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Heather Johnson and Colin Jenkins
St. Matthew's AVMA Student Delegates

SMU 4th year students Heather Johnson and Colin Jenkins came independently to SMU (he from Texas, she from Canada) and sat next to each other in class every semester. As their knowledge of medicine grew, so did their affection for each other, flash forward to today and they are gearing up for the 2021 couples match.

As a graduate of University of Texas at Austin, Colin was working in a pediatric office in Austin with a physician who was an alumnus of SMU. She recommended St. Matthew’s to him and as he shares,“I had never been to the Caymans before but I took a leap of faith and applied. I’m really glad I did because it's turned out well so far!”

Originally from Canada, Heather moved to the states when she was young and traveled abroad after graduating from McGill University. SMU was well known in her house. Her mother was a professor at the school and her parents lived on Grand Cayman. Says Heather, “hands down the best part of the educational environment at SMU are the small class sizes. Some of these professors were the best that I ever had. They were so generous with their time outside of class and that made such a difference in my grasp of the material.”

Heather and Colin both helped those behind them, serving as teaching assistants in two to three classes a semester during their basic sciences. This strengthened their own learning as well, and contributed toward their outstanding performances on the USMLE Step exams.

After core rotations, Heather credits SMU with enabling her to do elective rotations at both Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, both incredible educational experiences.

Heather and Colin are approaching the upcoming match with excitement and great hope. She hopes for an Internal Medicine residency and he hopes for a Pediatrics residency.

How to Choose Among Caribbean Medical Schools

Most U.S. and Canadian students would like to go to medical school in their home country. But due to very low medical school acceptance rates, many are unable to attend medical school at home. In 2018 -2019, for example, 52,777 applicants vied for only 21,622 seats in U.S. medical schools. In Canada, 13,929 prospective medical students competed for only 2,951 available seats.

Caribbean medical schools are the most popular alternate path to becoming an M.D. in the United States and Canada. There are more than 50 medical schools in the Caribbean – of widely varying quality. How should an interested pre-medical student choose among all these Caribbean medical schools?

External Recognition of Quality – Accreditation and Licensing

It is essential for prospective students to select a Caribbean medical school that will allow them to become licensed to practice medicine in North America. Unless a school is appropriately accredited, graduates of the school can be precluded from medical licensure in the U.S. and/or Canada. At both the federal and state/provincial level, licensing authorities in North America have become increasingly stringent in their assessment of foreign medical schools and their graduates. It is critical that the school you choose is appropriately accredited and recognized.

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certifies which students from foreign schools may take the United States Medical Licensing Exams. Students must take and pass these exams in order to practice medicine in the United States. Beginning in 2024, ECFMG certification is only available to students from schools that are accredited by an accrediting agency that is officially recognized by the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME). Currently, there are only three accrediting agencies working in the Caribbean that are recognized by WFME:

  1. Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine (ACCM)
  2. Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO)
  3. Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Health Professionals (CAAM-HP)

Likewise, the U.S. National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA) assesses which foreign countries and their accreditors use standards that are comparable to the standards used to accredit medical schools in the United States. This means that the curriculum, faculty, resources and the schools themselves are held to comparable standards to U.S. medical schools.

Some states in the U.S. independently review the quality of foreign medical schools, and these reviews can affect the ability of foreign medical students/graduates to participate in clinical rotations and/or practice medicine in that state. New York and Florida are the two key states independently approving foreign medical schools. Students from unapproved schools cannot participate in clinical rotations in Florida. In New York, students from unapproved schools cannot earn a residency in the state and can only participate in limited clinical rotations.

