Ahmed Hussein, MD

Ahmed Hussein, MD ’22, has never been one to settle. He started his career in pharmacology in 2010 but soon realized it wasn’t the right fit for him. He found himself longing to make a greater difference in the lives of patients and decided to follow his dream of becoming a doctor in the US.

As someone who had grown up in Egypt, he didn’t have much knowledge of the US healthcare system and knew he needed to select a school that could help him gain this knowledge while providing high-quality medical education. Dr. Hussein soon found SGU, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Today he is a first-year pediatrics resident at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Hussein shared how he successfully reached his goal of becoming an MD with the resources provided to him throughout medical school.

St. George’s University: What made you want to pursue medicine and why did you choose pediatrics specifically?

Dr. Hussein: ”If you are lost in a desert and you know that you are walking in the wrong direction, will you keep going in the same direction or will you stop and change it?”

These words, said by my mother, resonated with me when I was thinking about changing my career as a pharmacist to pursue medicine. We can all be helpful to the vulnerable, but being on the frontline, diagnosing and treating patients, was my main drive to pursue medicine.

Pediatrics as a specialty wasn’t something I considered before starting my clinical rotations. However, I enjoyed it so much during my clinical training that it quickly became the only specialty I applied for during Match. Seeing how resilient the children are while fighting their illnesses is very rewarding. Plus, the cuteness factor is very real!

Since graduating from pharmacy school in 2010, I was fascinated by the hematology/oncology field, and it is my goal to sub-specialize in it once I successfully finish my residency.

SGU: What was the application process to SGU like and how did you feel once you were accepted?

Dr. Hussein: My application process to SGU was seamless, which I believe was the case for my colleagues as well. There was always someone to contact for questions, aid, or just reassurance.

Once I got the news about my acceptance, I felt that I was about to embark on a new journey that would require hard work, day in and day out, to reach my destination—MD.

SGU: How did you participate in campus life at SGU?

Dr. Hussein: I enjoyed the extracurricular selectives offered by SGU, such as dissection (Anatomy Cadaver lab) and wilderness medicine. The new campus gym and the intramural soccer league were my favorite physical activity to participate in on campus.

SGU: What was your favorite aspect of living in Grenada and what do you miss most?

Dr. Hussein: THE BEACH! And I can’t forget to mention the beautiful sunsets.

SGU: How did SGU help you with your academic achievements and USMLE preparation?

Dr. Hussein: I came to find out that SGU has very high USMLE passing scores for a reason! The modules taught and tested during the basic science years are very detailed. I was provided with all the tools that I needed to do well in standardized exams, such as DES facilitators who helped me set up study schedules, go over materials that I didn’t grasp well, and many other things.

SGU: Where did you do your core clinical rotations and what was your experience like?

Dr. Hussein: I did my clinical rotations at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York. I had a wonderful experience rotating between different departments during my core rotations as well as my electives. Also, I met the love of my life in this hospital, who is currently my wife. So, this place will always be memorable!

SGU: What was the Match application process like for you?

Dr. Hussein: I believe the Matching process is one of the most stressful parts of the MD journey. However, preparing for it mentally by reaching out for advice from recent graduates and the Office of Career Guidance and Student Support helped me a lot.

It’s crucial to have a game plan to tackle the application process and interview season. But I was provided with assistance while still in Grenada. OCG provided me with a framework for filling out the application and my CV, and they provided reviews before the submission date. In addition, each clinical site has mentors that tailor their advice based on the students’ Step 1 grades, clinical performance, and the specialty they are applying for!

SGU: What did it feel like when you learned you Matched?

Dr. Hussein: I didn’t believe it. I kept checking the National Residency Matching Program website every five minutes to be sure!

SGU: Why was SGU the right fit for you?

Dr. Hussein: Coming from the Middle East, I didn’t have much information about the US healthcare system, which is very different from Egypt and the UAE (where I used to work). So, to be able to integrate myself into this system, I was looking for a medical school with a great track record of graduates matching with US hospitals. And the answer was SGU!

SGU: Do you have advice for international students (especially those from Egypt) considering medical school and insight on why they should consider SGU?

Dr. Hussein: Grenada is a wonderful island that accepts students from all over the globe and luckily for us (Egyptians) it doesn’t require a visa application process. In addition, in my experience, SGU was successful in matching me into the US healthcare system which is ultimately the goal.

SGU: Since graduating from SGU and matching in pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center Program, what has your transition from med student to MD been like?

