Nana Yaa Baffour-Awuah, MD

As she comes to the end of her family medicine residency at Southside Hospital in New York, where she treats area residents as well as people from all over the world, Nana Yaa Baffour-Awuah, MD ’16, looks back fondly on the path she’s taken, and eagerly awaits discovering what the future holds.

Originally from Ghana, Dr. Baffour-Awuah moved to the US for college and, following “four fabulous years” at St. George’s University in Grenada, she is helping a diverse population, of which more than 85 percent of patients are uninsured and many are undocumented immigrants.

“Some patients have been coming to the hospital for years,” she said. “They appreciate the continuity of care and the ability to obtain extra help or reduced fees.”

Dr. Baffour-Awuah also volunteers at local homeless shelters and is working with a telehealth program designed to expedite the admissions process from the emergency room. The program also provides support to patients in areas with limited access to medical care.

Upon completing her residency, she will transition to family medicine to be a primary care doctor, in addition to getting more involved with research.

“I’ve always been keen on family medicine as it covers a bit of everything,” Dr. Baffour-Awuah said. “I like the continuity of knowing a person for years and years.”

Her path to medicine began at Connecticut College, where she studied biochemistry as well as cell and molecular biology, and was also recognized with an Outstanding Student award. During this time, she volunteered in an ER—an experience that helped make up her mind about becoming a doctor.

After studying in the US, she returned to Ghana with the intention to enroll at medical school there, but only one school featured with a four-year medical program mirroring the US system. That’s when she looked abroad.

“St. George’s University appealed to me because it is similar to US schools,” she said. “I had a good feeling about going to SGU, and I wasn’t disappointed.”

In her two years in Grenada, she benefited from small-group settings for teaching and discussion sessions, as well as from the support of SGU’s international faculty. Following two years on the island, Dr. Baffour-Awuah’s clinical rotations—based in New York City—covered hematology, oncology, child and adolescent psychology, surgery, emergency medicine, and family medicine. After earning her Doctor of Medicine, she gave back to her alma mater but serving as a learning strategist, mentoring junior students and helping them with learning and exam strategies.

“I loved my time in Grenada,” she said. “It was just what I was looking for in terms of the coursework, and the island itself was fantastic. It has great weather, beaches, and people from all over the world living and studying there.”

– Louise Akers

Orapeleng Phuswane-Katse, MD

Dr. Orapeleng Phuswane-Katse, SGU MD’11, who hails from Mochudi, Botswana, one day hopes to be a “game changer” in the field of public health medicine in her country.

“We don’t have a lot of doctors in Botswana so there is a lot of opportunity to impact the health system here,” Dr. Phuswane-Katse said. “I enjoy pediatric community health care and I would like to improve policies and strategy planning in child health.”

She is currently completing a residency in public health medicine at Botswana’s Ministry of Health & Wellness division, where she engages in a range of public health issues including hospital management, occupational health, district hospital management, policy and strategy formulation, and management of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Dr. Phuswane-Katse also gives lectures to undergraduate medical students at University of Botswana covering public health topics including outbreak investigations, vaccination programs available, and other health indicators.

She recently became the 2019 recipient of Best Youth in Promoting Health and Wellness in Botswana Award, awarded by the Botswana National Youth Council.

Dr. Phuswane-Katse earned her Bachelor of Science in Basic Medical Sciences from St. George’s University in 2007 and went on to garner her Doctor of Medicine from St. George’s University School of Medicine in 2011. In doing so, Dr. Phuswane-Katse completed her rotations at Stafford Hospital in the UK, where she was named a chapter member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which recognized senior medical students and residents who have demonstrated excellence, dedication, and leadership. Upon completing her medical degree, she was awarded the Gold Humanism Honor Award, which recognizes outstanding medical students who showed great compassion and dedication to the health of their community.

In 2012, she served as the SGU School of Medicine class speaker at the first-ever SGU commencement ceremony in Botswana, at which government officials, family, and friends were in attendance. She also emceed the 2016 ceremony.

Continuing on her list of accomplishments, in 2015, Dr. Phuswane-Katse was the first medical doctor from Botswana to become part of the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI), a six-week leadership program started by President Barack Obama for excelling young African leaders who have shown exemplary work in the communities they serve.