It would be unwise and potentially career-limiting to attend a Caribbean medical school whose accreditation is not fully recognized by WFME, NCFMEA, New York and Florida. Currently there are only seven Caribbean medical schools recognized by all of these organizations:

  1. American University of Antigua
  2. American University of the Caribbean
  3. Medical University of the Americas
  4. Ross University
  5. Saba University
  6. St. George’s University
  7. St. Matthew’s University
External Recognition of Quality -- United States Federal Loan Programs

In order for students from Caribbean medical schools to receive U.S. federal loans, the United States Department of Education must assess and approve the quality of the school. The criteria used by the Department of Education include:

  1. Accreditation recognized by NCFMEA
  2. USMLE pass rates of students and graduates
  3. Quality of clinical rotations

Currently, there are only seven Caribbean medical schools that are approved by the Department of Education for participation in the U.S. federal loan programs:

  1. American University of Antigua
  2. American University of the Caribbean
  3. Medical University of the Americas
  4. Ross University
  5. Saba University
  6. St. George’s University
  7. St. Matthew’s University

These are the same seven Caribbean medical schools whose accreditations are recognized by both WFME and NCFMEA, and which are approved by the licensing authorities of both New York and Florida. Among the many Caribbean medical schools, these seven schools stand out as having the external recognition necessary for their students and graduates to practice medicine in the United States and to obtain access to U.S. federal loans. As such, students reviewing Caribbean medical schools should consider limiting their evaluation to these seven schools.

Choosing Among the Caribbean Medical Schools with Sufficient External Recognition of Quality

How should a prospective student choose among the seven Caribbean medical schools that meet the necessary external standards for quality?

These schools vary widely in size and the attendant level of personal attention afforded to students, so students should look for a school that will match their personal preference for learning style. Schools such as St. Matthew’s University strictly limit the size of their incoming cohorts, while others have extraordinarily large class sizes. St. George’s University has had incoming cohorts of nearly 1,000 medical students, while class sizes of greater than 500 medical students are not uncommon at Ross University.

The cost of these schools differ greatly, with some charging more than virtually all US medical schools, and others being much more affordable.

Finally, the settings of the schools are very varied. Some Caribbean countries are poor – often with high crime rates – while other Caribbean islands have all the comforts of home.

What follows is a table of information to help you compare the seven schools across some of these dimensions. For reference, it also includes the data for the median U.S. public medical school.

School Location Cost (1) Wealth of Country (2)
American Univ. of Antigua Antigua $211,540 $14,803
American Univ. of Caribbean St. Maarten $228,015 $15,400
Medical Univ. of the Americas Nevis $174,075 n/a (3)
Ross University Barbados $251,385 $16,494
Saba University Saba $186,317 $24,200
St. George's University Grenada $288,705 $10,451
St. Matthew's University Cayman Islands $164,908 $65,472
U.S. Public Medical School (Median) United States $234,932 $60,055

(1) Four year tuition & fees as of 2018-19. Source: American Association of Medical Colleges, individual school websites
(2) GDP per capita. Source: United Nations Statistics Division, CIA World Factbook, Statistics Netherlands
(3) Data unavailable for island of Nevis

St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine’s M.D. Program has been approved for participation in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine’s M.D. Program has been approved by the United States Department of Education for participation in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Programs. Qualified citizens and permanent residents of the United States may be eligible to receive funding through the Federal Direct Loan programs to assist in paying their educational costs. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid ("FAFSA") should be available in time to receive St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine students’ applications in time for the September 2018 semester.

AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference Student Contributor: Tiffany Chisholm
St. Matthew's AVMA Student Delegates

The American Veterinary Medical Association recently hosted their annual Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago. As the SMU vet student delegate for the conference, I found the experience to be one of a kind. Not only did I meet students from all over the world, including the Royal Vet College of London, but I also got to meet specialists, clinic owners and veterinarians from across the USA.

The conference included student dinners, meet-and-greets, break-out sessions, seminars and extra time for a little touring of the city. Two useful things I got out of the experience were (1) the chance to discuss leadership skills, especially handling stress in the workplace, with other veterinary professionals and (2) networking and acquiring two potential externship opportunities for my clinical year.

Even though the temperature reached 1 degree Fahrenheit (with -25 windchill!), I have zero regrets going, and would highly recommend students apply for the experience in the future.