Dr. Hussein: One thing I learned quickly in med school is you’ll never “feel” 100 percent prepared for an exam or patient encounter during clinical rotations! However, I channeled this self-doubt to do my best, analyze my shortcomings and try to address them before my next exam or patient encounter. With the same mindset, I tackled my first block of residency. It’s a lifetime journey of learning and it begins by being open to self, peer, and supervisor appraisals.

 

Jisun Won, MD

For Jisun Won, MD ’21, medicine runs in her family. Both her sister and father are physicians, exposing her to the profession and influencing her decision to pursue her own medical degree at an early age.

Dr. Won is currently an internal medicine resident at Abington Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania, a ways away from her hometown of Seoul, South Korea. She shared her journey from med school applicant to residency and provided insight on her experience as an international student at SGU.

St. George’s University: What was the application process to SGU like and how did you feel once you were accepted?

Dr. Won: After first hearing about SGU, I attended the information session in South Korea and had my questions answered by a Korean SGU graduate. Then I reached out to the admissions office through the SGU website, filled out the application, and soon afterwards received my acceptance letter. I felt excited and nervous to attend the Caribbean medical school.

SGU: How did SGU help you with your academic achievements and USMLE preparation?

Dr. Won: SGU’s systems-based curriculum and BSCE examinations helped me prepare for the NBMEs as well as the USMLE Step 1 examination. The small group sessions were especially helpful and taught me how to take a patient’s history and how to do physical exams which prepared me for clinical rotations.

SGU: Did you join any clubs while on campus?

Dr. Won: I mainly participated in activities through Iota Epsilon Alpha Honor Medical Society (IEA) and Christian Student Association (CSA). I formed relationships with other Korean faculties and made great friends by partaking in student clubs.

SGU: Where did you do your core rotations and what was your experience like? 

Dr. Won: I did my core rotations primarily in New York and New Jersey. As the COVID-19 pandemic began during my core rotations, I had no choice but to go back to Korea for a short period of time and participate in virtual rotations. However, SGU was prompt to place me back into in-person rotations in New York, allowing me to graduate on time.

SGU: Why did you choose your specialty?

Dr. Won: I chose internal medicine because it allows me to see a diverse group of patients. I am trained to treat the bread-and-butter diseases of medicine while also coming across the rarer pathologies. As internal medicine residents, we coordinate care amongst different medical and non-medical specialists so that we can ensure the patients receive the proper care they need within and outside the hospital.

SGU: What was your experience with the Match process and how did it feel when you learned you matched?

Dr. Won: As a non-US international medical graduate requiring a H1B visa, the (H1B) match process required extra effort as I needed to identify the hospitals which provided that visa. I utilized residency search tools, hospital websites, and called up all the hospitals to confirm that they were offering the visa for the 2022 Match. But then I finally received the email that I matched. I felt relieved more than anything, knowing that I didn’t need to go through the process again.

SGU: How did you feel about Grenada as a study destination for the basic sciences?

Dr. Won: Grenada is a beautiful island, and the campus is an excellent environment to study in. I was particularly thankful that there were adequate study spaces for group and individual study. I appreciated that the school was continually increasing the amount of study spaces and upgrading the existing facilities such as clinical small group rooms, study halls, and gym.

SGU: What advice would you give to students in South Korea considering medical school and why they should consider SGU?

Dr. Won: As a South Korean, coming to Grenada was an exciting challenge. To those South Koreans considering SGU for medical school, I’d like to say that it will require great dedication and sacrifice, but the result of becoming a doctor in the US will pay off all your hard work.

Chloe Moses, MD

Chloe Moses, MD ’21, found a home away from home while studying in Grenada at St. George’s University. Though it was far from her hometown of London, UK, she built a support system with the resources SGU provided, setting her up for the success she has found now as a foundation doctor completing a general surgery rotation at Southend General Hospital.

Dr. Moses was recently a featured doctor on SGU’s doctor shadowing series for future students that provides an opportunity to hear directly from SGU grads—where she discussed her experience as a med student in Grenada and as a physician in the UK. The session included a discussion about lower gastrointestinal bleeds, including real-life experiences from Dr. Moses.

At the end of the virtual experience, audience members were invited to ask questions about Dr. Moses’s journey as a physician.  Here is an excerpt from that live question-and-answer session.

What is a typical day like as a foundation doctor in general surgery?

