

One of her most treasured memories, besides moving to the island of Grenada, was traveling to Vienna, Austria with the International Veterinary Students Association (IVSA). The group toured the country’s veterinary school and she was able to take in the sights of the city. “That was an awesome opportunity,” she said.

Dr. Rametta, who originally hails from Pennsylvania, will be moving south to work as a small animal general practitioner at Banfield Pet Hospital in Largo, FL. She hopes to pursue an emergency medicine specialty, believing SGU has equipped her with not only critical vet medicine knowledge but the ability to handle any situation she comes across.

“I had so many opportunities for hands-on learning and that was a huge deal,” Dr. Rametta said. “That’s how I learn—I learn by doing. So, working hands-on from day one, I was able to work with live animals and learn the basics. That has helped me immensely during my clinical year at Auburn University because I felt more comfortable and confident of procedures being asked of me. I felt very prepared to be able to do hands-on procedures.”

Dr. Rametta spent graduation with her family, two cats, and adopted dog from Grenada.

Taking a Leap of Faith

Camille Richie, DVM ’20, grew up in Marco Island, FL, with the Everglades National Park and the Gulf Coast as her backyards. With her mother as a marine biologist and her father a ship’s captain, she has a passion for fishing and all things related to aquatic water life.

While going to SGU was a “huge leap of faith,” she said, “it was honestly, the best choice I could have made.”

“Moving to a different country really kind of set me up for getting out of my comfort zone and just kind of thinking through things differently than if I stayed in the US. Grenada really helped me grow as a person,” said Dr. Richie, who went to the University of Florida, Gainesville, for her undergraduate degree.

One of her most memorable experiences while at SGU was to help form the school’s World Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Association (WAVMA) chapter. As vice president of the chapter, she was in charge of organizing lionfish culls with local dive shops.

Along with boyfriend and chapter president Chris McMonagle, DVM ’21 (expected), they worked together to get the club off the ground, providing educational workshops about aquatic veterinary medicine, and bringing together students who had similar interests. The group also organized culls of lionfish, an invasive fish in the Caribbean.

“WAVMA was super important in my time at SGU because it helped me decide on the career path I want to follow, which is aquatic veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Richie, who also became dive-certified while in Grenada.

Dr. Richie will be starting a job at Banfield Hospital in Ocala, FL, at first focusing on small animal and exotics, and eventually working towards a specialization in marine mammal rehabilitation and aquatic veterinary medicine.

“For new students, that DVM degree seems like a long, long way away if you’re just starting Term 1, but trust me, it goes by so fast,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m already here and people are calling me ‘Doc’ now. I’m just super excited to start what I’m supposed to do in life.”

SGU’s web page celebrating the class of 2020 School of Veterinary Medicine graduates captured students’ moments of celebration—on social media, with photos, and through stories. Visit the page online.

— Laurie Chartorynsky

SGS Class of 2020 Encouraged to Embrace Its Uniqueness and the Prospects of Tomorrow

Dr. Calum Macpherson, SGS Dean

The School of Graduate Studies virtual commencement ceremony began with Dr. Calum Macpherson, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, and the University’s chancellor, Dr. Charles R . Modica, who offered the 2020 graduating class a warm welcome as well as congratulatory remarks.

Although the current health climate prompted St. George’s University to move its customary in-person event online, the 2020 School of Graduate Studies (SGS) commencement ceremony nevertheless featured the celebratory nature and well wishes that have become a hallmark of events held each year in Grenada. The virtual ceremony was held on held on Saturday, May 30.

In total, the class’s 150 graduands from 34 countries were bestowed degrees such as a Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy. In addition, SGU hosts the Gamma Kappa chapter of the Delta Omega Honors Society and inducted the top 10 percent of this year’s MPH graduates into the chapter for demonstrating excellence in education and scholarship in research and service.

To begin the online ceremony—the first of its kind in the University’s 43-year history—Dr. Calum Macpherson, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, and the University’s chancellor, Dr. Charles R. Modica, offered the 2020 graduating class a warm welcome as well as congratulatory remarks. They then gave the virtual stage to this year’s speaker, the Honorable Nickolas Steele, Grenada’s Minister for Health, Social Security, and International Business, who shared his excitement for the graduates’ future.