Vet Students and Faculty Support The Blue Iguana Recovery Project Student Contributor: Krystle M. Criscione
Members of the Blue Iguana Recovery Project

SMU Assistant Professor of Veterinary Pathology, Dr. Veronica Boling, and Island Veterinary Services Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Ioana Popescu teamed up for a necropsy opportunity for Dr. Popescu's Blue Iguana Recovery Project. The necropsies were done to help gain some insight on the morbidity and mortality of the Blue Iguana population as it relates to a bacteria that has been identified in contributing to previous deaths in the blue iguana population.

What I gained from this experience was direct insight into conservation medicine research methods and techniques. Both Dr. Popescu and Dr. Boling worked diligently to provide hands on instruction on data collection, tissue and sample processing, as well as enhancing necropsy techniques. I learned how to draw tail blood from an iguana! I also practiced identifying organs, determining sex, estimating age, and recognizing species differentiation (between blue and green iguanas).  I performed three necropsies myself, under the direction of Dr. Boling and Dr. Popescu. Direct interaction with the researchers was my favorite part of the experience. I made great connections and learned about some of the numerous opportunities a degree in Veterinary Medicine offers.  I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to serve the Cayman community and be part of the ongoing research to ensure blue iguanas remain in Grand Cayman!

SMU Students Attend the Family Medicine Education Consortium (FMEC)
SMU Students with the Family Medicine Education Consortium 2017
Back row: Nerosanth Selvarajah and Dr. David R. Salter – Dean of Clinical Sciences. Front row: James Tullis, Ryan Vaisler, Andrea Nalborczyk and Omar Hajar.

Each year St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine awards the John Randall Scholarship to a group of students to help them to attend the annual Family Medicine Education Consortium meeting. This year the meeting was held in Cleveland Ohio (Nov 10th – 12th, 2017). Dr. Randall is a former Dean of Clinical Sciences and Chief Academic Officer of the school. He was a founding member of the FMEC and active in that organization for many years and remains a cherished member of the extended SMU family.

This meeting is an opportunity for students to meet with family physicians (450) and other medical students (250) as well as residents and program directors over a three-day period. There are presentations, seminars and poster sessions in addition to social events. There is a residency fair that gives family medicine programs the opportunity to showcase their programs and recruit future family medicine physicians. The focus of the program is in the northeast region of the US; however, participants were drawn from all of the country. The students attended many sessions and shared their highlights over dinner. [Program: - [ ]

SMU Med Students Volunteer at Cayman Islands Cancer Society Health Fair


SMU Co-Hosts CME Symposium with Cleveland Clinic
(Register Here)
SMU Hosts Symposium with Renowned Surgeon from Johns Hopkins
SMU Hosts Symposium with Renowned Surgeon from Johns Hopkins
SMU Vet School Students and Faculty Donate Pet Rescue Oxygen Masks to the Cayman Islands Fire Service
SMU Vet School Students and Faculty Donate Pet Rescue Oxygen Masks to the Cayman Islands Fire Service
SMU Student Government Association Hosts Ice Cream Social for Students and Faculty
SMU Student Government Association Hosts Ice Cream Social for Students and Faculty
SMU Vet School Students and Faculty Volunteer at Cayman Agriculture Day
SMU Vet School Students and Faculty Volunteer at Cayman Agriculture Day
SMU Co-Hosts Medical Innovation Symposium with Cleveland Clinic
SMU Co-Hosts Medical Innovation Symposium with Cleveland Clinic
Congratulations St. Matthew’s University Graduates!
SMU 2015 med school graduates
SMU 2015 Veterinary Graduates
SMU Co-Hosts Lecture Series with Johns Hopkins
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SMU Hosts Caribbean Palliative Care Conference
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Collaboration with Cleveland Clinic
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Collaboration with Johns Hopkins
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SMU Hosts Cardiac Symposium
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Vet School Faculty Member Named one of Top 15 Marine Vet Professors
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Dr. Samantha Shields of SMU has been named among the top 15 marine veterinary professors by, an online educational resource. The criteria for the ranking included marine vets who are involved in research and/or instruction in a university setting. Also considered were educational level, published academic articles and in-depth research. Dr. Shields is noted for her work with MARVET, a marine veterinary medicine educational program. She is also faculty advisor to SMU's Coral Reef Research Club.
SMU Hosts Cancer Symposium
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Collaboration with Cleveland Clinic
Cayman Islands Named World's Friendliest Country
As reported in Forbes, the Cayman Islands have been named the World's Friendliest Country. Forbes cited the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey of more than 5,000 expatriates living in nearly 100 countries. The Cayman Islands came out on top due to the ease with which one can befriend locals, integrate into the community, and fit into the new culture.