Dr. Moses: It’s kind of difficult to answer because we do a lot of different shifts. If I have a normal ward day, I will do a ward round with the consultant or whoever’s relevant and part of the team. I will usually stay on the ward and cover all the ward jobs, which might be discussing patients with different members and teams, organizing different scans, taking blood tests, and dealing with acute emergencies, for example, lower GI bleeds.

During a typical on-call shift – as I am currently rotating in gastrointestinal surgery, we often see presentations of appendicitis, cholecystitis and acute abdominal pain. We also perform surgeries such as cholecystectomies, and for common medical emergencies such as acute bowel obstruction and pancreatitis.

As a practicing doctor, what would you recommend students do as they prepare for med school?

Dr. Moses: I would say just be prepared to be focused and know that it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a journey. SGU will teach you everything in terms of material that you need [to be successful in residency]. You also need to prepare mentally to be away from home.

How did you go about making friends and building your support system at SGU?

Dr. Moses: Quite conveniently, SGU assigns you to study groups at first. So initially, I became particularly good friends with the people in my study groups. We’re all in the same position. We’re all away from home. We’re all anxiously trying to learn medicine. I stayed close to my study group. We ended up being friends and, even though we were only together for one subject, we ended up studying for all our subjects together. There wasn’t one day where I didn’t see them or message them and we used to do some practice questions together.

I found SGU to be completely diverse, so chances are you will find someone else from wherever your town is, in America or Dubai or wherever else. It’s quite a good opportunity for you to meet people and I still speak to my friends, who are now working doctors, regularly.

What were some of the opportunities you got involved with on campus outside of your studies?  

Dr. Moses: I did a few societies, and they have a lot of opportunities for you to engage within the community, whether it be taking blood pressure or educating the local community on diabetes. I quite enjoyed doing things like that. I also enjoyed going to the religious celebrations on Sundays. It’s a time where everyone kind of came together and got a breather from studying. There’s a lot of social events that, even if you’re not a member of a certain club or society, you can join. One example is swimming, you can help teach swimming to the local children.

There’s always something going on, something for you to join in with and everyone’s always together. Even if you don’t know them, I’m sure most people didn’t know everybody there but you’re all able to have fun with each other.

What did you enjoy most about your time at SGU?  

Dr. Moses: I really enjoyed studying in Grenada. And for me, living in the UK, it was a wonderful opportunity to go somewhere else with lovely weather and to study what I love. Paired with the state-of-the-art facilities, I was not missing home at all. SGU had everything I needed, I was very well supported there and able to study with a beautiful view. I felt like it was an exceptionally good foundation for my medical knowledge, which is what I use today.

Jeremy Bosworth

Before Jeremy Bosworth, MD ’13, enrolled at St. George’s University, he was considering a career in law or the FBI. But it was a chance encounter with an old friend who had recently graduated from SGU’s School of Medicine that changed his course forever.

With the encouragement of his friend, Dr. Bosworth applied and was accepted to SGU—and he never looked back. It was while he was on campus in Grenada that he discovered his true passion in life—medicine, particularly surgery, and eventually a love for the very specialized field of plastic surgery.

Dr. Bosworth is currently the chief resident of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Recently, he was awarded an aesthetic fellowship at North Texas Plastic Surgery (NTPS) in Southlake, TX, which he will begin this summer.

SGU News spoke with Dr. Bosworth to learn what appeals to him about the field of plastic surgery, his path to fellowship, and his advice for students on how to land a competitive residency position.

St. George’s University: What is aesthetic surgery?

Dr. Jeremy Bosworth: There are two parts to plastic surgery training: reconstructive plastic surgery and aesthetic plastic surgery. Reconstructive surgery is a big part of plastic surgery training and involves things like craniofacial surgery, breast reconstruction, and reconstruction after trauma. Aesthetic surgery involves many types of elective procedures to enhance the appearance such as face lifts, tummy tucks, liposuction, and even body contouring after weight loss.  It also includes non-surgical treatments such as Botox and laser treatments.

SGU: What is a typical day like for a chief resident?

Dr. Bosworth: My typical day at UAB—where I am now—will vary from a full day in the operating room to a full day of in-clinic seeing patients or some combination. We work at a major university hospital, a children’s hospital, a VA, some smaller hospitals, as well as with private practice surgeons in the community so the experience is quite broad and varied. At my fellowship next year, most of the training will be at the main office of a private practice with operating rooms right in the office as well as a medical spa.

SGU: Speaking of, congratulations on your new fellowship at NTPS. What will you be learning during this time?