Currently, Dr. Phuswane-Katse is vice president of Botswana YALI Network, a network of the Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni, and a board member for Botswana United States Alumni Association (BUAA). She also has a Facebook Page, “Getting the Facts Right with Dr Phuswane-Katse,” which aims to educate Batswana about common medical problems and empower them to take control of their health, and mentors students through the “Afrika Ithute” initiative and other platforms.

She credits the plentiful hands-on experience at St. George’s for preparing her for her chosen field. “SGU taught me accountability, responsibility, and to be able to work hard to achieve my goals,” she said.

Su Young Park, MD

On any given day, Su Young Park, MD ’14, may be found embracing an infant or young child while at work. As a pediatric inpatient hospitalist at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton, PA, Dr. Park has helped countless children suffering from bronchiolitis, pneumonia, sickle cell anemia, and other ailments, and attended dozens of deliveries to care for newborns until they are discharged.

Just recently, her training came into practice when a baby was admitted to the hospital with intractable vomiting and dehydration, and she was told that the baby was not gaining weight. While initial tests and exams by an outside pediatrician found nothing wrong, the St. George’s University graduate’s gut kept telling her to probe deeper. She ordered an ultrasound, which determined that the baby had pyloric stenosis, a swelling of a muscle between the stomach and intestines.

“I was so happy that I didn’t miss anything,” Dr. Park said. “I could have just sent the baby home.”

Working with worried parents and patients who, in many cases, cannot speak for themselves, the 37-year-old loves her career, finding the work both challenging and gratifying at the same time. “The best thing about being a pediatrician is I get to work with kids,” she said. “I love the work environment. I love working with babies. I love my job.”

Originally from South Korea, Dr. Park said she always wanted to be a doctor but felt the pressure when applying to medical schools. “It’s virtually impossible to get into med school in Korea,” she said, adding that it was as difficult to gain admittance to a US school. While many Koreans opt to obtain their degree in either Poland or the Philippines, Dr. Park decided to go a different route, applying to Caribbean med schools, she said.

“SGU is really well-known among students, especially international students,” she said.

Dr. Park came to the US to learn English and to take pre-med curriculum courses to bolster her application. She graduated from her undergraduate college magna cum laude. Once accepted to medical school, she worked diligently to succeed, relying heavily on SGU’s large support system—including other Korean students, graduates, and faculty—to help her along the way.

“Culturally, we are very soft-spoken people. But once you become committed to become a doctor, if you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask it. You cannot learn everything from a book,” Dr. Park said.

As an SGU student, she most appreciated the University’s clinical rotation network. With 70-plus hospital affiliations, the program allows students to gain valuable experience ranging from family practice to specialized fields. Because of that experience, Dr. Park said she felt very prepared to work in American hospitals—from learning hospital infrastructure to using a variety of software programs. She was so successful during clinical training that she was awarded Medical Student of the Year by Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in 2012. The award is given to those students who consistently show excellence in patient care, academic performances, and interaction with the medical team.

In between graduation and starting her residency, Dr. Park was a visiting research scholar at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York where she was able to publish several articles to add to her credentials. In June 2019, Dr. Park completed her residency in pediatrics at Metropolitan Hospital, a program affiliated with New York Medical College, and went on to become an attending physician at Geisinger.

It was a culmination not only of her own dream but that of her family as well.

“They’re really happy,” Dr. Park said. “I made it.”

-Laurie Chartorynsky

Sarah Ackah

As an internal medicine/pediatrics resident at the University at Buffalo, Sarah Ackah, MD ’17, sees inpatients and outpatients with a range of complex conditions. Cases run the full gamut and sometimes involve trauma, forcing her and her colleagues to be prepared for any situation that may arise.

Dr. Ackah has thrived during her time in upstate New York, and hopes to take the knowledge and experience she has gained there to Texas, where her fondness was medicine was born.

Like her travels, the fields for which she is enthusiastic are wide ranging.

“My medical interests include primary care, public health, and sociocultural research, and I have a passion for working with both adults and kids,” she said.

In addition to her clinical responsibilities, Dr. Ackah is involved in two major research projects related to palliative care awareness in inpatient settings and pediatric endocrinology in children with thyroid disease.