SMU Research Day Poster Competition

Every great discovery or innovation begins with research. Whether it is basic investigation in the sciences, or developing applied solutions to meet the needs of society, research is a central component of SMU's mandate. SMU supports a thriving community of talented research faculty and staff whose ideas, discoveries and innovations seek to advance our community and our society. We encourage students to take part in research, as research is critical for the future of medicine. Our students are encouraged to be well-rounded individuals that excel not only in academia but also in research and extracurricular activities. Future physicians must have the ability to manage their time effectively while demonstrating leadership.

SMU Research Day has provided a unique opportunity for student and faculty to engage in constructive conversations on topics related to medicine.

Congratulations to this year's poster competition winners:

First place: Mona Maghsoodi & Barry Robson
Second place: Chung Trinh & Eli Ipp
Third place: Leonard E. Maroun et al.

The titles are:

  1. Predicting Protein Secondary Structure Using Information Theory - Mona Maghsoodi & Barry Robson
  2. OGTT Curve May Predict Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 progression - Chung Trinh & Eli Ipp
  3. Gamma (Interferon) Activated Sequences (GAS) in Human Chromosome 21 Genes -- Leonard Maroun et al.
Conquering Cancer, A Medical Symposium

St. Matthew's University hosted the Medical Symposium "˜Conquering Cancer II, Let's Fight Cancer Together'.

18 Student volunteers, staff and faculty from SMU provided assistance ranging from Master of Ceremonies to Registration, set-up and ushering alongside Cancer Society staff and Board members.

The symposium was a great success with almost 200 persons in attendance, the majority being medical professionals from the community.

Specialist presentations included:

  1. Dr. Troy Gatcliffe, Baptist Health International -- Robotic Surgery for Gynecologic Malignancies
  2. Dr. Linda Lee, Johns Hopkins -- New Insights on Colon Cancer Prevention
  3. Dr. Abner Landry, ORNOA -- Breast and Colon Cancers, Diagnosis and Staging
  4. Dr. Carlos Suarez, ORNOA -- Update in the Management of Differentiated Thyroid Cancer
  5. Dr. Lynn Feun, University of Miami -- Latest Developments in Melanoma
Faculty Workshop and Joint Student Collaboration - Centre for Excellence in Medical Education
The SMU faculty spent a day in a highly productive workshop organized by the Centre for Excellence in Medical Education. The major topics included Evaluation Policy considerations & Team Based Learning initiatives. Student Representatives shared academic feedback & discussion in joint consultation with the faculty.
Fieldtrip to encourage local doctors
St. Matthews University labs were crowded with more than 20 excited students learning about the human anatomy.

"Before I came here I wanted to be an accountant, but now that I see all the cool things, all the brains and hearts --now I am interested in medicine," one of the students said.

Several of the other students on the fieldtrip also said something similar.

Assistant science teacher, Vicky Hole, said many of her students may not have realised the resources that were available to them, and the tour might just open their eyes.

"We've got a lot of gifted students at John Gray High School and hopefully now that they will aspire to reach for the stars and that we might have some vet and medical students from Cayman in the future."

Cayman 27's Jade Webster has the full story in the video here.