Dr. Bosworth: Thank you! The fellowship, which is endorsed by The Aesthetics Society, includes advanced training in facial surgery, body enhancement and contouring, and non-surgical treatments, as well as learning some of the business side of private practice plastic surgery. I’ll be working with a number of highly trained plastic surgeons which will enable me to broaden and master my skills. I feel that I owe it to my patients to be as well trained as possible, so the fellowship just made sense to me. I’m very excited.

SGU: Why did you choose a career in medicine?

Dr. Bosworth: I went to undergraduate college at the University of Arizona where I was a political science major. My plan was to apply to the FBI or CIA or even law school. But I slowly realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do. A friend at SGU told me about his wonderful experience studying medicine there and said, “Why don’t you apply?” I quickly discovered that medicine was my passion. And the rest is history.

SGU: What was your path after graduating from SGU?

Dr. Bosworth: I first did a general surgery residency at Nassau University Medical Center in New York. I then went on to start a plastic and reconstructive surgery residency here at UAB. I am graduating this July. This was a three-year residency that required completion of a prior surgical residency to be eligible. UAB was my first choice for plastic surgery because of the amazing medical center and the unrivaled clinical experience and volume in all aspects of plastic surgery that we see here. There are only about 30 one-year fellowships in aesthetic surgery like the one at NTPS. I knew it would be competitive. It required going through an application process, interviews, and then finally a match process.

SGU: How has SGU helped shape your career aspirations? 

Dr. Bosworth: Going to medical school at SGU was an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The students there had such a family-like mentality. Everyone works to lift each other up. Medical school is hard! I could not have got through it without that encouragement from my peers. And living in Grenada was fantastic. It wasn’t even until I got off the island that I realized how SGU shaped my professional outlook. I did most of my clinical rotations in New Jersey. That’s when it became apparent the SGU students were far-and-above better prepared than the other medical students. We worked harder, were reliable, and motivated, and also grateful for the opportunities. This is all something that SGU engrains in you. I carry that with me today.

SGU: Have you ever encountered any bias or skepticism of your abilities because you had gone to a medical school outside the US?  

Dr. Bosworth: I think that old school bias is slowly disappearing in the field of medicine as a whole, especially for SGU grads. I have always been of the mindset that I am not owed or guaranteed anything, and I always try to just prove myself, regardless of whether I find bias or not. The right mindset, hard work, and of course a little luck always helps.

SGU: Aesthetic surgery is a field of medicine that is extremely competitive. What advice would you give to SGU students who want to pursue a specialized area of medicine?

Dr. Bosworth: I think it’s important to really be passionate about the field that you choose. When I was applying for residency, I knew I wanted to do a general surgery residency which is not easy! It requires long hours and lots of information and skills to master. And then there is plastic surgery, which is even more challenging. I always remind medical students who rotate with us that surgery is an amazing field if you love it!

In addition, no matter how hard the day before was, I always come to work the next day with a smile on my face. I believe that attitude is part of what helped me excel. When applying for plastic surgery, I knew it would be a tough road to get a spot as it is a very competitive specialty. I also knew that it was truly what I wanted to do so I was not going to let a challenge deter me.

My final piece of advice is don’t rush into making a decision on your specialty. If you don’t already know, keep an open mind. But when you do find that passion, go after it with everything you’ve got.

Myanna Charles

As acting senior medical officer and member of the National COVID-19 Sub-committee in Grenada’s Ministry of Health, Myanna Charles, MD ’16, MPH ’21, responded to the call to serve her country at a very critical time.

Tasked with limiting community spread and preventing as much suffering as possible caused by the COVID-19 virus, Dr. Charles recalled the long days and late nights spent working to ensure that Grenadians had the tools and education necessary to stem the impact of COVID.

Even though there were many challenges, she shared with SGU News that being able to provide technical support and advice in such an influential capacity to a people and a country that has given her so much is what continues to fuel her dedication to her job and to give back to Grenada.

St. George’s University: What motivated you to step up during such a crucial time in your country?

Dr. Charles: This might sound very cliché, but I am a child of the soil. Although it was a heavy call, I responded because I’m dedicated to serving the Grenadian people. In the height of the outbreak, there was no rest, our team was working seven days a week to keep our citizens safe. This country and University have afforded me the opportunity to study and practice medicine and public health. It seems only natural that I would want to give back without hesitation to the people, who have allowed me to achieve my dream of becoming a physician.

SGU: What are some of your responsibilities as part of Grenada’s COVID-19 public health response?

