Alicia Persaud, MD/MPH

Canadian resident, Alicia Persaud, MD/MPH ’20, has always dreamed of being able to practice medicine near loved ones and family in Ontario. As a dual degree graduate of St. George’s University, Dr. Persaud completed residency at Queen’s University family medicine program in June 2023. She is now an attending physician in family medicine.

Recently, Dr. Persaud shared her SGU experience with aspiring physicians as part of a panel discussion at SGULive: Toronto. The event, which took place on October 29, featured representatives from SGU’s Offices of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Scholarships, as well as SGU School of Medicine graduates who took part in a panel discussion to share their personal journeys from med students to practicing doctors in Canada. More than 160 prospective students and guests attended the event to learn more about attending SGU.

Learn more about an upcoming SGULive or in-person SGU information session 


Dr. Persaud elaborated to SGU News on why she chose SGU, how she was able to succeed in medical school and return home to Canada to practice, and what motivates her as a family medicine doctor.

“SGU gave me the opportunity to learn medicine and excel. I learned how to overcome challenges and obstacles, become resilient and resourceful. These are skills I apply daily as a physician,” Dr. Persaud said.

Read more about Dr. Persaud below.

SGU: Why did you want to become a doctor?
Dr. Persaud:
Like many of my colleagues, I knew I wanted to become a doctor from an early age. I had a strong drive to care for others around me and that only grew with time. I was always drawn to the sciences, and so medicine became a natural path to align my personal interests, values, and career goals.

SGU: Why did you choose SGU?
Dr. Persaud:
I chose SGU for a few reasons. My uncle was an alumnus who studied there back in the 1980s and now runs a successful practice in the US. Second, I was given a great scholarship upon acceptance. Thirdly, I wanted to go abroad and experience living on my own. I felt that among the Caribbean schools I was interested in, SGU had the best reputation and could offer the most. It didn’t hurt that it’s located on a beautiful island with lovely people!

SGU: How did SGU prepare you for residency back in Canada?
Dr. Persaud:
SGU was able to prepare me for residency by granting me many clinical rotation opportunities across the US. The basic sciences portion of the MD program was also robust, and help was always available if needed.

SGU: How did a dual degree help you when seeking residency?
Dr. Persaud:
 I believe completing the MD/MPH dual degree program gave me an edge with residency programs simply by having an additional degree. It was reflective of my commitment to medicine and healthcare in general. Completing my MPH in Grenada gave me a unique insight into the global public health sector and also gave me crucial research experience. I was able to apply both degrees to my research projects during residency. While in Grenada, I completed my thesis project on ‘Texting and Driving in Grenada’, analyzing how traffic accidents/ incidents have increased secondary to texting. It highlighted a need for legislation on texting while driving among several Parishes. While in residency, I worked on a Lung Diagnostic Program QI study at Queen’s University. I also completed a literature review on Adverse Childhood Experiences and how this impacts the development of adult obesity later in life.

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SGULive: Toronto, took place on October 29, 2023, and featured representatives from SGU’s Offices of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Scholarships, as well as SGU School of Medicine graduates who took part in a panel discussion to share their personal journeys from med students to practicing doctors in Canada. More than 160 prospective students and guests attended the event to learn more about attending SGU.

SGU: What do you like about family medicine?
Dr. Persaud:
I learned quickly that in Ontario, there is much flexibility within this field. You can choose to subspecialize or focus your practice if desired. Family medicine encompasses a broad range of topics and is ‘cradle to grave’ oriented. This allows me to provide comprehensive care for a wide array of patients. You always see something new in this field of medicine—it is rewarding and fascinating!

SGU: What motivates you in the morning to go to your job?
Dr. Persaud:
 What motivates me is patient need. I am excited to go to work and make a difference in the lives of everyday people. I think about my own family and how doctors have impacted them by being available, advocating for and advising them throughout each stage of their lives. As a result, I am a strong believer in patient safety and education. I hope to provide a level of care to my patients that they can be confident in and satisfied with.