“Your class is unique in so many ways,” said Minister Steele. “Embrace that uniqueness and let it be the beacon that guides your future steps. You are armed with not just any education but with a St. George’s University education—an institution with not just a spirit but a mantra of overcoming challenges. So, go forward, onwards and upwards with your personal stock, the tools you have been given by SGU, the benefits of the battles you have just fought, and the certainty in the opportunities of tomorrow’s uncertainty.

“The difficult we do today, the impossible—tomorrow,” added Minister Steele. “You are the product of the very institution that epitomizes this and as such, the difficult you will do today, you will graduate today; the impossible you will do tomorrow, you will change the world.”

Class speaker Tanya Martelly, MBA ’20, offered a few heartfelt words on behalf of her fellow graduands, echoing the minister’s words acknowledging that this year had been filled with uncertainty and a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, anticipation, and excitement.

“However, regardless of the origins of the emotions we felt,” stated Ms. Martelly. “What caused each of us to start our academic journey was courage, and a desire to move forward in our lives. Today, I encourage you to seek and ascertain what your purpose is in this life and decide on the impact you want to have on this world beyond yourself. With courage and God’s leading, you will be able to make the difference that this world so desperately needs. God bless you all in your academic and professional endeavors and congratulations.”

The School of Graduate Studies was launched 17 years after establishing a successful  School of Medicine, further evolving St. George’s University as an international center for excellence. Last year, the school celebrated 25 years of excellence, having graduated more than 1,300 students. At present, the SGS has 34 different graduate degree programs, and also provides students the opportunity to earn dual degrees such as the DVM/MSc, DVM/MBA, MD/MSc, and MD/MPH, which has more than 1,000 graduates and celebrated its 20th anniversary, last year.

 

–Ray-Donna Peters

 

SGU Vice Chancellor Liebowitz Featured in International Business Times

Graduates of SGU's School of Medicine

An op/ed piece by SGU Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Liebowitz was recently featured in the International Business Times.

The article, Coronavirus Response: How International Medical School Graduates Can Help Fight COVID-19, explained the important role that international medical schools play in training highly-qualified students who eventually become much-needed physicians in the United States, especially when it comes to providing healthcare services to underserved communities.

“To reduce the threat posed by COVID-19—and other infectious diseases like it—our healthcare system must do a better job managing, treating, and preventing chronic disease, especially in vulnerable populations,” Dr. Liebowitz wrote. “Primary care physicians can do that job. And there’s no better source of primary care physicians than international medical schools. It’s time to bring more of their graduates in—and expand post-graduate training capacity to allow them to further their careers as US doctors.”

450 SGU Grads to Start Residencies in New York-New Jersey Area Hospitals

SGU alumni take a break during a shift at Queens Hospital Center to pose for a picture. Photo courtesy of Shivani Dave.

Gillian Woodruff, MD ’20 (expected), is “chomping at the bit” to get started as an internal medicine resident at NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens Hospital Center in Jamaica, NY—one of the hardest hit areas by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Ms. Woodruff, who aspires to be a gastroenterologist, joins 450 soon-to-be St. George’s University graduates who will enter residency this July at nearly 90 hospitals throughout New York and New Jersey. These new doctors will begin their careers across nine medical specialties, bringing much-needed help to facilities dealing with COVID-19.

With more than 150,000 cases of coronavirus in the New York City area alone (as of press time), Ms. Woodruff is well aware of the conditions she may enter at Queens Hospital when she begins her residency this summer.

“I have really been eager to be useful,” she said during a telephone interview from her home in Davis, CA. “Regardless of where I’m assigned, I am going to be supporting the pandemic effort, whether that’s taking care of primary care patients to free up another doctor or some other task that will be helpful. There is no uninvolved medical practitioner; everyone is going to be able to save lives from this, regardless of what they’re doing. I’m really proud and excited to be able to help in whatever way I can.”

Gillian Woodruff, MD ’20 (expected)

Gillian Woodruff, MD ’20 (expected), is eager to start as an internal medicine resident at NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens Hospital Center in Jamaica, NY—one of the hardest hit areas by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Hospitals throughout Greater New York City have been dealing with a record number of COVID cases and are in need of additional help to care for critically ill patients. SGU graduates who recently matched at New York and New Jersey hospitals will help to meet an immediate and growing demand for doctors in the region. Of those, 313 SGU students and graduates will start their residencies in hospitals in New York while 137 will begin their postgraduate training in hospitals in New Jersey. They join the 8,209 SGU graduates who have done their post-graduate training in New York and New Jersey hospitals over the years.