Story Source:Cayman 27

Researchers Examine Diving and Disability in Cayman
A team of spinal cord injury researchers, veterans and paralympic athletes visited Grand Cayman as part of a Johns Hopkins scientific medical study about the effects of SCUBA diving on people with disabilities. Hosted by St Matthew's University and working closely with Red Sail Sports, researchers from the US based medical school and the Cody Unser Foundation helped to raise awareness about the research work and the power of sport in the rehabilitation process and the reintegration and rejuvenation of people living with a disability. There was a public film screening of the movie "Cody: The First Steps", a documentary of the life and times of Cody Unser, who was paralyzed as a result of Transverse Myelitis, a rare spinal cord inflammation . The event drew a very diverse crowd including local families, physiotherapists and medical doctors, Department of Tourism members and SMU faculty and students. Photo & Original Story by Cayman News Service (CNS)
Faculty from Johns Hopkins Share Knowledge and Cutting-Edge Practices with Medical Students and Medical Community

Michael Lim, M.D. and Mary Sheu, M.D., faculty and practitioners for Johns Hopkins School of Medicine held two lecture sessions at St. Matthew's University, School of Medicine. The series was a huge success as both medical students and experienced physicians from the Cayman community learned from their expertise and obtained new practices and knowledge.

Dr. Lim and Dr. Sheu met informally with approximately 75 students and thoroughly discussed student questions ranging from student professionalism and residency advice to medical technicalities. Students' perspectives were impacted by the open forum, particularily linking their current medical school involvement to an increased potential to access more specialized medical fields, as Dr. Lim and Dr. Sheu attested.

Later that evening, St. Matthew's University hosted "An Evening with Johns Hopkins Medicine." Approximately 150 medical professionals and students attended the two lectures on dermatology and lower back pain management by Dr. Sheu and Dr. Lim respectively. The lecturers reviewed case studies that highlighted cutting-edge practices and research.

This lecture series marks the second lecture series co-hosted by SMU and Johns Hopkins Medicine International, and discussions are already taking place for the next lecture.

School of Veterinary Medicine Professor elected VP of AAVN

Dr. Samantha Shields has been elected Vice President of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition (AAVN). She will be attending the upcoming AAVN symposium in Denver in order to formally accept this position. This is a two-year appointment, after which time she will assume the role of President of the AAVN.

Azais Manalich awarded a Pfizer Veterinary Student Scholarship

An American Veterinary Medical Foundation/Pfizer Animal Health Student Scholarship has been awarded to Azais Manalich, a fifth semester student at St. Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has announced the Pfizer Veterinary Student Scholars. Pfizer Animal Health will provide up to $2 million in scholarships, administered in partnership with the Foundation.

The student scholars were selected on the basis of several criteria, including academic excellence, leadership, and potential for contributing to food animal or food safety veterinary medicine. The initiative is meant to demonstrate the two entities' support for veterinary education and encourage more students to be large animal veterinarians.

"This scholarship program is a huge investment in the future of veterinary medicine," said Michael Cathey, AVMF executive director. "Pfizer has recognized the gaps and has set out to proactively and generously help address them."

CHF and SMU Partner to Offer Free Heart Health Fair

St Matthew's University School of Medicine partnered with the Cayman Heart Fund (CHF) to assist in the CHF's 4th Annual Heart Health Fair at the Arts and Recreation Centre at Camana Bay of Grand Cayman. Know Your Numbers was the theme of this fair. The CHF through its Heart Health Fair has been providing free medical screening to the population of the Cayman Islands for the past few years. The aim of this screening is to enhance awareness about heart health and to detect abnormality (if any). More than 30 St. Matthew's medical students took part in this annual screening program. The screening process includes taking relevant medical histories and measurements of height, weight, blood pressure and pulse of the visitors to the Fair.

This screening program includes real time screening of blood glucose, HBA1c and serum cholesterol level. Cayman Heart Fund provides experts' advice to individuals about heart health based on the results of the screening tests. In addition to participating in the heart health tests program, SMU students also supervised two other stations; one of which demonstrated basic CPR techniques with the Human Patient Simulators to all fair visitors. The other station was named "Know Your Kidney" where students described to the visitors the anatomy and functioning of a normal kidney using plastinated cadavers and models provided by the anatomy lab of SMU. Approximately 300 local residents attended this fair for heart health checkups.