SGU: What advice do you have for SGU students who are hoping to practice in Canada after graduation? 
Dr. Persaud:
 For students of SGU who aspire to complete a Canadian residency, I advise that they complete as many rotations (electives) in Canada as possible. It is also recommended to obtain reference letters from Canadian preceptors that students work closely with. I would also suggest finding IMG residents in the program of interest and asking for advice/review of applications and your CV, as this can be different than what is used for the US. It is important to keep up to date on Canadian requirements (exams, CARMS process, etc.) as you go through the process. Remember, if you need information, always go to the direct source. Stay organized!

SGU: What is the biggest piece of advice you have for aspiring physicians considering SGU or the application process?
Dr. Persaud: Applications can be daunting to any school as lots of moving parts are involved. Set up a ‘to do list’ and work through the items in a priority sequence. Anticipate that things may take longer to prepare than others and tackle them first. Stay organized with a calendar, and use technology to help you! Create a drive and save important documents onto it; this will come in handy as you progress through your applications and schooling.

SGU: Is there anything else you would like to say about SGU?
Dr. Persaud: Take advantage of all the opportunities the school has to offer!


This graduate profile was published in November 2023. 

Dr. Julia Hweyryoung Cho

Born in South Korea, Dr. Julia Hweyryoung Cho moved frequently as an international student since she was 11 years old. Her desire to pursue medicine first occurred when she was very young while watching her elderly grandparents struggle with age-related health issues. She simply wanted to find a way to cure them. Throughout her academic career, Dr. Cho was drawn to both biology and philosophy. Combining her childhood motivation with her intellectual curiosity made becoming a physician the natural choice.

Dr. Cho recently matched and will start her internal medicine residency at MetroHealth in Cleveland, Ohio. She chose to pursue internal medicine because she enjoys the diverse and challenging clinical scenarios it offers and the constant need to handle complex cases requiring a multidisciplinary approach. Internal medicine also provides a path to sub-specialization—an added bonus. Although Dr. Cho hasn’t decided whether to pursue a fellowship in geriatrics or endocrinology yet, she believes the decision will solidify by meeting mentors and exploring available resources within the program.

We spoke with Dr. Cho about her experiences at SGU and her advice for medical students.

St. George’s University: How did you feel about Grenada as a study destination for the basic sciences?

Dr. Cho: Grenada is a beautiful island, and I’m glad I made the right choice to study there. Since most of my colleagues and I were far away from home, we formed a special bond with each other. In addition to creating study groups, we also went grocery shopping together on the bus to IGA—the supermarket located outside of the campus—and even explored the wilderness to visit one of the waterfalls. Studying in Grenada provides a unique setting that leads to unforgettable memories I will carry for the rest of my life. Studying in Grenada also made taking care of my mental and physical health easier, thanks to the ability to visit the gym every morning and run on the treadmill while facing the ocean and watching the sunrise.

SGU: Were you involved in any clubs while in Grenada?

Dr. Cho: Yes, I was a part of Iota Epsilon Alpha (IEA) and the Christian Student Association (CSA). During my time in IEA, I participated in the diabetic clinic outreach program and tutored Term 1 and 2 students. In CSA, beyond attending the beautiful and vibrant worship services run by students on Sunday mornings, I participated in multiple community service projects. These included visiting the Home for the Aged and the Bel Air Children’s Home.

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

Dr. Cho: SGU was ideal for me because it prepared me for board exams. While everyone has different learning styles, I found multiple choice question (MCQ) sessions to be especially helpful. These sessions allowed me to discuss my thought process with colleagues while also assessing my own level of understanding compared to others. Additionally, SGU was helpful for me because the exams reflect the style of board exams. This is achieved by utilizing computer-based multiple-choice questions that are given within a strict time limit.

SGU: What advice would you give to students (especially international students) who are coming to Grenada for the first time to study at SGU?

Dr. Cho: My advice would be to embrace the culture and enjoy the experience. Grenada is a beautiful island with a rich culture and friendly people. Take the time to explore the island and its many attractions, such as the beautiful beaches and hiking trails. It’s also important to balance your studies with other activities and hobbies to avoid burnout. Lastly, my advice would be to reach out to the SGU community for support and guidance.