Dr. Charles: In collaboration with and under the leadership of the chief medical officer, Dr. Shawn Charles, MD ’17, MIB ’07, MBA ’08, I provided technical advice on public health measures at the ports of entry and in the community. These included testing requirements, entry forms for travel authorization and health declaration, and quarantine requirements for travelers. I also helped put into place measures to curb community spread, address vaccine hesitancy, and increase uptake in vaccinations. I also assisted with curfew measures, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation recommendations.

SGU: What do you find to be the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

Dr. Charles: Being able to practice an upstream approach to medicine and doing so in my own country. This approach has given me the opportunity to look at and address the root causes and social determinants of health. In doing so, I’m able to improve health and outcomes at a community and country level rather than at an individual level through policy and program management. Instead of treating the disease of individual patients and sending them back to the same environment, I am now able to look at where these patients are coming from and why they have a particular ailment—so that it never happens again. Preventive medicine is dear to me but being able to do so in my home country and for my people means everything to me.

SGU: How well has SGU prepared you for your journey as a physician?

Dr. Charles: My experience at SGU has been instrumental in who I am today. I particularly recall my clinical years in the United Kingdom. The experience there was integral to building up my interpersonal skills but also implanted that preventive approach to medicine in me. It also allowed me to cultivate a network of amazing friends and colleagues throughout the region. Networking is extremely important and I’m now able to tap into many of those resources today.

SGU: Any plans or future projects you’d like to share?

Dr. Charles: I intend to pursue my PhD and to continue my research on carcinogenic exposures. My hope is to improve health literacy in Grenada through effective health education one day, which can have a huge impact in disease care and prevention. People need to be more aware of their health and the importance that lifestyle measures play in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

SGU: What advice would you give to anyone considering becoming a doctor at SGU?

Dr. Charles: I want to encourage others to be more open to new experiences within the field of medicine. There is so much to explore so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Carmen Roessler, MD

For Carmen Roessler, MD ’14, there is great joy in the company she keeps. The native South African splits time between three sites within England’s National Health Service, including a rehabilitation unit for predominantly older patients who require physical and occupational therapy. It’s her job to develop their functionality and, ideally, their independence.

Along the way, she appreciates getting to hear about the path they took in life, and applying their healthcare goals to the treatment plan she gives them.

“They often have different insights and some amazing stories,” she said.

Dr. Roessler recently shared her story, one that began on a sugar cane farm outside of Durban and has taken her around the world.

What do you enjoy most about working with an older population?

I enjoy interacting with people who have had a lot more time in this world than I have. And along with that, people in this part of their lives can be quite lonely and frustrated. I’m glad to get a feel for who they really are and what’s important to them. There are nuances to caring for them as their priorities may be different than someone who is middle-aged.

What is one challenge facing physicians in this field?

One challenge is that there’s not a lot of evidence out there that’s based on putting older people in studies. If you think about most of the medicines that we take, they’re based on younger people having been in the clinical trials. I think there are limited insights into how medications are processed by older people. People at different stages of their life are going to respond to medications differently. This is an area of medicine where there needs to be more research, and we also need more people to be trained to work in this sphere of medicine.

You completed your GP training in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you believe it’s changed medicine?

COVID is still a major concern. It’s an ongoing threat to human life and human quality of life. One thing it has done is accelerate some of the technological advances that were probably already coming our way. There are benefits, but seeing someone in person can sometimes give you clues that you aren’t privy to if you’re having a telephone consultation. I think primary care is trying to balance and negotiate that very carefully.

When did pursuing an MD come on your radar?

I grew up on a sugar cane farm in South Africa. We had a bit of timber and cattle as well. I think the earliest roots of my interest in medicine were in nature or biology, and was probably inspired by growing up with a lot of contact with the outdoors. And then later on, I had a great aunt who was ill with cancer, and I found it rewarding to be able to offer her emotional support.

You spent your first year in the SGU/NU program in the UK. What was that like?

My experience in the Global Scholars program in the UK was brilliant. We had a smaller class size and we were a really tightly knit group. We built this sort of mini community that studied together and, when exams were over, we’d celebrate together. It was a fantastic bond. Together it was a time of growth and learning across multiple spheres.

In what ways did attending SGU help shape you as a physician?

Going to SGU exposed me to different cultures, different ways of thinking, and different ways of communicating. I think that it made me richer on a personal level; not only that but it has also made me a better communicator and hopefully, therefore, a more understanding doctor.