Overall, nearly 1,100 SGU students and graduates will begin their residencies across the United States and Canada this summer.

“We are very proud of our graduates and admire their dedication,” said Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor of St. George’s University. “We know they are well prepared and ready for the challenge that will be presented to them when they begin their postgraduate training in a few months. These newly matched students join a large number of our alumni who are already part of the heroic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Fortifying Tri-State Area Hospitals

As a result of the crisis, Uchechukwu Uneze, MD ’20 (expected), who will start as an internal medicine resident at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, in Newark, NJ, expects to be much more hands-on with patients than a typical first-year resident would be.

“Our job is to provide relief for the other residents who are working tirelessly and helping them out in any way we can,” said Mr. Uneze, who eventually wants to go into pulmonary care. “In this situation I am going to be in a place where this pandemic has hit really hard. I kind of look at it as this is a rare opportunity to serve, learn, and care for patients, rather than learn from a textbook and experience it years later.”

Uchechukwu Uneze, MD ’20 (expected)

Uchechukwu Uneze, MD ’20 (expected), will start as an internal medicine resident at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, in Newark, NJ.

Mr. Uneze, who went to Rutgers University in Newark for his undergraduate degree, said living in an underserved area strengthened his interest in medicine as he witnessed how the community was affected by limited healthcare resources. He returned to Newark to complete his clinical rotations there and ranked the hospital for residency because “I thought I would be able make a positive impact in those areas,” he said.

Elsewhere in New Jersey, Payal Patel, MD ’20 (expected), will start as an internal medicine resident at Hackensack University Medical Center. Ms. Patel, who hails from Lake Placid, FL, picked Hackensack as her first choice after completing her clinical rotations there. She said its internal medicine program, with new faculty, a focus toward academic teaching, and connections to big hospitals, appealed to her.

Payal Patel, MD ’20 (expected)

Payal Patel, MD ’20 (expected), will start as an internal medicine resident at Hackensack University Medical Center this summer.

While the COVID-19 crisis does add an extra layer of concern, it will not deter her from fulfilling her dream of becoming a physician, she added.

“I’m definitely both nervous and excited [to start residency], because we’re going to be thrown into the deep end when we start,” said Ms. Patel, who aspires to be a primary care doctor or become a hospitalist. “The hospital is taking good care of its residents, and as long as there is enough PPE and precautions taken, I am ready to face that. I’ve been working toward this goal for 20 years.”

How are our doctors helping during the COVID pandemic? Send us your story ideas. You can also share your story with us on social media by tagging SGU or using the hashtag #WeAreSGU and #SGUAlumni. 

 

–Laurie Chartorynsky

SGU Graduates Joining Front Lines in Brooklyn

Patch.com recently published a news story titled “Doctors Trained Outside US Making an Impact in Brooklyn,” in which it outlined how SGU alumni are helping to address the borough’s healthcare disparities and fight COVID-19 on the front lines.

In the story, writer Jeff Arnold spoke with SGU Vice Chancellor Richard Liebowitz about the growing role of St. George’s graduates—and all IMGs—in New York City.

“International schools such as St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies are sending medical school graduates back to the United States to begin residencies and ultimately begin full-time work. Over the past four years, St. George’s has placed 454 graduates into residency programs across nine hospitals in Brooklyn with medical professionals filling roles as emergency medicine, surgery, anesthesiology, and pediatrics. This year alone, 126 graduates of the school will be placed in Brooklyn-based residency programs.”

Dr. Liebowitz also shed light on how international medical schools offer aspiring US doctors a clear path to medicine: “International schools fill a huge void, and I think the key thing is finding the international school that has the quality of the US school.”

On the Front Lines of COVID-19: SGU Grad Shares Experiences Inside Psychiatric Hospital

Ryan Salahi, MD '04, ER Physician at San Diego Psychiatric Hospital

Ryan Salahi, MD ’04, lead ER physician and chief of medical staff for the San Diego Psychiatric Hospital, describes the strong connection with his team that has made caring for their patients, many of whom are now COVID-19 positive, a little easier.