SGU: Why was SGU the right fit for you?

Dr. Cho: For me, SGU provided a comprehensive medical education that prepared me to be successful in the US healthcare system. During my clinical rotations in the US, I was provided hands-on experience and exposure to the American healthcare system, making my transition to residency, and practicing medicine in the US smoother.

Kansho Abiko, MD

Dr. Kansho Abiko’s interest in becoming a doctor was born out of living his formative years across three different countries. Born in Tianjin, China, Dr. Abiko moved to Japan at the age of 12, where he attended junior high school and high school. When it was time for college he settled in the United States where he earned his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry at the University of Buffalo, before heading to St. George’s University for his medical education.

In addition to always wanting to help people as a child, he also sought to obtain the skills and knowledge used in different countries and regions to treat people.

“Medicine is a science that transcends national languages, races, and physicians,” Dr. Abiko said. “It can address patients’ suffering when they are most difficult and in need. That’s why I wanted to become a doctor.”

Presently, Dr. Abiko is an internal medicine resident at Abington Memorial Hospital Jefferson Health (now Jefferson Abington Hospital) in Abington, PA. He shared how he discovered SGU, details the process of becoming a doctor in the US, and the advice he gives to aspiring medical students.

St. George’s University: When and how did you learn about SGU?

Dr. Abiko: When I was in college in Buffalo, I shadowed local doctors, including SGU graduates, who recommended this university to me. During the same period of doctor shadowing, I came to realize that the United States was advanced in basic sciences and clinical research. Doctors can use these research results effectively and quickly in clinical treatment and diagnosis.

SGU: Explain what a residency is in the medical school process and what challenges lie in it for international students trying to get into medical school.

Dr. Abiko: The so-called residency in the United States is the first job for all doctors after graduating from medical school, and it is also the first clinical training that all doctors must undergo. At that time, as an international student in the United States, it was very unlikely that I would be admitted to a US medical school. Compared with medical schools in other countries, SGU could help me return to the United States as a resident, or, as a university that is most likely to place me in a residency, so I chose SGU.

SGU: Can you explain what the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is?

Dr. Abiko: A person who wants to be a doctor in the United States must obtain a residency placement in the United States. But there are two challenges: the first one is USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam). This is the physician licensing exam that all doctors must pass in order to become licensed in the US.  The exam is difficult, especially for doctors or students who do not study medicine in English, however SGU provided me with many resources to help excel on the exam.

SGU: What is the hospital application process for becoming a resident in the US?

Dr. Abiko: First, applicants must submit a Statement of Purpose form or application form to the hospital. This starts from the end of September of your fourth year of medical school.  The hospitals will look at the students’ grades through the application form, as well as letters of recommendation provided by doctors in the US, and other elements. The hospitals will then invite some of the students for interviews. Interviews are conducted between October and February of the following year.

Students generally apply to many hospitals and are invited to interview by some of them. In previous years, we would fly to every city to interview at every hospital.

SGU: What is the Match process like for medical students and how does it work?

Dr. Abiko: Candidates and students provide a list to rank the hospitals they want to go to, and the hospitals also provide a list at the same time, listing the types of residents or students they want. These two lists are processed by a third-party organization, and they use a computer program that matches the students with the hospitals. On the third Friday in March each year, the students get the results of the Match program and learn where they are going for residency.

SGU: Where and when did you Match and how did you feel about it?

Dr. Abiko: I was matched to the internal medicine department at Abington Memorial Hospital Jefferson Health (now Jefferson Abington Hospital). This is a medium-to-large community hospital located north of Philadelphia, PA. I’m very happy with this result because this hospital has a very good residency education program, and their doctors take education very seriously.

SGU: How did an SGU education, which is USMLE-focused and includes clinical rotations in the US, help you to become a doctor?

Dr. Abiko: I think my education at SGU gave me a great advantage throughout the application process. All SGU courses are taught in English and are based on the USMLE syllabus. This helped me get good grades. Moreover, the clinical rotations in Year 3 and 4 are also carried out in the United States. This gave me ample opportunity to learn from many doctors in the US, and at the same time for me to demonstrate my ability in the process of working with them. In the end, I got a lot of good references.