– Brett Mauser

Lewis Musoke, MD

As an infectious disease fellow at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, Lewis Musoke, MD ’16, is combating two pandemics at once—COVID-19, which the world has grappled with for nearly two years, and the still prevalent human immunodeficiency virus, better known as HIV.

Growing up in Kenya, Dr. Musoke was all too familiar with HIV. It was not only in the community but in his household and his circle of friends. That’s why he has committed his career to not only caring for patients afflicted with such diseases but making sure that his community is equipped with the information and resources they need to prevent it.

The St. George’s University graduate shared what he sees as similarities between the two pandemics, and the role he thinks the greater community can play to assist in the fight.

SGU: What do you think is the biggest issue in the HIV community?

Dr. Musoke: There’s a lot of stigma when it comes to HIV, and while we’ve come up with good medications to treat and suppress the virus, we still haven’t gotten to the point where we can sit down and talk about it the way we talk about diabetes or high blood pressure without feeling ashamed. And if you’re not talking about it, then in all likelihood you’re not thinking about it.

This percolates even to the physician level where people are not even testing for it as frequently as they should. We’ve become good in screening for things like colon cancer and breast cancer, but we’re still falling way short of the mark for screening for HIV, and it shows in high prevalent areas where we’re still having a lot of new infections.

SGU: What parallels do you see between the HIV/AIDS crisis and the ongoing COVID pandemic?

Dr. Musoke: The viruses are different but the principles are the same. One of the things that we can learn from HIV is the importance of getting the community engaged and educated. I think a problem that we have in this country and in the world is there’s a lot of misinformation, even at the provider level. It’s affecting our ability to be able to respond.

Back in the 1980s, the lack of education and desire to talk about HIV was what inhibited the progress of treating HIV. But the government shifted and now basically any HIV positive patient in the country, whether or not they have a job or access to healthcare, has pretty much subsidized healthcare through federal funding. My hope is that—as providers, physicians, patients, and the community—everybody understands the seriousness of these pandemics, and that we’re better equipped to tackle it as a whole. You can’t really isolate them to one part of the country. Everyone has to get involved, from all age groups or from all walks of life.

 

“SGU has a special place in my heart. I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

SGU: What drew you to specializing in infectious disease?

Dr. Musoke: Growing up in East Africa, you’re exposed to HIV from a very young age. HIV was—and still is—a prevalent issue not just in the community but within your household and circle of friends. What was inspiring to me was how, as drug development and treatment options improved, I started to appreciate the role that community outreach played. Some of the clinical trial data and outreach strategies that were implemented in East Africa ended up being used in the United States and around the world.

What solidified this career path for me was a public health field practicum through Boston University that turned out to be in Kenya. It was in a beautiful area right at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. I had never lived there, but I had probably driven past it as a child. The purview of the project was to evaluate public health interventions that had been placed in regard to improving access to water. Doing that made me realize the importance of public health, and also that a lot of those health issues were infectious disease related

SGU: How well did you fit in at SGU?

Dr. Musoke: It was clear very early on that SGU was the perfect fit. I went there and knew six or seven people from Kenya, but then you got to meet people from different parts of the world. It was beautiful to learn about their experiences and the different paths they were on. It was a strange sense of almost feeling like I was home.

I made a lot of close friends, and I even met my wife (Chandula Seneviratne, MD ’16). For those reasons and more, SGU has a special place in my heart. I wouldn’t have done anything differently.

SGU: As an international student, did you have the support you needed?

Dr. Musoke: The basic sciences training was rigorous, but you have a lot of support from the Department of Educational Services. If you’re struggling with something, you have a good support system to help you get back on track. And SGU doesn’t create this illusion that it’s going to be easy. They make you work for it, and I think that’s key. In my clinical rotations, a lot of the physicians were very impressed with how hard-working and diligent we all were, and I think that came from training at SGU. I think that if you put the work in and network, you’re going to make it far, if not further than any US school graduate.

– Brett Mauser

Devon Thomas, MD

What does it take to be a urology resident?

“You must be extremely hard working and empathetic at the same time,” said Devon Thomas, MD ’20, a second-year resident at The University of Florida College of Medicine—Jacksonville in the Department of Urology. “We are often taking care of patients in their most vulnerable state, which requires a lot of compassion and maturity.”

In urology, one of most competitive medical fields to get into, Dr. Thomas said her training varies day-to-day. “It includes both inpatient and outpatient responsibilities with the majority of my training focusing on surgical skills and surgical training for the genitourinary system,” she said.