“Finding a balance during these stressful times can be difficult, but I work with great colleagues, administrators, nurses, social workers, and other staff, and we’re like a family—which helps immensely. I’m grateful for them,” Dr. Salahi said.

While a number of patients having been diagnosed with COVID-19, the hospital faces unique challenges due to the nature of his patient cohorts: it’s difficult for many of them to follow instructions, such as social distancing; and they are not allowed to be given masks for fear of wearing them inappropriately or risk of hurting themselves.

To help staff, the hospital has implemented new protective measures, including: the building of entry COVID-19 screening tents; the creation of a decontamination room/ante-room in the entrance to its quarantine/isolation unit where all staff are required to don full PPE and remove properly to decontaminate upon exiting the unit; separating patients who are positive COVID-19 from those who are not; temporary suspension of family visitations; and other changes. In addition, the hospital is able to get direct access to prioritized testing and PPE distributions from San Diego County’s Emergency Operations Center, and other helpful resources.

Dr. Salahi and team have been using extra lengths to educate their patients about the coronavirus. “Interestingly, our psychiatric patients, while often times difficult and argumentative, were extremely open to learning about COVID-19 and we were able to successfully test 100 percent of our inpatients with no refusals,” he added.

Many St. George’s University graduates like Dr. Salahi are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, using their expertise to treat those who are critically ill, joining teams searching for short- and long-term solutions, and contributing in many other ways to help patients in need. SGU is sharing a number of these stories, with the hope that by hearing the experiences of others who are making a difference around the world, we can help reaffirm our students and doctors’ commitment to the medical profession.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be a doctor. As doctors, we care for sick people. It’s what we’re trained to do,” he said.

How are our doctors helping during the COVID pandemic? Send us your story ideas. You can also share your story with us on social media by tagging SGU or using the hashtag #WeAreSGU and #SGUAlumni. 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

 

Ryan Salahi, MD '04, ER Physician at San Diego Psychiatric Hospital

More Than 1,025 Future Physicians Secure US Residency Positions on Match Day 2020

With the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, St. George’s University students and graduates who will be called on to assist in the fight against the virus received much awaited news on Match Day 2020. On Friday, 1,027 soon-to-be physicians learned of where they will begin their residencies in the United States this summer, the news coming down from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) as the clock struck noon. The residency match number is expected to climb even higher in the coming weeks and months.

Positions were secured across a wide range of specialties—including anesthesiology, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, pathology, and many more—and spanned 43 of the United States. The newest class of residents join a proud network of SGU physicians who are making a difference in healthcare throughout hospitals around the world.

“It is especially in times like these that we, as physicians, are turned to in order to provide valuable, high-quality care in communities around the world, for individuals who desperately need it,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “With the skills and knowledge with which they have been equipped, I am confident that our students are prepared to meet this challenge head-on.”

 

 

In the place of in-person celebrations, SGU students and graduates utilized technology to celebrate Match Day with their colleagues. For Nick Mulchan, MD ’20 (expected), he and his medical school friends connected via video chat, each opening up their emails from the NRMP simultaneously to simulate SGU’s annual Match Day Luncheon in New York City, which was canceled for the safety of all attendees.

Mr. Mulchan’s excitement was evident on the call, having matched into a neurology residency at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

“It was helpful to experience it with everyone who I went to med school with,” he said. “We all looked out for each other. It was great to see and hear from everyone. A lot of us got our top choices. We all did really well and I’m so proud of everyone.”

“We all worked hard, and SGU prepared us really well,” he added. “SGU went above and beyond my expectations, which allowed us to excel.”

Mr. Mulchan was a biological engineering major at Cornell University before going on to earn a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at Columbia. He then enrolled in the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University Four-Year MD Program (formerly the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program), where he built a strong bond with his fellow students. Through studying in the United Kingdom, Grenada, and the United States, he built a strong foundation for his medical career. It set him up to go on “15 or 16” interviews, primarily in the northeast US, but he felt especially at home in NYU, citing its reputation, wealth of resources and fellowship opportunities, as well as the proximity to his roots on Long Island.

 

“A lot of us got our top choices. We all did really well and I’m so proud of everyone.”

Nick Mulchan, MD 2020

 

Another native New Yorker—Raven Crusco, MD ’20 (expected)­—will be headed south this summer, having matched into a combined pediatrics/emergency medicine residency program at University of Maryland Medical Center. It is one of fewer than 10 such positions in the entire US.