SGU: What advice would you give to aspiring doctors?

Dr. Abiko: Medicine is not a very difficult or complicated subject, but there are many things to learn, and the constant updating of this knowledge requires doctors to learn constantly. Doctors carry a heavy burden, and every medical decision they make is based on their knowledge and experience, and every decision has the potential to impact a patient’s life. It doesn’t sound glamorous. But what if you think about it from a different angle? When doctors can help patients solve major health issues in life, doctors get a satisfaction that no other profession can compare.

SGU: Any last words of inspiration to medical students on their path to becoming a doctor? 

Dr. Abiko: It’s a good start to have an interest in medicine. Don’t forget your original intention. Use your desire to become a doctor plus your hope as a driving force to keep working hard. If you don’t give up, you will be successful.


Iman Naimi, MD

Iman Naimi’s, MD ’14, career interests were solidified during his third- and fourth-year clinical rotations as a St. George’s University medical student. The mentorships and experiences he gained directed him toward the path he’s been on ever since, pursuing a pediatric residency and then pediatric cardiology and congenital interventional cardiology fellowships.

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Dr. Naimi has been on quite a journey. As an aspiring medical professional, he went from Canada to Grenada to the US, and then finally back to Canada where he is now a congenital interventional cardiologist at Stollery Children’s Hospital and Manzankowski Alberta Heart Institute, as well as a clinical assistant professor of pediatric cardiology at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Naimi shared how he made his way back to Canada to achieve his dream of becoming a physician in his home country.

St. George’s University: Why did you choose your specialty?

Dr. Naimi: I have always had an interest in cardiology and cardiac surgery. However, during my third- and fourth-year rotations my love for pediatric cardiology and interventional cardiology was greatly influenced by the mentorship and experiences I had in general pediatrics at St. Barnabas Medical Center with Dr. Margolin, Pediatric Cardiac ICU at Miami Children’s Hospital, and interventional cardiology with Dr. Marc Cohen at Newark Beth Israel. I was fascinated by the variety and complexity of congenital heart disease and transcatheter interventions to treat or palliate such lesions. At this time in the program, I decided to apply to pediatrics with the intention of pursuing cardiology and interventional cardiology.

SGU: Where did you match and what was your match experience like?

Dr. Naimi: I matched at SUNY Upstate Medical University for a pediatric residency and matched in Seattle Children’s Hospital and University of Washington Medical Center for pediatric cardiology and congenital interventional cardiology fellowships.

I knew SUNY Upstate Medical University has always had a great track record for residents matching in top fellowship spots across the country. Therefore, I was very excited and relieved that I matched at a University Programs knowing that I wanted to pursue pediatric cardiology.

My match experience at Seattle Children’s-UW for cardiology was surreal, and I vividly remember the match day. I knew I would get the best hands-on training there, leading to amazing opportunities for matching into an excellent advanced-fellowship spot in interventional cardiology and securing a competitive faculty position after graduation.

SGU: Did you always know you wanted to practice in Canada and how did you prepare for that?

Dr. Naimi: Canada is my home, and I always knew that one day I would return and practice somewhere in Canada after my training.

At SGU, I joined the Canadian Student Association and went to all the info sessions to stay up to date with different provincial policies and elective sites. While in school, I took the MCCEE alongside the USMLE. I also did a family medicine rotation in Vancouver, BC, and was able to obtain an excellent recommendation letter to increase my chances of matching into the Canadian residency program. However, after learning the timeline of CaRMS relative to the US match, I decided to only apply for US residency programs.

I then decided to take the Royal College Exam for Pediatrics to ensure I could eventually obtain a license to practice in Canada. During my fellowship, when looking for a job in Canada, I found that Alberta (CPSA) did not require me to take the Royal College Exam for Cardiology, and since I was boarded in the US, I could obtain a practice permit in Canada.

SGU: What advice do you have for SGU students who are hoping to practice in Canada after graduation?

