Heal, Protect, In War or Peace

The face of medicine is changing as the practice and the teaching of medicine broadens to incorporate the best practices globally in the best possible way regionally. The resulting innovative curricula lead doctors to career possibilities outside traditional pathways. A great example of this new kind of physician is Kurt A. Henry, MD, who holds the rank of Commander in the U.S. Navy, and recognized as a national leader in developing new approaches for combat casualty care, disaster management and operational medicine.

Dr. Henry credits his education at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies (SGU ‘88) with adding a global perspective to his already existing fascination with the functions of the body and the principles of science. Now he integrates his background as a Canadian-born but U.S. trained officer with his broad based St. George’s education and medical practice experience in a variety of settings across the U.S.

“St. George’s makes you aware of global needs and challenges, for example, parasitic diseases. The average U.S. medical student is bombarded with and defers to technology. They don’t have the same first-hand experience or basic medical training that a St. George’s graduate has,” says Dr. Henry.

This particular emphasis informs Dr. Henry as he helped to develop national standards on biosurveillance technology for the Department of Defense and the U.S. public health system, as well as self-care medical technologies for individual servicemen on the battlefield.

Protecting the Public…and the Military

His commitment to protecting the population at large from threatening health disasters like bio-terrorism was strengthened when he was a trauma care leader at the Pentagon following the September 11th terrorist attack. Ironically, Dr. Henry had been in the middle of a briefing session on preparedness for a terrorist attack with the Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency when the planes struck their targets in Washington and New York.

“It was on that day that I decided to remain in the military and pursue the challenges of technology transition and force transformation…out of patriotism to my country,” states Dr. Henry.

In the years since, Dr. Henry has applied his evolving expertise to projects as disparate as managing joint medical efforts between the defense and military sectors and the Centers for Disease Control on disaster exercises, and leading a team of scientists in creating self-care medicine technologies on the battlefield. He has also led new efforts to develop programs in blast countermeasures, sensory perception, and tissue regeneration. In addition, one of the health programs he managed was successfully used by CENCOM during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Now, while he actively charts the path for Government to business migration of new medical programs, he also works as a medical visionary, creating solutions for battlefield care that won’t be seen for another 10-15 years.

Currently, Dr. Henry has been assigned as the Commander Expeditionary Strike Group-Surgeon, Amphibious Squadron Eight/ USS Kearsarge Strike Group and Officer in Charge, Fleet Surgical Team Four.

Where It Began

Founded in 1976 on the Caribbean island of Grenada to provide a quality education to aspiring doctors, and now home to a vibrant community of people from over 85 countries, St. George’s University is an international melting pot of students, scientists, healers and educators. The University created the first truly global curriculum, drawing on the best of U.S. and U.K. medical systems, and later strengthened its commitment to education by adding a School of Veterinary Medicine, a School of Arts and Sciences, and many graduate programs.

St. George’s tradition of commitment to academic leadership has drawn Nobel Prize winners to its academic board, and professors and visiting scholars from the most prestigious institutions in the world, including Harvard University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health, and the Rockefeller Institute. The University takes pride in its strong and stable faculty of 800 plus members, with full-time professors with an average tenure of ten years. It also has a network of prestigious clinical training affiliations with well-established U.S. and U.K. institutions for the School of Medicine and the U.S., the U.K. Canada and Ireland for the School of Veterinary Medicine. Students in both schools enjoy advanced research opportunities through the allied Windward Islands Research and Education.

With more than 5,000 graduates practicing – in different specialties and sub-specialties – worldwide, St. George’s has developed a well-earned reputation for excellence in the lecture hall, as well as in the operating room. Students score on parity with U.S. counterparts on standardized examinations and sometimes even exceed them, as the medical students did in 2001 on the first-time taker pass rate on the USMLE, which exceeded that from U.S. schools. In 2003, the charter class of the School of Veterinary Medicine rivaled their colleagues in their sister School of Medicine by besting the NAVLE scores from the U. S. by 14 points

Looking into the Future

Dr. Henry credits the institution’s global perspective on practicing medicine as an asset that has been invaluable to him as he travels the world with the Navy.

“The combination of location, resources, teaching and training made the experience memorable and worthwhile,” said Dr. Henry of his education at St. George’s. “The benefit of an international education is the global perspective you acquire – this allows you to have a better understanding of various medical needs around the world.”

Huge achievements, born out of intellectual curiosity and personal drive, coupled with an education formed by internationalism and excellence – at St. George’s University.

Published on 01/28/2005