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INSPIRE A NEW GENERATION OF DOCTORS Be AVolunteer

Pierre M. Jean Charles, M.D. (’04) Family Medicine Resident, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY

B

eing a part of the Alumni Contact

Network, you will play a vital role

in helping to recruit and assist aspiring doctors by contacting prospective, admitted and current students to share your experience at AUC and your knowledge of the medical field. Hearing your perspective as an AUC graduate and accomplished medical doctor helps encourage potential AUC students and motivate current students to succeed. Alumni volunteers assist prospective and current AUC students by addressing general questions or concerns and offering their unique

experience at AUC through conversations by phone or e-mail.

Office of Alumni Relations 305-446-0600, ext. 1032 alumni@aucmed.edu www.aucmed.edu/alumni/ volunteer-programs.html

To find out more, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 305-446-0600 ext. 1032 or alumni@aucmed.edu


SUMMER/FALL 2008, NUMBER 6

6Profiles 4 Campus 12 Publications 14 Honors Photo by Geoffrey R. Pankhurst

16Special Section

Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by Acute Vision

34 Island News 30 Class Notes 36 Traces Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by David MacGillivray


First Words T

ime really flies! This year the American University of the Caribbean celebrates

its 30th birthday and AUC Connections — which started only two years ago —

commemorates its sixth publication. With every edition we aim to showcase the wonderful strides our school and its graduates are making in the world of medicine. We are always astounded at what we learn every time, and that’s especially true in the research and preparation for this edition. We were truly amazed at the number of responses received when we first contacted alumni for this story. There were so many anecdotes, stories and interesting tidbits making it quite a challenge to include

everything. That’s why the editorial board chose to focus on the two islands  it was simply impossible to list everything that happened in the last 30 years! One of my favorite parts in producing this magazine was speaking with alumni about their experiences on Montserrat.

The enthusiasm and attention to detail was surprising. At times I found myself imagining what it would be like to look out over Plymouth and watch the ships sail into port or running down to the store after a 9 o’clock class to make sure I didn’t miss freshly baked sweet bread. Those times may be gone, but they are not forgotten. They live in the hearts of everyone who traveled to Montserrat to

realize their dream of becoming a doctor  and making some good friends along the way seemed to be a wonderful bonus. Also profiled in this edition are stories of recent graduates completing residencies and fellowships in competitive fields, namely ophthalmology and hand surgery, as well as one young physician who is the first official phlebology fellow in the country. So to all of you graduates who have helped shape AUC and whose careers and continued successes make your alma mater proud, we thank you, and invite you to celebrate AUC’s 30 years of excellence in medical education. Sincerely,

D.F. Jones Director of Alumni Relations


D.F. Jones Editor

Paula Distefano Copy Editor

Gabrielle Dorsey Contributing Writers

Maria Arroyave Cathy Buffonge Ashley St. Pierre Graphic Designer

Marta A. Oppenheimer Contributing Photographers

Kathryn Behrisch Robert Holmes Jason Jones Geoffrey R. Pankhurst Monserrat Tourist Board Editorial Office

AUC Connections Office of Alumni Relations Medical Education Administrative Services 901 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Ste. 700 Coral Gables, FL 33134 Phone 305.446.0600, ext. 1032 Fax 786.433.0974 E-mail aucconnections@aucmed.edu Web www.aucmed.edu/aucconnections AUC Board of Directors

John Byrnes, M.D. Robert Chertok, Ph.D. The Rev’d Jeffrey L. Hamblin, M.D. (’92) Ronald Harden, O.B.E. Carol Holden, Ph.D. Richard Kitch, J.D. Frank Marsh, F.R.C.P. Robert Sokol, M.D. Alumni Association Executive Board

Faith Dillard, M.D. (’01) President Tarik Haddad, M.D. (’99) Vice President Rizwana Fareeduddin, M.D. (’01) Secretary Ronald Schneider, M.D. (’02) Treasurer Please send all questions, comments and suggestions to the address or e-mail listed above. AUC Connections editors reserve the right to edit all print submissions for length and clarity, and assume no responsibility for unsolicited submissions. Reproduction for publication without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed are those of the editorial staff or contributing writers and do not necessarily represent the official positions of Medical Education Administrative Services, American University of the Caribbean or the AUC Alumni Association. AUC Connections is printed by Color Express at 7990 West 25th Court, Hialeah, FL 33016. If your address or contact information has changed since you last updated it with AUC, please submit your new information to the address above or online at: aucmed.edu/alumni/update-form.html.

Please send your comments and suggestions to aucconnections@aucmed.edu.

Director of Alumni Relations

Letters to the Editor

SUMMER/FALL 2008 NUMBER 6

“I really enjoyed your last issue. I can’t thank AUC enough. Keep it up.” — Ahmad Hakemi, M.D. (’82)

“I would like to congratulate you for producing the fifth edition of AUC Connections. I thought it was wonderful and most interesting. So much so that I think a copy should be sent to every student on St. Maarten, as it will demonstrate the breadth of possibilities before them and encourage them.” — Douglas Model, M.D.

