Dr. Peter Barrett’s dream of becoming a doctor was triggered by The Making of a Surgeon, a book he read when he was ten years old. He discovered that he was fascinated by the idea of treating people to make them better, and that he was in particular drawn to surgery, because it offered immediate results. He found his life’s calling at St. George’s University in Grenada, and now teaches young people, with their own dreams, at Yale, where he is assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery and medical director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Intensive Care Unit (CT SICU).
In 1981, he enrolled in St. George’s University’s School of Medicine during the school’s early years. “The University was a work in progress,” Dr. Barrett recalled. “I followed several of my college classmates who had enrolled there. Everyone was very talented; and worked hard every day — they clearly wanted to be in medicine. It was a very positive experience.”
After graduating in 1985, Dr. Barrett completed a residency in general surgery at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, and a second residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. He followed with a fellowship in cardiopulmonary transplantation at Yale University, and also attained a master’s degree in health care management from Harvard University. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Barrett worked in private practice in adult cardiothoracic surgery in Pennsylvania, and, subsequently, in Michigan. It was while he was in Michigan that Yale recruited him to return to Connecticut to work in the CT SICU.
For these past four years, Dr. Barrett has cared for patients in the department of surgery, and taught others how to do the same. He teaches cardiothoracic surgical procedures to residents and medical students, and specializes in thoracic oncology, lung cancer, esophageal surgery, left ventricular assist devices, and surgery for the failing ventricle. Dr. Barrett is responsible for the organization, implementation, and supervision of preoperative and postoperative care in the CT SICU, which is one of the busiest cardiothoracic surgery units in the country.
Dr. Barrett is enthusiastic about what he is doing. “I like taking care of heart patients and being by their bedside,” he said. “I also enjoy teaching. There is no substitute for experience, and I want to pass that on to others.”
He lauds the education he received at St. George’s as the right stepping-stone to his future. “I’m proud I attended the University. It’s truly an international university, with all those people coming together, from Eastern Europe and the States and Africa,” said Dr. Barrett. “Let’s face it, medical school is a rigorous ordeal. And at other schools, learning about other cultures and other lands is not something you are normally exposed to. It’s wonderful.”
Thirty Years of Growth
When Dr. Barrett began studying at St. George’s, it was a small, independent school of medicine. In the intervening years, the institution has grown to a full university, adding schools of veterinary medicine, and the arts and sciences, as well as offering advanced degrees in allied health sciences and public health. Like Dr. Barrett and his medical colleagues, newer graduates are excelling at qualifying examinations, with scores that surpass those from US schools. They enhance health care wherever they practice, Dr. Barrett recognizes. “The university has produced wonderful physicians and embraced the world’s communities, providing opportunity and scholarships,” he said. “They’ve done great things.”
The physical footprint of St. George’s has grown correspondingly, into a two-level university-city of 42 acres, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The university has forged alliances and affiliations with over 70 top clinical teaching centers and universities across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Its enduring commitment to academic excellence and student success, and its innovative approach to education is hailed by scholars and scientists, and embodied in its rallying cry: “Think Beyond.”
Fifty-Five Hundred Grads Practicing…Everywhere
Like Dr. Barrett, who now guides students at one of the top universities in the United States, graduates from St. George’s University School of Medicine are remaking the face of medicine across the world, excelling in their respective fields, and practicing with commitment and expertise. For more information on how to join them, visit www.sgu.edu.
Published on 04/28/2006