Dr. Thomas shared what’s most exciting about the specialty excites her, her plans post-residency, and the essential advice she has for aspiring physicians.

St. George’s University: Why did you choose this career path/specialty? Did you always want to become a doctor?

Dr. Thomas: I always wanted to become a doctor. I truly can’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a doctor and I grew up telling people I was going to be a surgeon. I had some medical conditions as a child, so I actually became very familiar with hospitals and being around doctors, and I was always intrigued by the medical field. I also really like working with my hands and helping people, so I felt surgery was my true calling.

SGU: What excites you most about the work that you do? 

Dr. Thomas: The most exciting part of my job is definitely the surgical aspect. I love getting new cases and trying to analyze the best avenues for treatment and patient care. Each patient is different and requires a slightly different surgical approach, which requires using some creativity when devising a surgery plan.

SGU: What was your reaction when you found out where you were headed for residency?

Dr. Thomas: I was ecstatic when I got my residency match. Urology is one of the most competitive specialties in medicine so I was very anxious that I wouldn’t match into it. When I got the email that I not only matched into the specialty of my dreams but also was getting to go back to my home state, I truly could not have been happier.

SGU: How well do you feel that SGU prepared you for this next step in your journey?

Dr. Thomas: I think SGU prepared me extremely well for residency. SGU gave me the foundation to be an excellent basic sciences student, which helped me excel on the USMLE exams. In my clinical rotations, I was constantly pushed to be the best clinical student I could be, which in turn made me a hard-working resident. I wouldn’t be where I am today without SGU.

SGU: You were recently named Intern of the Year by the hospital where you work. Describe how that made you feel.

Dr. Thomas: It was great to see that all of my hard work throughout the year was recognized by my mentors and made me want to continue to strive for even more excellence.

SGU: What insights would you share to future PGY-1 residents about what residency is like?

Dr. Thomas: Future PGY-1s should know that residency is unlike anything they’ve ever done before. They will have more responsibility than they ever have. At first, it can feel very overwhelming, but in the end it is worth it. In addition, you will always have people to learn from and support you, which makes things easier.

SGU: What advice would you give to someone on a similar journey to becoming a physician?

Dr. Thomas: My advice for future physicians is—don’t give up and don’t take no for an answer. There were multiple times along my journey that I heard “you won’t match into urology,” but I refused to believe that and worked even harder when someone doubted me.

SGU: What’s next after residency?  

Dr. Thomas: I’m looking at fellowships for when I finish residency. I am interested in becoming a reconstructive urologist and am trying to begin preparing my applications for that.

Philip Manners, MD

Philip Manners, MD ’11, calls hospitalists the “gatekeepers to the hospital,” and as an attending physician at three acclaimed hospitals in the United States, he’s in a unique position to assess and implement the strengths of each department in each location.

“It’s like you’re a project manager for the patient. You really have to know how each hospital department works,” said Dr. Manners, who splits his time between UCLA Health, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins Medicine. “You have to look at the entire picture and view the patient as a whole. A sub-specialist can provide invaluable input very specific to their field of practice, but it’s up to the hospitalist to collect and assess all the available information, problem-solve conflicting recommendations, and unify the plan. Then the hospitalist can implement a cohesive plan that ultimately provides the most benefit to the patient.”

And in addition to his clinical duties, Dr. Manners is on faculty at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is a major in the US Army Reserve.

The native Brit shared how he juggles his responsibilities and how his role emphasizes adaptability and communication, no matter where he’s seeing patients.

SGU: What about being a hospitalist have you enjoyed most?

Dr. Manners: I like helping sicker patients. That’s not to say that I like people to be sicker, but I like taking care of people with a higher acuity that require more complex management and a higher level of care. The challenges are greater, but that’s what makes it more rewarding when you have a successful outcome and make a positive difference to a patient’s life.

Even though I trained in full-spectrum family medicine, I find the inpatient side more satisfying. You can really see the difference you make unfold in front of you. It affords you more time with the patient, whereas in primary care, there’s always a battle of time and not having enough of it. With hospital medicine, you have more breathing room to really get your teeth into the patient’s problems.

SGU: What kind of person is best fit for a hospitalist role?

Dr. Manners: To be a hospitalist, you have to be comfortable with patients who do have that higher acuity. If they’re sick enough to be in the hospital, there’s usually a complicated mix of problems and comorbidities. Also, you must be able to adapt to situations that can change quickly. One minute you can be dealing with a patient who is stable and ready for discharge, and the next you can be walking into a rapid response or a code. There are two ends of the spectrum there. Emergency medicine is similar to this, but the main difference with hospital medicine is you get follow the patient’s journey and see the progress they make. If you like the higher acuity, and the continuity of care, then hospital medicine is probably a better fit for you.

