- Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 21:49
“The first time I was able to scrub in and assist on a surgery was an exciting moment.”
I've been taking care of patients 14 years as part of aeromedical services, which gave me a great foundation to understand disease processes and how the medical field works. I was lucky enough to be able to put a patient into my mind each time a disease process came up. As I entered my 3rd and 4th year, I began to transition through various hospital systems and interact more with patients as a medical student, which is when I found the true benefits of my background as a RN/Paramedic. Specifically, my SMU education has helped me understand many concepts of disease and treatment options that I would not have learned as a RN/Paramedic. I have enjoyed putting the two together in the past two years as it has made me a better caregiver.
I have seen some very unfortunate accidents over the years. There is nothing worse than watching someone die of a tragic accident-- whether it's a motor vehicle crash or any other type of unintended injury situation, it's really sad. On the better side of memories, there is no better feeling than making a difference in someone’s life. Watching them walk out of the hospital with their family or having family members approach me to thank me for saving their child are great moments.
One of my most exciting moments during my clinical rotations was during surgery. The first time I was able to scrub in and assist on a surgery was an exciting moment. I felt like a fish out of water because none of my past medical experiences prepared me for the OR. I was never exposed to that area of health care so it was all new and exciting. However, I quickly learned the ways of the OR and had an outstanding attending that did a great job teaching me about general surgery and providing me with some of the greatest memories of my medical school career.
As a medical student, you have to take the initiative to get in there and learn it. Be inquisitive. Attending physicians want nothing more than an enthusiastic student who is willing to learn and who won't just stand in the back corner. Stand out by showing interest. Be interested in every rotation you complete--even if you know that you are not going to go into that field.
“I found that SMU, with a curriculum that has been proven true by my preceding colleges and with an outstanding first time pass rate on the USMLE Step 1, was the school that I wanted to pursue.”
"Stand by Medic 1, you have a rescue call reference motorcycle versus SUV." The tones echoed through the halls of the Fire Department; my heart rate and respirations increased; a shot of adrenalin ripped through my body. My partner and I arrived on scene to find crumbled remains of a motorcycle scattered across the road. The victim was ejected approximately fifteen yards from the point of impact and was surprisingly still conscious upon arrival. "My name is Geary. Can you tell me your name?" His only response was agasp of air. His eyes desperately searched for help, for comfort, and assurance, until they met my own. I instructed my partner to maintain C-spine stabilization and I performed a quick trauma survey of all body systems, then stabilized the patient for rapid transport to the hospital.
After, I gave my report to the emergency room physician, and patient care was transferred. At that moment and time I knew that medicine was the only profession which satisfies my intellectual curiosity combined with manual dexterity, and gives me the personal satisfaction of helping others in times of need.
When I first started applying to Caribbean medical schools I was unsure what school to apply to and which school would benefit me the most. I started at another Caribbean medical school that was not SMU. After completing my first semester of classes, I began to look at the future curriculum and started to realize it was not suited for me. I decided to search for a school that would allow me to learn medicine and succeed. I found that SMU, with a curriculum that has been proven true by my preceding colleges and with an outstanding first time pass rate on the USMLE Step 1, was the school that I wanted to pursue. The knowledge I take from the intense basic science curriculum has more than prepared me for both the USMLE and clinical rotations.
My transition to SMU was an easy one. My fellow students and the caring professors and staff aided in my transition. During my time at SMU I have had the privilege to participate in many different activities both in and outside the classroom. I have been an active member of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), where I have taught my fellow students different clinical skills such as endotracheal intubation and intravenous therapy, among other medical procedures. I have participated in Continuing Medical Education lectures hosted by Johns Hopkins Medicine International on topics such as Rheumatology, Neuro-Oncology, and Laparoscopic Surgery. I have also been involved with the Cayman Heart Foundation and Cayman Cancer Society. Throughout the semesters I have volunteered my time to work in free medical health screening clinics hosted by Baptist Health Hospital of Miami, Florida, and with the Cayman Cancer Society to help better serve the people of the Cayman Islands. In regards to research, I am currently conducting pharmacological research with Leonard Maroun, Ph.D. trying to predict immunogenicity of secreted viral proteins compared to FDA approved protein to formulate anti-interferon.
In closing, I would like to thank my professors at SMU for giving me the tools I need to learn such an incredible amount of information in such a short time period. No matter how much I know about the human mind and body, it is truly amazing what we are capable of. To all those future physicians reading this remember, “the only limitations you ever have are the ones you place on yourself.” (My Dad)
“Their curriculum appeared to be very comprehensive and I was pleased to see the graduated students’ residency matches.”