“Obesity and thyroid disease in children is a serious and growing problem in the US and beyond,” she said. “There is a child obesity clinic at my hospital and it’s a topic I studied and became interested in at SGU. I’d like to research more about the effect of obesity on thyroid function and see if there are ways of helping children and adults in non-surgical ways.”

Dr. Ackah was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Texas. The eldest of four children, she was inspired to follow a career in medicine during a childhood visit to the emergency room for her younger sister.

“My sister needed stitches following a serious accident and the attending doctors were so kind and caring,” she said. “I was only about 8 years old, but I remember thinking I wanted to be like them one day.”

Dr. Ackah completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin. When it came to choosing a medical school, she weighed her options in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean before opting to study at St. George’s University. It proved to be the right decision.

“The whole experience at SGU was terrific,” Dr. Ackah said. “It was such an interesting and family-friendly environment. I come from a big family so this is what I wanted, and my classmates were great. SGU has a way of picking the best students.

“The resources and teaching staff at SGU were also first class. I found the schedule quite rigorous but everyone was extremely supportive. It definitely prepared me for the complexities of life as a doctor. It was the perfect, well-rounded experience.”

Nathan Kwablah, MD, MBA

Nathan Kwablah, MD ’11, MBA ’12, is the very embodiment of individual hard work and dedication, and St. George’s University’s commitment to global medicine.

Born and raised in Ghana, Dr. Kwablah attended SGU on a merit-based scholarship offered to qualified students from Commonwealth countries. He dreamt of becoming a doctor since he was a teenager, inspired by his father, who was a biomedical scientist, as well as the American TV show, ER. When it came time to choosing a medical school, St. George’s University was a highly desirable choice.

“SGU appealed to me because of the learning structure and the opportunities I knew it would give me,” he said. “A family friend had also studied there and highly recommended it. The scholarship offer was the deciding point and I’m delighted at the path I chose.”

The SGU Commonwealth Scholarships are offered to students who demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to their chosen discipline. They are primarily granted to students from countries where the need for trained professionals is high.

“I knew I’d want to return to Ghana and practice medicine after I graduated,” Dr. Kwablah said.

After earning his Doctor of Medicine at SGU, he stayed in Grenada to complete a Master of Business Administration in Multi-Sector Health Management. His education prepared him well for his return to Ghana, where he currently serves as medical director at Action Clinic in Accra, with designs on becoming a specialist in family medicine.

“There is so much work to be done in Ghana,” Dr. Kwablah said. “We have very capable doctors but limited resources and the country’s medical services are behind in terms of technological advancements. Most doctors are based in urban areas which means medical support for people living in rural areas is hard for them to access.

To resolve this issue, Dr. Kwablah aims to develop health technology in Ghana. He currently is part of a telemedicine initiative that provides a low-cost medical advice service by phone for people who are unable to visit with a doctor. It has proven to be especially beneficial for low-income individuals and families, particularly those residing in remote areas.

“I’d like to do more research in this field and I feel well equipped to take on its challenges after having the advantage of a global education at SGU. The exposure I had during my clinical placements in New York City and California really helped shape my mindset, and I apply the principles from my learning in my day-to-day work.

“As well as a fantastically well-rounded medical education, SGU taught me skills in clinical research, medical education, data analysis, and public speaking, all of which have helped me get to where I am today.”

– Louise Akers

Seunghwan Kim

Growing up in South Korea, Seunghwan Kim, MD ’15, never dreamed he could become a doctor, but today he is a second-year resident specializing in pediatrics at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. And he loves what he does.

“I feel I found an unlimited source of joy from practicing medicine,” Dr. Kim said. “I can always find something to do for others. Also, being a doctor means a ceaseless dedication to self-learning in addition to always learning from your patients.”

Dr. Kim’s journey to becoming a doctor wasn’t linear, nor was it easy. Living in South Korea, it was “extremely difficult” to get into medical school, Dr. Kim said, yet he always had a desire to help people in need. In addition to traveling a great distance, he had to learn English and acclimate to life abroad.

“Ten years ago, not many people knew about St. George’s University and even fewer people, at least in South Korea, were willing to go to a Caribbean medical school,” Kim said. “I heard SGU was the best one in the Caribbean and I took a chance.”

The move paid off. He quickly fell in love with Grenada and life at SGU and hasn’t looked back.