Dr. Naimi: What I have learned is that the best way to prepare is to plan ahead. This entails getting involved with the Canadian Student Association and attending all the meetings and information sessions. It is very important to reach out to Canadian programs early on in your training to inquire about elective rotation opportunities. Given the timeline of the Canadian and US match in the past, I personally chose to apply only for US residency and fellowship spots and was still able to land a job in Canada. If you choose this path, depending on the Province that you want to work in, you may be required to take the Royal College Exams. It is crucial to know the timeline of all the Canadian exams and be prepared to take them alongside the US exams. This will provide ease when applying to Canadian residency programs or job opportunities after you complete your training.

If you maintain a high GPA and board scores, as well as excel in your clerkship training by demonstrating that you can perform well in a busy clinical setting, you will set yourself apart from others. Throughout your training, it is very important to form strong connections with mentors, especially those within the institution and program that you would like to pursue, allowing you to receive excellent recommendation letters for residency opportunities after graduation.

SGU: Looking back on your journey to where you are today, why was SGU the right fit for you?

Dr. Naimi: SGU gave me the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a physician. It is through its extensive clinical affiliations that I was able to secure clerkships in many great hospitals that provided me with amazing mentorship opportunities that helped me find my path and pursue my dream.

Natalie Harford, BSc/MD

Grenadian nationals Natalie Harford, MD ’22, and her older brother Nicholas Harford, MD ’20, have always been inseparable when it came to attending school. So, it came as no surprise when Dr. Natalie Harford made the decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps and attend St. George’s University two years after he enrolled.

“The fact that my brother went to SGU played a big part in my decision at the time,” said Dr. Harford, who graduated this past June. “What can I say—my brother has always been a successful role model throughout my life, and I don’t regret my decision to apply to SGU one bit.”

Indeed, the family had much to celebrate as the younger Dr. Harford walked across the stage to be hooded by her sibling at SGU’s 41st commencement ceremony at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. Like her brother two years earlier, she and her fellow students from the Class of 2022 join a network of more than 19,000 alumni practicing in the United States and around the world.

“Hooding my sister was a great honor,” said Dr. Nicholas Harford, currently an internal medicine resident in Connecticut and the first doctor in their family.

“It was also extra special to be a part of the experience standing on stage since I wasn’t able to stand there at my own commencement ceremony in 2020 due to the pandemic. We owe that moment to our parents as they supported both of our dreams to become doctors. It would not have been possible without them.”

A Family Celebration

Having two children in medical school at the same time did provide a challenge for the Harford siblings’ parents—with both working full time jobs to make their children’s dream of becoming physicians possible. Their mother, Pratima Harford, also ran a successful international take-out food stall called Flavor House just outside of the True Blue campus. Over the years, she’s fed many SGU students and sometimes acted as a second mother while they were studying far from home.

“It was definitely a lot of sacrifice and a huge life challenge that we took on as a family,” shared Mrs. Harford. “The moment when our son hooded our daughter, we felt like we were witnessing our nine years of hard work come together in that one special moment. We couldn’t have been prouder of how happy and successful they both have become. It was truly a celebratory day for our entire family.”

A Doctor in the Making

Born in Guyana, and living in the Fiji Islands for five years, the Harford family eventually moved to Grenada.

Upon graduating from secondary school in Grenada, Dr. Natalie Harford had the option to attend T. A. Marryshow Community College or apply to SGU’s premedical program. Passionate about science—particularly anatomy—she carefully considered her options before joining her brother at SGU.

“I was drawn to SGU because it offered me a continuous seven-year pathway to earn my medical degree,” stated Dr. Harford. “And who wouldn’t want to enjoy being in the comfort of their home country to complete a degree, especially when it happens to be a paradise island like Grenada.”


“The best advice I can give anyone considering applying to medical school is to go after your passions and don’t be afraid to encounter challenges on the journey, it makes the reward that much sweeter.”


During her time at SGU, Dr. Harford was a member of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and the Indian Cultural Student Association (ICSA). She was also a teaching member of the Department of Educational Services (DES) and the Academic Enhancement Program (AEP).