I never truly knew I wanted to be a physician until I became a registered nurse. I practiced as a registered nurse for two years in labor and delivery and postpartum care and truly enjoyed every aspect of it. However, I had a strong desire to learn more and increase my scope of practice while maintaining my core education as a nurse. I felt that becoming a physician would satisfy both my desire for knowledge as well as provide the opportunity to affect peoples’ lives on a more diverse scale. As a physician you are given the unique opportunity to engage with people during their most vulnerable and memorable moments in their lives which made it an extremely appealing career choice for me.
With my clinical experience as well, I had the opportunity to witness on a daily basis people overjoyed by the birth of their baby, and the physicians would be endlessly praised by the families. However, we did suffer the death of patient during a routine caesarean section. I will never forget the strength I saw in the physician when he had to tell the family the news and help them cope with the situation. There was certainly no praise that day, but I saw something more inspiring, which was compassion coupled with the knowledge to explain what had occurred. I realized that day what a noble profession medicine was, and I wanted to be a part of it.
I chose St. Matthew’s for a few reasons but mainly for their high pass rate on the USMLE Step One exam. The SMU curriculum appeared to be very comprehensive, and I was pleased to see the graduated students’ residency matches. In addition, I felt that of all the Caribbean Islands to live in, Grand Cayman had a lot to offer as far as accessibility, housing and public services.
I have certainly fulfilled my desire for further education! I have had the opportunity to be taught by some amazing professors who are completely dedicated to our success. I am always impressed by their availability (even on weekends) and their desire to help us through this difficult process. It truly feels like a family which is so important since most of us are so far away from home.
This program is very intense and demands your utmost dedication to succeed. Because of this, I think we neglect to pause and appreciate the partnerships and relationships that we’ve made along the way with both the students and the faculty. I have met some amazing people who have made this a wonderful experience for me.
During my time at SMU I have had the opportunity to be involved as a class representative for AMSA (American Medical Student’s Association), where we are able to practice several clinical skills such as intubation, phlebotomy, lumbar punctures, suturing etc. outside of class time. With this organization we also run a Teddy Bear Clinic for the community, where we invite the local children to bring their stuffed toys in for “assessments”. This process is designed to help facilitate the doctor/child relationship and to help make the children more comfortable in going to see their physician.
In addition to this organization I was also able to participate in the school’s first Clinicopathologic Conference as a member of the CEME (Center of Excellence in Medical Education). In this conference the students were presented with a case study that we then had to analyze and present our differential diagnoses to a panel of experts. This was an excellent learning experience and I was pleased that my group won for best presentation! In addition to this task the CEME is dedicated to improving the learning experience at SMU. Every semester the students of this group and the faculty sit down to discuss various ways to enhance our learning. From this group many changes have been implemented, including student-driven on-line study forums, video recorded lectures that can be viewed from our homes, and methods of quizzing the students in class using new technology.
While some people travel the world to find themselves, others are fortunate enough to discover their passions close to home.
Houston, TX native Gunit Kaur knew she wanted to practice medicine after caring for her mother who was a patient with the chronic auto-immune disease Lupus. As she is so close to her father and her sister, the decision to pursue her medical studies in another country was a big decision indeed. Even so, the appeal of St. Matthew's was such that, after looking at a few other schools, she decided to come here.
Though she flies back to Houston at the end of every semester (there are direct flights from Grand Cayman to Houston) to stay in touch with her family and get a few home cooked meals, Gunit says that she feels at home at St. Matthew's as well. In addition to finding many "close friends", Gunit says she "has made her own family here."
After graduation, Gunit plans to go to New York to practice neonatology - a subspecialty of pediatrics that involves the care of newborn infants - so that she can "have an impact early in the lives of people." Though this goal will require a three-year fellowship in addition to her four years at medical school and three years of pediatric internship and residency, dedication and hard work are the hallmarks of Gunit's commitment to medicine.
As a member and past president of the Student Government Association (SGA), Gunit has dedicated herself to helping others, organizing fundraising and volunteer efforts of the SGA all while being an esteemed member of the Honor Society. She is also a peer counselor or mentor to new St. Matthew's University students.
Despite all the work that she does and all that lies ahead for her, Gunit does make time to pursue another passion - movies. Her collection of DVDs (especially movies from India) is renowned. She was surprised that she could find them on the Cayman Islands and has shared her love of these movies with her friends.