Going to SGU was “very, very, very wonderful,” Dr. Kim said. “Studying medicine at SGU was exotic and fascinating. There are so many opportunities to explore and take as yours.”

After completing his pre-med requirement at SGU, Dr. Kim entered the School of Medicine in January 2011. During that time, he made sure to immerse himself in campus events and clubs, as well as learning the Grenadian culture. “SGU gave me lifelong friends and unforgettable memories,” he said. “I met so many wonderful staff and friends at SGU and got exposed to various cultures.”

Dr. Kim said his SGU experience helped him become more sensitive to his patients’ needs but also to embrace different personalities and cultures. He credits his involvement in club activities and group learning sessions to making him a better team player.

Following the birth of his eldest daughter, Dr. Kim decided to use his skills in the field of pediatrics. “I originally wanted to do emergency medicine, but when my daughter was born, I began to feel I wanted to work with children and protect them so that they can grow to their fullest potential,” he said. “In addition, pediatric residents almost always appeared to be so happy when I met them during the interview season.”

In addition to earning a Doctor of Medicine degree, Dr. Kim strengthened his residency resume by working as a research and teaching fellow, and by earning a Master of Business Administration.

Dr. Kim is still deciding his exact career path; he is considering starting as a general pediatrician and eventually hopes to do a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine or pediatric urgent care.

“I am the first one in my family who studied abroad and now lives outside Korea,” Dr. Kim said. “My parents are proud of me not because of my MD title but because I am doing what I love.”

-Laurie Chartorynsky

Lowell Su, MD

From the specialty he’s in to the training that he’s receiving, Lowell Su, MD ’10, cherishes the position that he’s in. As a cardiothoracic surgery fellow at Tufts Medical Center and Lahey Clinic and Medical Center in Boston, MA, he’s learning from some of the world’s foremost leaders in the field, in one of the most competitive fields to gain admittance.

His two-year fellowship in and around Boston is only the latest stop on a journey that has taken the St. George’s University graduate to some of the country’s most renowned institutions—the acclaimed Mayo Clinic and Brigham & Women’s Hospital among them.

“I went to medical school wanting to do CT surgery, so you could say that I’m living my childhood dream,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be learning from leaders in cardiothoracic surgery, from the people who write the textbooks.”

Dr. Su recently entered his second year at Tufts, where he sees a breadth of cardiac and thoracic cases. In the morning, he rounds in the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU), reviewing patient plans with attendings and working with the department’s residents. From there, he scrubs into the operating room at Tufts’ Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Center, which ranks number one in New England in heart transplant volume, and has produced some of the country’s most favorable transplant outcomes. Dr. Su also practices at the nearby Lahey Clinic, which is at the forefront nationally in robotic-assisted thoracic surgery and tops in New England in regards to robotic case volume.

“Operating on the heart and lungs, it’s very rewarding to know that you’re changing the course of people’s lives,” Dr. Su said. “Thoracic surgery has made significant technologic advancements in the past decade; consequently, an increasing number of cases are done minimally invasively. Heart surgery is still primarily performed through an open approach, and I relish the opportunity to literally get my hands inside the chest to operate. It’s amazing to operate in the chest, to feel the heart beating and the lungs breathing, and to know that each operative decision helps determine the course of a patient’s life. Ultimately, to be in a position to help out patients through these operations is why I love this field.”

Becoming a physician was Dr. Su’s goal from a young age. Born in Taiwan, he and his family moved to Minnesota when he was young, his father and mother taking positions at the prestigious Mayo Clinic, him a dermatologist and her a radiologist. It was then that Dr. Su’s interest in medicine began to bloom.

“I remember when I was in elementary school, my dad showed me videos of heart surgery performed at the Mayo Clinic, and I would just watch them all afternoon,” Dr. Su said. “I told myself that one day I would be wearing those surgeon’s gloves.”

Dr. Su earned his Bachelor of Arts in biology from Northwestern University in 2000 before going on to obtain a master’s degree in intercultural studies from Trinity International University in Chicago. He firmly believed that his grade point average and test scores were strong enough for admission into any American school but instead he was waitlisted.