“At SGU I grew both academically and personally,” said Dr. Harford. “In addition to pursing my medical degree, I had the pleasure of expanding my knowledge on the different cultural backgrounds of my peers and newly made friends. This was an invaluable experience, learning how to communicate and understand someone else’s belief system and how it impacts their lives—a skill I foresee utilizing to better the way I communicate in both my practice of medicine and in my everyday life.”

Dr. Harford will be entering the 2023 Match and hopes to secure a residency in pediatrics. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in her clinical rotation timeline causing delays which prevented her from applying to this year’s Match.

“From day one of my pediatrics core rotation, I fell in love with the energy, the people, and the patients,” she said. “Being a part of a pediatric team of healthcare professionals feels like my niche, and I cannot wait to join this amazing specialty.”

For now, Dr. Harford’s current plans include giving back to her alma mater as a teaching fellow, while brushing up on her Spanish and sign language skills, along with completing her USMLE Step 2 examinations and her ERAS application.

“The best advice I can give anyone considering applying to medical school is to go after your passions and don’t be afraid to encounter challenges on the journey, it makes the reward that much sweeter,” she said.

Asa Radix, MD

Asa Radix, MD ’88, PhD, MPH decided to pursue medicine out of a desire to offer patient-centered healthcare in an often-overlooked community in need.  Dr. Radix’s career has focused on LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Ally, plus) health and policy and being able to ensure patients receive quality care that is respectful, non-judgmental, and meets the unique needs of members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Dr. Radix is originally from Grenada and attended SGU on one of the first Grenadian scholarships. They currently serve as senior director of research and education at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York City—which has a mission to serve LGBTQIA+ communities and people with HIV.

In addition to their work at Callen-Lorde, Dr. Radix is a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University and holds faculty appointments at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Yale University. Over the years, they’ve developed expertise in transgender health and contributed to several US and international clinical practice guidelines and textbooks.

In honor of pride month, SGU News spoke with Dr. Radix to find out more about their experience providing care to the LGBTQIA+ community and the journey to becoming an expert in this field.

St. George’s University: Why did you choose your specialty?

Dr. Radix: I trained in internal medicine and then completed a fellowship in infectious disease. Infectious disease is a broad specialty, but it is a good field for people who like clinical practice as well as research. I like the diversity of the specialty. You can focus on many different areas such as travel medicine, global health, antibiotic stewardship, and emerging infectious diseases as well as a choice of inpatient or outpatient settings.

I mainly focus on HIV and Hepatitis C but still see patients with a wide variety of issues.

SGU: What are some unique medical needs of the LGBTQIA+ community? 

Dr. Radix: Members of the LGBTQIA+ community also have other social identities or groups to which they belong with varying health priorities. There are some issues that are common for all, such as difficulty in finding respectful healthcare providers as well as frequently facing discrimination in health settings. As a result, LGBTQIA+ individuals may underutilize cancer screening interventions, and there are often higher rates of substance abuse, including tobacco use, which is probably related to experiencing social stressors such as interpersonal and structural discrimination. In addition, it is important for medical providers to offer appropriate HIV/STI screenings and HIV prevention interventions (e.g., pre-exposure prophylaxis) to those who are eligible.

SGU: What training can physicians interested in working in LGBTQIA+ healthcare participate in?

Dr. Radix: There isn’t a specialty in LGBTQIA+ health. However, there are healthcare environments with a mission to care for LGBTQIA+ individuals, such as health centers like Callen-Lorde or dedicated clinics at other institutions. Many require training in a primary care specialty, such as internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics. Usually, these centers provide training in LGBTQIA+ health since most incoming providers have not had adequate experience during their medical school or residency training.

There are also organizations, such as GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality and The LGBT Health Workforce Conference that hold annual meetings for clinicians who are interested in this field.

SGU: When you look back at your professional journey to this point, what stands out to you most as being the most formative experiences?

Dr. Radix: I trained in the early 1990s when HIV was one of the most important and prevalent health issues that we saw. It was also a time when there were few therapeutic options available. Taking care of individuals living with HIV was a major motivation for pursuing a fellowship in infectious disease.

SGU: How did your experience at SGU help prepare you for your career?

