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School of Medicine Student Spotlights

Alexandra Spirou, SMU Medical School Student
Alexandra Spirou
Windsor, Ontario (Canada)
School of Medicine

I am excited to be finishing my basic science curriculum in Grand Cayman and am very grateful to have received the Jha Family Scholarship. I grew up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and have had numerous opportunities throughout my time in Windsor and Grand Cayman to take on many leadership roles. My strong work ethic, passion for medicine, and the curiosity and tenacity to challenge what I know has helped me grow as a person and hone my leadership skills. For as long as I can remember I have been a hard-working student and have always been eager to achieve my goals and dreams.

When I was in high school I volunteered at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital in their renal dialysis unit, cardiac care unit and outpatient care. While I was studying biological sciences at Wayne State University I had the chance to work as a student research assistant in the biochemistry department of Wayne State’s medical school. I also had the chance to be the female lead in a student film at Wayne State University and choreographed several productions at a local theater company.

Since I’ve been at St. Matthew’s University, I’ve explored many avenues to take on leadership roles as well as help my fellow students. I have been a member of SMU’s student government association (SGA) and have acted as a term 1 representative (Fall 2015), director of athletics (Winter 2016), secretary (Summer 2016), and SGA president (Fall 2016). I’ve also been chosen to participate in St. Matthew’s University’s “Research Day”. My research project was about novel treatments for type II diabetes mellitus and whether their side effects are worth the risks.

Since my second semester I’ve been a teaching assistant for Developmental and Gross Anatomy and Histology and Cell Biology. I’ve loved working with other students and helping them to have a better understanding of the vast amount of material they have to learn. I also participated in a Cayman Islands Health Fair, where I took blood pressures of local people to help them assess their risk of heart disease.

I’m so thankful for all the wonderful opportunities I’ve had at St. Matthew’s to learn, lead and grow as a student and as a person. Truly I believe I have the power to make a difference as a future physician, as do all students studying at St. Matthew’s University, and I will endeavor to continue to make a difference in the lives of others.

Stuart Campbell
School of Medicine

My name is Stuart Campbell and I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I received my Bachelor of Science with a major in biology from the University of Alberta. I also received my Masters in Science from the University of Alberta’s department of oncology. I am currently a teacher’s assistant, class representative, and part of the Student Government Council at St. Matthew’s University.

School and studying take up most of my time here in Grand Cayman, but when I do have free time there is never a shortage of options and activities on the island. Scuba diving, snorkeling, and hanging out at the beach are among my favorite things to do when not studying. I lived in the residence suites during the first semester, but now live off campus and ride my bicycle to school.

Scott Zenoni
Indialantic, Florida
School of Medicine

“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.

Geary Smith
Morehead City, North Carolina
School of Medicine

“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)

Jessica Katherine Summerfield
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
School of Medicine

“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.