At an impasse, he evaluated his options, speaking to several of his father’s Mayo Clinic colleagues who had gone the Caribbean route and become successful physicians. Instead of waiting a year to re-apply to American schools, Dr. Su enrolled at SGU because of its high residency match rates and campus accommodations.

“It was unclear to me at the time why the door to matriculating into an American school was closed,” Dr. Su said. “In retrospect, however, there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity. That time was meant for me to pursue a master’s degree that would build a foundation of integrating medical care into different cultural settings and delivering this care to different people groups. In the end, SGU effectively gave me the same opportunity while saving me a year of re-taking entrance exams.”

As a student at SGU, he was part of the Iota Epsilon Alpha medical honor society, and tutored for two years through the University’s Department of Educational Services. He also took advantage of the array of intramural sports on campus and recreational opportunities around the island.

“I found it to be a valuable experience because I met people from different countries and backgrounds, many of whom I’m in touch with to this day,” Dr. Su said. “I also enjoyed living in a different culture.”

After graduating from SGU, he did his surgical internship year at the Mayo Clinic, before completing a five-year general surgery residency at Marshfield Clinic with rotations at the University of Wisconsin Medical School and Medical College of Wisconsin. From there, Dr. Su joined a two-year minimally invasive thoracic surgery fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in West Roxbury, MA, programs run by Harvard Medical School.

“Brigham is the birthplace of thoracic surgery in the United States and is the largest thoracic program in the United States. Approximately 25 percent of all thoracic surgeons in this country were trained at this hospital,” he said. “There are 18 attending surgeons who are experts in everything thoracic. It was the chance of a lifetime to learn everything I did from them.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Su eagerly anticipates finishing his fellowship and then seeking a position that combines both his clinical and academic background. Looking back, he’s proud of the path he’s taken and thankful for the foundation he built at St. George’s University.

“St. George’s University gave me everything I needed to get where I am,” Dr. Su said. “Without a doubt, I had to put in the work and prove to people that I could handle the workload, and SGU provided me with the medical knowledge and clinical rotations to succeed. At the end of the day, I’m right where I want to be.”

– Brett Mauser

Annie Le, MD/MPH

When one considers the path that Annie Le, MD ’18, and her family have taken, it’s a marvel to see just how far she’s come—and the places she’s sure to go.

“Coming to the US, we pretty much started from scratch,” said Dr. Le, who started her family medicine residency at Borrego Health in California this summer.

In the 1970s, with Vietnam on the precipice of war, her family immigrated to California, settling in a refugee community in San Diego. She lived with her entire extended family in a single home and in poverty. However, she said the experience “built up a lot of character and grit” that helped shape her work ethic and goals.

That includes in medicine, a field she has eyed from a young age. Now as a physician, she is committed to treating underserved communities.

“Being from a refugee community, I witnessed inequality in healthcare firsthand,” she said. “The cultural barriers took a negative toll on my family.”

Dr. Le’s journey toward becoming a doctor began when she obtained her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), becoming a first-generation college graduate. In addition to her studies, Dr. Le developed a strong research background, first as an undergraduate within UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine’s Department of Hematology and Oncology, and then at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where her responsibilities included coordinating all pediatric brain tumor and central nervous system disease-related clinical trials. As a result, she has been published and mentioned in several research articles.

Still, she felt limited in what she could provide for her patients.

“I knew that a step above, to be able to implement the research and be on the front lines, was to be a practitioner,” she said.

After completing postbaccalaureate courses at UCSF, Dr. Le applied to US medical schools but was waitlisted. Instead of waiting a year to start her journey toward becoming a physician, she applied to St. George’s University at the behest of a UCLA colleague who had taken a similar path.

“Looking back on my clinical years, I really appreciate the fact that I was exposed to so many different communities, different hospitals, and the different ways that they do things. You adapt to each location, and gain knowledge and skills from each experience.”

Annie Le, MD ’18Family Medicine Resident, Borrego Health

“I saw how successful she was going through it, and it was an opportunity to start sooner,” Dr. Le said. “Also, during undergrad I had wanted to study abroad but never did, so this was my opportunity to live in a different culture. Even though I went to UCLA and live in California where it’s diverse, SGU gave me a different level of diversity that allowed me to learn from people from different backgrounds from all over the world. It’s something that I really appreciated.”