Dr. Radix: I was fortunate to do most of my clinical rotations in the United Kingdom and to be exposed to a diverse student body throughout my SGU experience. The love of travel continued, and I completed a diploma in tropical medicine in London during my infectious disease fellowship as well as a Master of Philosophy in epidemiology at Cambridge, later leading to a PhD at Columbia University.

Michael Keenaghan, MD

Before deciding to attend medical school at St. George’s University, Michael Keenaghan, MD ’06, considered entering the field of astrophysics with hopes of becoming an astronaut. He had been filled with a desire to both “know” everything and to help people. However, it was a family friend and former chair of pediatrics who recommended he apply to SGU, which inspired him on the path to specializing in pediatric critical care.

Not only does Dr. Keenaghan have a passion for his specialty of choice, that passion also extends to teaching the next generation of medical students. Since completing his residency training at SUNY Downstate (he served an additional year as chief resident) and his fellowship at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital Columbia University, Dr. Keenaghan has been involved in academic medicine. At NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County, where he worked for the past eight years, he was the associate director of pediatric critical care and associate chief academic officer. While there he developed and managed a pediatric simulation center focused on developing trainees’ procedural skills.

In 2013, he took on an associate professor position at SGU where he assisted students at patients’ bedsides at Kings County hospital. Three years later, he was appointed associate medical director of education and became involved with advising students initially with SGU’s Office of Career Guidance and then through its onsite student advisors.

But little did he know that his two passions would eventually lead him back to Grenada one day. Earlier this year, Dr. Keenaghan accepted a full time position within the School of Medicine as an assistant dean of students, moving with his family back to the island. In this new position, Dr. Keenaghan manages SOM’s academic advisors for clinical students. He discussed with SGU News his new role, how it feels to also teach Term 5 SOM students, and his plans to work with Grenada General Hospital to support and grow its pediatric critical care service.

St. George’s University: Can you share why you wanted to come back to Grenada and work at your alma mater?

Dr. Keenaghan: I was given a great opportunity to help students achieve their academic goals, as well as provide pediatric critical care support for the children of Grenada.

One of the best rewards in being an intensivist, after caring for an extremely sick child—a day, a week, or a month later when all the lines and breathing tubes have been removed—they smile. It is a priceless moment.

SGU: What are you most passionate about in your work?

Dr. Keenaghan: Each doctor, over the course of their career can contribute to about 2,000-2,500 extra patient lives lived. In pediatric intensive care, if I do my job well, I may contribute far more since my patients are so young. However, being able to help many more caring people become doctors every year, multiples that logarithmically. Alone I can help some, but together we can help the world. Being a teacher and assistant dean at SGU truly makes that possible.

SGU: Share what your experience was like at SGU and its impact on your life?

Dr. Keenaghan: I met my future wife a month before moving to Grenada in 2002.  Being 2,100 miles apart, she kept me focused on my studies and not distracted. She was my greatest support when school was the hardest. I think without her I wouldn’t be a doctor, but without SGU there would be no us, and our five amazing boys. Grenada gave me my first two dogs, lifelong friends throughout the world, and now is the place that I call home. I’d say it had a pretty large impact.

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

Dr. Keenaghan: I felt extremely prepared. I learned to persevere when things may not be in my favor, which has helped me on to all the next steps. From those lessons I learned the power of second chances, both in my own experiences and in my patients.

SGU: What plans do you have for the future in your new role?

Dr. Keenaghan: They are too numerous to count, but I’ll start with growing the Clinical Academic Advising Development and Support team and services to continue to help students succeed. Also, providing support to the healthcare professionals at the Grenada General Hospital in any way they need.

SGU: What advice would you give to prospective students who are considering applying to SGU?

Dr. Keenaghan: Don’t hesitate to follow your dream. Dedicating yourself to study and becoming a physician means giving up a few things for a few years. While pursuing your MD there are no immediate rewards along the way, but the long-term ones are worth every minute and every penny. Sitting in biochemistry learning about mitochondria for the third time, may not be the most fun, but standing in the ICU remembering that methylene blue improves mitochondrial respiration and starting it on a patient with severe shock, then saving their life, that’s worth it.

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.