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.
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.
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.