St. George’s University welcomed eight medical students from six countries this summer as part of the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA) Medical Research Exchange Program. The students from Catalonia, Italy, Spain, Canada, Romania, and Poland spent four weeks conducting research and gaining clinical experience while immersing themselves in Grenadian culture.
The University’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine helps to facilitate IFMSA’s worldwide campaign that provides for approximately 10,000 medical students to participate in bilateral and equitable student exchanges each year in pursuit of international clinical and research experiences.
“I’ve worked with visiting IFMSA students for over three years providing options here at SGU for students to engage in community based research programs in Grenada,” explained Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, SGU.
“This year we focused on Grenada’s Sports for Health program, a community-based exercise program established to mitigate chronic disease risk factors. We have also been involved in studying alternative medical practices, including herbs, spices, and various plant products that are used for different health purposes on island.”
Among those who participated in the program was Palak Suryavanshi from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. The first year med student has a previous degree in Kinesiology and studied nursing for three years before moving into the medical program.
“Grenada’s use of herbal medication to treat illness seems to be the norm here, more so than the US or Canada,” said Ms. Suryavanshi. “I’m working on an extension of the alternative medicine project previously started at SGU, which explores the use of various plant products for different medical purposes in Grenada and trying to take their work forward by figuring out how to determine the correct dosages and gaining a better understanding of how alternative medicine has been used in the local community.”
Carmen Alvarez Reguera currently in her fifth year of medical school at the University of Santiago de Compostela traveled from Spain to participate in this year’s exchanges. “We don’t have that opportunity to study research at my university so I chose SGU for an opportunity to do so,” said the 21 year-old med student.
“As part of the Sports for Health program, we monitored participants for four weeks and addressed how to avoid risk factors for chronic diseases. This experience benefitted me greatly as I will be able to draw on it once I am back at my university and have to write my end of degree research report.”
At the request of the Ministry of Health, the students also conducted a Knowledge Attitude and Practice (KAP) study on cervical cancer screening as the government considers the use of the HPV vaccine in Grenada.
In addition to the academic side of the trip, SGU IFMSA members ensured that the exchange students also enjoyed an active social life. The students were able to explore Grenada’s famous Grand Anse beach, the Annandale waterfall, experience local cuisine such as the country’s national dish, Oil Down and the always eventful competitive crab racing.
St. George’s University participated in research exchanges as well, sending six medical students to six different countries this year. Among them were Jennifer Virgile, who traveled to Saful Anwar General Hospital in Indonesia to study cough habit patterns among medical workers and Timothy Abels who is currently doing research on immunosuppression due to abdominal post-surgery at Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria in Spain.
By Ray-Donna Peters