While at SGU, she was a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), mentored students through the Academic Education Program (AEP), and volunteered at several student organization health fairs. She was also appointed by her peers as project coordinator of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), an organization that recognizes students who demonstrate compassionate and patient-centered care.

Dr. Le’s clinical training took her to locations throughout the United States as well as the United Kingdom.

“Looking back on my clinical years, I really appreciate the fact that I was exposed to so many different communities, different hospitals, and the different ways that they do things,” she said. “You adapt to each location, and gain knowledge and skills from each experience.”

Among her stops was Borrego Health, one of more than 70 clinical sites in the SGU network. Through that experience, she built a rapport with attending physicians and staff, making it an easy decision to rank the facility as a top choice for residency. She joined its inaugural residency class on July 1, 2019 and as the first SGU graduate selected for the program.

“In my fourth year, it felt like I was an intern already,” she said. “The relationships that were developed prior to the match allowed me to foresee what the experience would be like working there. I had such a positive experience, so it really felt like home.”

After earning her Doctor of Medicine from SGU and receiving all four honor cords in leadership/academics/humanism/research, Dr. Le added a Master of Public Health, with a focus on preventive medicine, to her resume, further preparing her for a career in family medicine. She will begin her residency at Hemet Valley Medical Center, one of two residency locations underneath the Borrego Health umbrella. Like she grew comfortable at Borrego, Dr. Le hopes that her patients—from wherever they come—feel welcome coming into her office.

“When I was young, I wanted to change some parts of medicine but didn’t have the capacity to do so. But now I do,” she said. “Seeing how hard my family worked has motivated me to push for equal healthcare access for every individual and community.”

– Brett Mauser

Akwe Nyabera, MD

You left Kenya for Grenada when you were just 19. Who or what influenced your decision to study at St. George’s University?

I’ve always had an interest in traveling, so from a young age I knew I wanted to study abroad. It was actually my school counselor who told me about SGU and the beautiful island of Grenada.

When I was 16, I worked under an engineer at a hospital in Nairobi. I was inspired by the work of the doctors and nurses and the role of the hospital in the community it served. After this, I volunteered at a number of hospitals and made the decision to study medicine.

Where has your SGU degree taken you?

I’m now living in Brooklyn, New York, and I’m working as a surgical intern at a large hospital. I love my job. It’s extremely practical and I enjoy working on surgical procedures. In the future, I hope to specialize in gastroenterology or interventional cardiology. I didn’t plan to move to the United States, but I’m glad I have because the knowledge and experience I’m gaining here can be practiced anywhere in the world. New York City is a terrific place to live and work. It’s extremely diverse and I love the mix of people and cultures.

Apart from academic qualifications, what did you gain from studying at SGU?

A huge amount. My professors taught me how to learn and to improvise during difficult circumstances. The teaching staff were all excellent and they were always there to help if you needed it. Grenada is also the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It’s a really wonderful setting to live and learn. The people are so friendly and welcoming, the food is delicious, and living there gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.

Alongside my studies, I got involved with a number of voluntary roles during my spare time. I regularly made volunteer visits to the Bel Air Children’s Home on the island and worked with orphaned children with complex disabilities. I was also an executive board member of the University’s Physicians for Human Rights chapter, community outreach coordinator and president of the Neuroscience Society, and I participated in a four-month American Sign Language selective as well as volunteering at the Dorothy Hopkins Home for the Disabled.

Your education and experience shows you’re keen to live and work in a variety of countries. Is that something you hope will continue throughout your career?

Definitely. I want to work for international organizations and in countries that don’t have a lot of resources. Working for an international non-profit organization would give me so many opportunities to help people who don’t always have access to medical services. One day, I would like to return to Kenya and work there. The world is so big and I have so many opportunities ahead of me. Medicine is unpredictable by nature, but I’m really grateful to SGU for giving me such a good start. I’m incredibly excited about my future.

What has been your career highlight so far?

While studying at SGU, I took a two-week selective in India where I worked at a hospital in Karad. It was really eye-opening and sparked my interest in global health systems. I also recently helped to organize a medical camp in Eldoret, Kenya, with a group of neurosurgeons. I had the opportunity to scrub in on surgeries for people who couldn’t afford medical care. This was extremely rewarding.