St. Matthew's University School of Medicine recently awarded Gunit the Academic Scholarship for her excellent academic performance.
The decision to pursue medicine when you have already established yourself as a successful professional can be difficult. Though leaving New York and a promising career in pharmaceutical marketing and hospital administration behind to pursue medicine is difficult, for Elena Skomorovsky, the draw to medicine was very strong.
Though her interest in medicine had been "on the back burner for some time", the pediatrician's daughter says, "it started to bubble, then boil into a passion." As a result, Elena decided to leaver her lucrative career behind and pursue medicine.
"St. Matthew's had a nice mix of students from different ethnic, educational and professional backgrounds," she says when asked why she chose to come here, "and offered me academically what I was looking for pursue for my ultimate goal." And while no place is like New York, Elena says that the Cayman Islands, "reminded me...of the United States with the added benefit of a beach in my back yard."
As a former member of the National Russian Junior Tennis Team, Elena knows about passion and dedication. So it is no surprise that she has been able to apply those traits to her studies at St. Matthew's.
"Medicine is about discipline and the passion to continuously learn," Elena says. "It's important to hold yourself responsible for the material learnt."
Since coming to St. Matthew's, Elena's medical passions have so taken over that, when she was asked by the Cayman Islands to represent them in tennis at an Island Olympic Games, she declined, knowing that her focus must be on lobbying answers instead of tennis balls.
Having left New York and tennis behind (at least for the time being), Elena's success is now defined by how well she performs on the board examinations and future clinical rotations. She plans to pursue a career as a Nephrologist and to specialize in kidney diseases, kidney transplantation, and dialysis therapy.
Nek Nazary has been a resident of the Cayman Islands for seven years. When he left his home in Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban, Nek had originally planned to seek refuge in Canada. As Nek had long wanted to pursue medicine and as he had attended college in the Cayman Islands (graduating as Valedictorian of his class), when he learned that St. Matthew's Medical School had moved here from Belize, he decided to apply. After being accepted to other programs in the Caribbean and also to three schools in the United Kingdom, Nek spoke with students from St. Matthew's and decided to attend here. One of the main reasons he made this decision is because St. Matthew's gave him the option of doing his clerkship in the U.K. where members of his family live. He can also elect to do his residency in the US., which will give him further international experience and allow him to follow his career choice of Gastroenterology almost any where in the world.
In addition to pursuing his studies, Nek has also helped others pursue their goals while at St. Matthew's. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant, tutor and first aid CPR instructor, Nek has been a Red Cross volunteer for five years. Nek's main passion, however, is art. During his time at St. Matthew's, he has had multiple gallery exhibits on the Cayman Islands of his portraits and landscapes. "I find the beauty of the island above and below the water quite stunning," he says.
When not in school, teaching or painting the beauty of the Caymans, Nek and some of his fellow students swim and run in local marathons. He has developed many friendships from the international student body at St. Matthew's University who share his love of sports.
Now if he could just add the mountains and seasonal weather from his homeland of Afghanistan, his life in paradise would be perfect!
When did you know you wanted to be a pediatrician? For Alexandra Nmashie, the answer was "always."
This Bronx, NY native has been passionate about medicine for as long as she can remember. Her parents, both from Ghana in West Africa, have heard Alexandra "...talk about medicine my whole life" and have been very supportive of Alexandra's decision to be the first in her family to pursue a graduate degree.
As the youngest of five children and the only girl in the family, Alexandra knows her parents are very proud of her.
After garnering her undergraduate degree in biology, Alexandra worked at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York conducting research on HIV/AIDS and post-stroke spasticity. It was there that she met the St. Matthew's University students who, along with the physicians at the hospital, encouraged her to apply to St. Matthew's University. Though she also applied to other schools, the location and quality of education at St. Matthew's "sealed the deal" for Alexandra. Though it has taken some time to adjust to living in a country "where everything closes on Sunday," Alexandra says that she misses her family sometimes but "doesn't really miss the winters in New York."
While at school, Alexandra and her friends enjoy the great climate in the Caymans, taking advantage of their accommodations in the West Bay area and miles of beautiful beaches. She has also enjoyed opportunities to contribute to her fellow students as a peer counselor.
After returning to the U.S. for a fifth semester, Alexandra will enroll in a two-year clerkship, after which she hopes to return to Mt. Sinai, where she plans to encourage others to attend St. Matthew's