“Between the hardships, the stress, and the studying, it has been quite a journey, but it’s all been worth it,” she said. “It all paid off. I’m so happy to say that I got my first choice. I have had the program on my radar for a while. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Ms. Crusco came directly to SGU after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from Binghamton University. Early on, her affinity for pediatrics was clear, and throughout her experience in the hospitals and with the Emergency Medicine Club at SGU, she was drawn to both.

She finished her final clinical rotation earlier in the month, and she waited anxiously ever since for the residency news to arrive. That she matched into a combined residency will allow her to become board certified in both pediatrics and emergency medicine after five years.

“Going to SGU is clearly a good path to medicine, and I’m just really happy to be a part of it,” she said.

 

“It all paid off. I’m so happy to say that I got my first choice. I have had the program on my radar for a while. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Raven Crusco, MD 2020

 

Her close friend, Evan Maisel, MD ’20 (expected), will complete his intern year in internal medicine at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, NY, before going on to an anesthesiology residency at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, FL. It’s not far from where he did his undergraduate studies (University of Miami) and where his parents expect to retire.

“When you’re in the trenches during medical school, it feels like it’s going so slowly, but looking back, I feel like I blinked my eyes and it was over,” he said. “It was all worth it. I got the field and the place that I wanted, and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Mr. Maisel grew up around medicine—his dad a cardiologist on Long Island, his uncle specializing in anesthesiology. In going through his coursework and clinical training, he felt more drawn to the latter.

“I’ve always been interested in pharmacology, and I did well in it too,” he said. “When I got to my clinical years and found myself in the OR, I liked being hands-on with the patients and caring for them during a vulnerable time, as well as there being a mixture of continuity of care perioperatively with acuity of care intraoperatively.”

 

“It was all worth it. I got the field and the place that I wanted, and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Evan Maisel, MD 2020

 

The Match Day news comes three weeks after 13 St. George’s University students secured residency in Canada through the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS). For a complete list of 2020 residency appointments, visit our website.

In the US, Canada, and around the world, this year’s class of residents join the medical profession officially this summer, in a time when new doctors are especially welcome to assist. Currently, more than 10,000 St. George’s University physicians are practicing in the United States alone.

“With the number of people being impacted by the coronavirus and without knowing how long it’s going to go on, I’m thankful to be a part of the task force that’s going to help to beat this virus,” Mr. Mulchan said. “There’s more of a need now than ever.”

– Brett Mauser

SOM Alumni Association Advances the Art of Medicine at Annual CME

Designed to provide physicians with an overview of changes in the diagnosis, treatment and management plans in today’s changing health care environment, this year’s School of Medicine Alumni Association (SOMAA) continuing medical education conference was especially beneficial in light of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic—as physicians are turned to in order to provide valuable, high-quality care in communities around the world, for individuals who desperately need it.

“The benefits of our alumni returning to campus to attend the CME conference is that they experience the momentum of the University while connecting with the energy and accomplishments of our current students—the future physicians who will follow in their footsteps,” said Robert Alig, vice president of alumni affairs at St. George’s University. “With the increasing number of people being impacted by the coronavirus, it will be St. George’s University students and graduates who will be called on to assist in the fight against the virus.”

Titled “The Art of Medicine,” the four-day conference was held once again in association with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). It featured prominent SOM alumni and faculty presenters such as:

    • Hematology and medical oncology specialist Shannon O’Connor, MD ’05, whose topics included, “Unlocking the Mystery of Hereditary Cancer Genetics” and “Five Things to Know About – Hematologic Disease in Older People”
    • Paul Mathew, MD ’05, currently an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and expert in headache medicine discussed “Headache: It’s All in Your Head…Or is it?” – accurately classifying headaches and formulating effective treatment plans and interventions
    • Pulmonary and critical care expert Nirav Shah, MD ’02, who discussed the highly relevant topics of “Decoding the Alphabet Soup of Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)” and “ARDS: Where are we now?” – defining acute respiratory disease syndrome, how the definition has changed over the last few years and the treatment strategies to help improve outcomes.