But my absolute highlight was my graduation day. My family is very important to me, and it was so special that they were all able to attend. They have always supported me, and my graduation ceremony was the culmination of all my work since I was 16.

Ish Saxena, MD

Ish Saxena, MD ’13, is a general practitioner (GP) trainee based at the Royal Preston Hospital in the northwest of England. After studying at St. George’s University, he completed a master’s degree in healthcare management at the University of Manchester. He is now involved in innovations in primary healthcare and is currently undertaking a health infrastructure innovation project in his home town.

Dr. Saxena is the founder and CEO of “F3’ing It!”, a startup company focused on supporting doctors and providing the best opportunities for those seeking job opportunities or training breaks. The organization, which launched in March 2017, is collaborating with doctors, NHS trusts, and non-NHS organizations throughout the country.

His other interests include medical teaching, for which he has received multiple awards from the University of Manchester. Dr. Saxena is also the lead rep for Associates in Training (AiT) at the Royal College of General Practitioners in his region, clinical entrepreneur fellow at NHS England, and a BME Doctors Council member at the General Medical Council in the UK. Outside of medicines, Dr. Saxena also enjoys travelling and keeping his travel blog up to date.

You chose to study at St. George’s University rather than staying nearer home in the north of England. It must have been a big decision.

Looking back, it was a huge move. I was at school in Liverpool in the UK when I heard about SGU. My main motivation for applying was that I was keen to practice medicine in the United States at some point and saw that SGU would give me that opportunity. It was only when I arrived in Grenada and started my course that I realized all the other benefits of studying there. The SGU curriculum was challenging, which gave me a vigorous educational experience, and SGU students also get to enjoy stunning beaches after their lectures.

Alongside this, the University was extremely supportive with terrific learning resources and we had the benefit of learning from esteemed professors from all over the world.

But the best thing about it all was the sense of community. I made lifelong friendships and professional connections, and it’s been great to stay in touch and see how successful my fellow graduates have been.

You’ve won a number of awards in your career already. How did SGU give you the platform for success?

I’ve noticed that all SGU alumni have a drive to succeed which sets us apart from most students and graduates. I’m certainly very ambitious and excited about the contribution I can make to healthcare and the lives of individuals.

After graduating from SGU I completed a master’s degree in healthcare management at the University of Manchester, which has led to a number opportunities for me to get involved in both the management and delivery of healthcare.

I’ve been honored to receive the Foundation Doctor Portfolio of the Year award as resident at the Royal Preston Hospital and awards for teaching and education from the University of Manchester. I have the privilege of being the Royal College of General Practitioners lead representative for trainees in my region. I am also Clinical Fellow at the NHS England entrepreneur scheme and a BME doctors council member at the General Medical Council in the UK.

SGU gave me a great base in terms of scientific knowledge and I draw on that in my day to day work. It was also the starting point for my clinical skills and I learned a breadth and range of topics I wouldn’t have benefited from elsewhere. For example, I had the opportunity to study parasitology which has meant I’ve been able to help patients with tropical diseases back in the UK.

My strong education and international experience at SGU and my time working at Brooklyn Hospital in New York has helped me achieve what I have today.

Alongside your day job, you volunteer your time to help new medical students. You must be extremely busy.

I am busy but I think it’s important to contribute back and help give opportunities to future generations of medical students. I came back to the UK after working in New York because I felt I could contribute more here. I wanted to draw on the practices I’d learnt in the United States to make improvements in healthcare in my home country.

I help students from the University of Manchester and teach them about the practicalities of working in a large hospital. The NHS is struggling at the moment so it’s vital that new doctors are helped to settle in and that the best possible care for patients is promoted.

What are your future career ambitions?

I’m interested in becoming a general practitioner (GP) because it’s a good mix of direct care and healthcare management. I plan to be an NHS GP in the next few months and will continue to work towards improving the delivery of primary care. It’s very likely that this field of medicine is going to change in the next few years because of our aging population, and it’s important that both doctors and patients are educated and ready for these changes.

I’m currently working on the creation of a screening system for frail patients so they can be treated at home. In the not-too-distant future, I also hope to see personalized care delivered close to home by bringing specialists into local practices.

Every day is bringing different highlights and new challenges. Living my dream of being a doctor is phenomenal, and I’m very lucky to be able to say I love my job.

– Louise Akers