St. Matthew's University Hosts International Cardiac Symposium

The 4th Annual Cayman Islands International Cardiac Symposium was organized by the Cayman Heart Fund (CHF) and hosted by St. Matthew's University, School of Medicine. Approximately 200 healthcare professionals, faculty and students attended the symposium that featured enlightening and diverse presentations from international speakers with links to Johns Hopkins, Baptist Health and the American Heart Association.

Topics included: International Cardiology -- Opening Arteries, Closing Holes, Fixing Valves; Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Getting to the Heart of the Matter; and Cardiac Murmurs: Case Reviews from the Cayman Islands.

The International Cardiac Symposium is a part of a week long Heart Smart Week that the CHF organizes every March in the Cayman Islands. St. Matthew's University students and employees play a pivotal role in most events as hosts, facilitators and volunteers.

Cayman27, the Cayman Islands TV network, covered the symposium and more. Follow this link:

St. Matthew's Unites Against Bullying

The students and staff of St. Matthew's University showed their support for anti-bullying by wearing pink in recognition of victims of bullying in society. Bullying, and its significant negative effects, is prevalent in young children while many adults also face challenges from this unfortunate interaction in the Cayman Islands and across the world.

The last Wednesday in February was identified as Anti-Bullying Day in Canada after a younger male student was bullied by other students for wearing a pink shirt on his first day of school. A group of concerned students rallied in support of the student via a pink shirt campaign to stand against bullying. The initial campaign resulted in hundreds of pink-wearing supporters, and the event even attracted U.S. talk show host Ellen DeGeneres's interest and support.

St. Matthew's University students hope this will be a start of a similar campaign in the Cayman Islands, and they hope to have this message spread across the island in order to draw ever more participants next year.

St. Matthew's and Cayman Heart Fund Team Up for Gala Success

The Annual Cayman Heart Fund Red Dress Gala was held in the Governor's Ballroom at the Westin Hotel & Causarina. The event was a huge success for the community-based Cayman Heart Fund drawing over 200 attendees. The dinner ticket sales and silent art auction raised CI$23,000.

The funds raised will be used to purchase AEDs, to continue the popular free District health screenings and to support educational and training programs, such as the Health4Youth program.

St. Matthew's University has a very close relationship with the Cayman Heart Fund and the students eagerly volunteer to support the mission of the organization. St. Matthew's students helped at the event by registering guests, ushering people to their seats and displaying art pieces, while enticing guests to bid generously.

Students Help Raise Funds for Spay and Neuter Programs
Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts (C.A.R.E) in association with St. Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine hosted the second annual Dog Jog. Money raised through the event helps to fund spay and neuter programs on the island. Third semester student, Michelle Palmer, was a representative featured on DayBreak's morning show to help promote the event.
Teddy bear clinic grows more popular

The 4th annual teddy bear clinic was held at the ARC at Camana Bay over the weekend.

St. Matthews University organizes the annual event so that children can stop by and bring their favourite stuffed animals for a physical.  The goal is to help children alleviate their fears about going to the doctor.

This year's event also featured health and nutrition booths to promote healthy living.

The teddy bear clinic went much better than expected and organisers told Cayman 27 crews they saw just over 230 children, not including the parents or the little babies.

Source:Caymanian Compass

Dr. Robson presents at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Barry Robson gave two lectures at the Future of Health Technology Summit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. See The series of Summits goes back many years and was founded by Professor Marvin Minsky, "father of artificial intelligence" and his student Renata Bushko at M.I.T. The conference included various topics for the next 20 years of medicine, but primarily concerned Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology for health care.

Since M.I.T. and the conference attendees include many world leaders in these kinds of emergent health care technologies, and our area of research now involves numerous potentially controversial new ideas and techniques, it was especially pleasing that the lectures were very well received.