In attendance at these presentations were two familiar faces among the SOM alumni, Jack Davidoff, MD ’88, and his wife Tracey Davidoff neé Quail, MD ’90. They were returning for the fourth time in a row to attend the CME conference in Grenada since earning their medical degrees at St. George’s University three decades ago. After attending the first CME in 2017, held as part of SGU’s 40th anniversary celebrations, the couple was so impressed with the advances made by the University, they felt compelled to return and to keep returning year after year with no plans of stopping. The Davidoffs’ love for the Grenadian people and the country that allowed them to receive their medical education has inspired them to plan a next trip to provide clinical services to the Grenadian community in the near future.

“We received an excellent education at SGU and were able to get invaluable hands-on experience,” said Dr. Tracey Davidoff, vice president of the College of Urgent Care Medicine. “I would do it all over again because SGU made me into the physician I am today, and I have no regrets.”

“We had outstanding instructors and professors, some of whom were the actual authors of the medical textbooks we were currently using,” commented Dr. Jack Davidoff, an emergency medicine physician and president of the Air Medical Physicians Association. “During my time here, I got the opportunity to gain real-life experience and it has made me a much better doctor today. Every day that I go to work, I use the knowledge and skills that I learned at SGU.”

The fourth annual SOMAA CME grew in participation since last year, with 74 attendees, 32 of whom were SGU alumni, as well as 17 Grenadian physicians who practice locally. Additionally, their time in Grenada wasn’t only about lectures and education. The SOMAA provided plenty of opportunities to experience a taste of culture and hospitality on the island many called home during their studies. 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; and a catamaran sunset cruise, which included snorkeling and a visit to the Underwater Sculpture Park and Hog Island.

“This CME doesn’t just give us, practicing physicians an opportunity to earn 16 continuing medical education credits and a chance to learn new innovations and advances in our respective fields,” stated SOMAA President Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83. “It also enables our alumni to come back and visit and see the progress the University has made, interact with the students, and have a great time. This level of camaraderie is not found anywhere else.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Students Form a Line of Pride in Support of Grenada

TRUE BLUE, Grenada, March 14, 2020 — St. George’s University (SGU) has been continuing to follow the global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and has been working collaboratively with the leaders of the Government of Grenada to address the Coronavirus pandemic.

The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff and the larger Grenadian community continue to be of paramount importance to SGU. At this time, we continue to encourage students to leave the island to lessen the burden on Grenada, and a significant portion has chosen to do so. To facilitate these efforts, SGU has chartered aircrafts that have already made a number of flights to major U.S. hubs.

“The measures we are taking are in line with best practice and guidelines being encouraged by global health organizations and followed by universities throughout the world,” said Richard Liebowitz, MD, Vice Chancellor of St. George’s University. “Our goal is to ensure our students and faculty help reduce density on campus and on the island of Grenada to reduce any potential future spread of the virus and free up resources on the island for those who may need them most. Our actions were not related to any specific medical situation on the island, but to achieve the goal of lessening the spread of disease in the future.”

SGU is working collaboratively with key stakeholders in the Grenadian community, including the Ministries of Health and Education, as well as the Grenada Airport Authority to help manage the situation and facilitate a smooth process. SGU will not direct students to return to Grenada until it is safe to do so for all and will be transitioning to online learning activities for all students, including the School of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Arts and Sciences, over the next week.

While SGU continues to facilitate students, who want to leave the island, some have chosen to remain in Grenada, both on and off campus. The campus will remain operational, and SGU intends to maintain full staff pay and benefits during this pandemic. SGU is continuing to assess the situation and is actively communicating with those on campus.

SGU is also continuing to work closely with the Government of Grenada to assist with preparations for enhancing the public health infrastructure on the island.

“As in past crises, SGU stands with the people and Government of Grenada to address any challenges and provide appropriate support as we face this challenge together,” Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor of SGU, stated. “Our students lined up at the airport represent a line of pride for their medical education in Grenada and their commitment as future physicians to unburden the Grenadian health care system during this unprecedented pandemic.”

Chancellor Modica added: “We are actively in the process of assisting in procuring and providing medical equipment to the Grenada General Hospital and laboratory, as well as professional assistance to support both local needs and those of students and best prepare the island’s health care system for the potential threat.”

To date, no member of the university community has contracted COVID-19. SGU remains vigilant and will continue to coordinate with Grenada’s Ministry of Health, and our international partners.