 

“Being able to see the difference between the three hospitals is also intriguing. In a lot of ways, the job is fundamentally the same. The medicine is the same. But the systems and processes can vary widely.”

 

SGU: You were at Massachusetts General Hospital when the COVID-19 pandemic began. What was your role there?

Dr. Manners: I was in the middle of my disaster medicine fellowship at that time so, on the one hand, it was great because I could practice what I was training for, but on the other, the reality of a global pandemic was terrifying. Most hospitals have a small set of rooms that can accommodate airborne isolation, and we started off using those. We were implementing similar isolation procedures like we did for SARS and MERS. With COVID though, it soon became apparent that the isolation rooms were going to run out quickly, as did the PPE.

It’s a huge undertaking to upend a hospital’s entire standard operating procedures. The hospital incident command system kicked in and we essentially had to rewrite how the hospital was going to function. The hospitalists were at the forefront of this because we were the ones who were getting the COVID patients. We ended up converting entire medical and surgical floors into COVID-only floors, and oncology rooms were converted to make COVID ICU rooms. It was fascinating to see it evolve and to be on the front line of that. It was something that you read about, and try to prepare for, but hope you never have to actually experience.

SGU: You work at three locations on two coasts in the US. How is that experience unique?

Dr. Manners: One reason that I like working in large academic medical institutions is that you have access to a large range of sub-specialty care and resources—things that are on the cutting edge of medicine. I’m humbled to be learning from leaders in their respective fields. Being able to see the difference between the three hospitals is also intriguing. In a lot of ways, the job is fundamentally the same. The medicine is the same. But the systems and processes can vary widely. By identifying the things that work well—and don’t work well—at each hospital, I can use that information to refine and improve the care I give.

SGU: How was your experience as an SGU student?

Dr. Manners: I absolutely loved my time on the island. One major benefit of going to Grenada is that medical school became your whole world. You live and breathe SGU. Your classmates become your family. You forge close friendships by going through it together, and I don’t think you would develop those types of bonds and relationships in a US or UK medical school setting.

And then in clinicals, we had the opportunity to experience a large variety of clinical settings, in a range of geographical locations, where we had different resources, different patient populations, and learned different ways to practice medicine. It enabled me to become a very adaptable and open-minded physician.

I always tell people that medical school was the best experience of my life. I would go back and do it all again in a heartbeat.

– Brett Mauser

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Nina Stephens-Snowden

SGU: Why did you choose to become OB/GYN?
Dr. Stephens-Snowden: I have a great interest in women’s health and, also, I like that you get a little bit of everything with the OB/GYN specialty (i.e. primary care, emergency medicine, and surgery etc.).

SGU: How did you become passionate about helping underserved communities?
Dr. Stephens-Snowden: I come from that community, so it was quite easy to have a passion to help the underserved.

SGU: How did you feel when you were accepted to SGU?
Dr. Stephens-Snowden: I was and still am very happy that I chose to go to SGU in 2017.  I would not be who I am today at this moment if that wouldn’t have happened

SGU: Tell us your Match Day story.
Dr. Stephens-Snowden:
I used Match A Resident initially to narrow down all the programs that took my Step 1 score.  I then used other resources like FREIDA and Residency Explorer to solidify my list.  I applied to three different specialties (IM, FM, and OB) and over 400 programs.  I received 30 interviews and ranked 20 programs.

Prior to the Match season, I attended multiple virtual conferences where I was able to meet program directors, coordinators, and residents. I then made sure I got contact information and followed up after conference. I think that really helped as far as allowing the programs to know who you are and showing your interest.

Match Day was absolutely nerve racking because I was scared to go unmatched. Once I got the email, it was definitely a sigh of relief. Of course, I had to wait until that Friday to know what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life and where I would train (still very anxiety provoking). Needless to say, I was very pleased where I matched and am so humbled to be training as an OB/GYN. God is good!

SGU: What are your professional goals?
Dr. Stephens-Snowden:
I would like to do a fellowship in maternal fetal medicine, but honestly would also be happy as a generalist. I would like to work with SGU and CARICOM to give back to the Caribbean community as well.

SGU: How will you look back at your time at SGU?
Dr. Stephens-Snowden: BEST DECISION EVER.