An ocean away and in a two-week span, the Spring 2017 class of St. George’s University took their Oath of Professional Commitment, the first step in their journey to becoming physicians, at the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies in the United Kingdom and Grenada.
Students in the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program ushered in the spring term with a ceremony held at Domain Hall on the campus of Northumbria University on January 13. They will spend their first year of Basic Sciences in the UK before joining the Grenada class in Spring 2018.
Delivering a touching keynote address to this year’s entering class was Dr. Gerard Corcoran, recently retired Lead Clinician for Cancer Services at Aintree University Hospitals in the UK. He reflected on the growth of SGU, having arrived in Grenada in 1979 and working one year in the General Hospital and at St. George’s University School of Medicine.
“Back then as a young 28-year-old, many of the students at St. George’s were my age and I was really impressed by all of their varied backgrounds,” Dr. Corcoran said. “Some had previous occupations, others had military experience, some had not studied sciences and others had endured quite a lot of hardship before coming here. But rather than looking at this as a disadvantage and a roadblock to their progress, I actually think that, for the future doctor, this different life experience was an advantage and not only for themselves but for our profession. It has been delightful for me to watch the University flourish over the years, and so in this its 40th year, I hope the Class of 2017 will continue to prosper.”
“Please take an interest in each other and share your experiences,” he added. “While in Grenada try to gain some insight on what it means to provide healthcare in a middle-low resource country. And, never forget that universal access to health care is something that still has not been attained. There is a worldwide shortage of primary care physicians and also health professionals and SGU is to be commended for its efforts in trying to offer up opportunities for people from different countries to train here to become doctors.”
Also present at the ceremony was the Honorable Mr. Nickolas Steele, Minister for Health and Social Security. He welcomed the newly enrolled medical students and congratulated them on their choice of such an admirable profession. The Minister implored the students not only to work hard to acquire their degree but to also take the opportunity to make a difference to Grenada because their time spent in the Spice Isle will surely make a difference to them.
In Grenada, students and their friends and families filled Patrick F. Adams Hall for the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony on January 27. Dr. Bruce Bonanno, MD SGU ’83, a member of the fifth entering class at SGU, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. In addition to his professional career as an emergency medicine physician at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, NJ, Dr. Bonanno has a second career as a media personality. He hosted a 30-minute medical television show and was the Chief Medical Consultant for a New Jersey station for more than 10 years.
As an alum, his involvement with SGU has included interviewing candidates for admission, teaching students and residents, and becoming re-involved with the SGUSOM Alumni Association two years ago when he was elected President. He arrived in Grenada 38 years earlier, and never ceases to be amazed at the development of both the country and his alma mater.
“Although many things have changed since I was a student at SGU, one thing has remained constant and that is you, the students,” said Dr. Bonanno. “We all arrive here with a chip on our shoulder because of those that said we couldn’t do it. But I’m here to show you that you can do it and you will do it.”
“Medicine isn’t just a profession; it is a way of life,” Bonanno said. “Make sure you take care of yourself first and have interests outside of medicine. If you find something that you are as passionate about as you are about medicine, it will not only bring you fulfillment but to all those around you as well.”
The School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony has coincided for the sixth straight term with Beyond Spice Family Weekend at SGU. Students’ family members enjoy a fun-filled weekend of activities, exploring Grenada’s rich cultural heritage and getting a taste of life at SGU before attending the special ceremony, which serves as an affirmation of commitment to their studies and marks the beginning of their medical career.
By Ray-Donna Peters