“I greatly enjoyed reading and showing off the recent AUC Connections to my family and friends!” — Neetika Khosla Wu, M.D. (‘01)

“It’s great to look at and to read. I love it!” — Nino A. Vidic, M.D. (’96)

“I am a 2003 AUC grad and had the chance to go back to the island this past March for the first time since graduation. The school looks great! I also had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Atchley and some of the new faculty — it’s good to see the school doing so well. I am continually impressed with AUC Connections, it’s a great way of staying connected to the school and the alumni — really a fantastic job!” — Paul Nanda, M.D. (’03)

Correction: We erroneously spelled Dr. Steven M. Brown’s first name as Stephen in “The Right Combination” (AUC Connections, edition 5).


Campus Faculty News Welcome to outstanding professors arriving on campus.

P

enelope Ann Hansen, Ph.D. is back on campus to teach physiology during her second appointment as a visiting professor at AUC. She has previously held visiting professorships at several prestigious universities in the United States and abroad, such as Brown, Dalhousie and Wayne State Universities, as well as the Universities of Western Ontario and Calgary. Hansen earned a Ph.D. in physiology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, in Canada, in 1979. She also holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Akron, Ohio. She is currently co-leader of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine Medical Education Leadership Team, which leads and coordinates renewal of the M.D. program and the LCME accreditation process. Hansen has won numerous teaching awards and honors, including the American Physiological Society’s Arthur G. Guyton Educator of the Year award in 2008, which recognizes excellence in classroom teaching and contributions to physiology education at a national or international level. A prolific lecturer and published author, Hansen is an asset to any educational institution, and AUC is honored to welcome her back.

Q&A with Penelope Hansen: AUC: What are your goals for this term? PH: This is my second visit to AUC, and I’m teaching endocrine and reproductive physiology. My goal for this visit is to find out what my students have already learned in their histology course, and what they will be learning in their pathology and ICM courses that relates to endocrine and reproductive physiology. By doing this, I will be better able to help them integrate information from the other courses with what I am teaching.

Sanath Sadananda, M.D, D.M., M.B.B.S. joined the faculty in May as new professor of pharmacology. A member of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, Sadananda earned a medical degree at Kasturba Medical College, in Manipal, India, and a post-doctorate in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics from Mumbai University. Sadananda’s teaching experience includes an assistant professorship at the department of pharmacology at the Asian Institute of Medicine Science and Technology, in Malaysia.

Professor Wedding wins prestigious award Danny Wedding, Ph.D., MPH — AUC professor of behavioral medicine — was awarded the 2008 Ernest R. Hilgard Award. Given out by the Society for General Psychology (Division 1), the award recognizes outstanding lifetime contributions to general psychology across specialty areas. Wedding, who has been a visiting professor at AUC since 2005, is a tenured professor of psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine where he serves as director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, a Danny Wedding, Ph.D., MPH research and policy center serving the mental health community in Missouri. He has taught at East Tennessee State, Marshall and Vanderbilt, and many medical schools use his text, “Behavior and Medicine.” He holds graduate degrees in public health and English literature, and completed his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1979 at the University of Hawaii. He is currently the editor of APA’s PsycCRITIQUES. Wedding will be offering the Hilgard Lecture in Toronto, in August 2009. As part of his award, he was invited to submit an essay to The General Psychologist, the Division’s magazine.

Penelope Hansen, Ph.D

AUC: What do you like most about teaching at AUC?

Deans reverse roles: Schnatz and Kaplan

PH: I especially enjoy teaching at AUC because I find that the students here are very responsive, hard-working, professional and friendly. The academic culture values teaching and learning very highly, and my interaction with my colleagues has been stimulating and completely satisfying. They have made me feel entirely welcome. The climate and beaches and good food on this island are the icing on the cake, and provide a wonderful contrast to the weather in Newfoundland.

For many years, AUC has maintained an academic administrative presence out of Providence Hospital, in Michigan. As of July 2008, Paul Schnatz, M.D., and Bruce Kaplan, D.O., exchanged roles at AUC. Kaplan has assumed academic leadership with the position of Chief Academic

4 AUC CONNECTIONS

Paul Schnatz, M.D.


Officer while Schnatz oversees the clinical component of the medical education program within the United States. Schnatz had been AUC’s CAO since being appointed in 2001. He started at AUC in 1990, teaching clinical medical sciences. In 1997, he was appointed associate professor of OB/GYN. Schnatz earned his M.D. at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in 1961 and his undergraduate degree in biology at Princeton. After an internship year at the University Hospital in Seattle, he completed his residency in OB/GYN at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1966, followed by a fellowship in endocrinology at the Buffalo General Hospital. In 1991, he moved to Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., where he continues to serve as director of reproductive endocrinology. In 1994, he was appointed associate program director for the OB/GYN residency at Providence and in 1995 became program director. Kaplan was awarded his D.O. degree in 1975 from the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Des Moines, Iowa. He completed his internal medicine residency at Detroit Osteopathic Hospital, and fellowship in rheumatology and clinical immunology at the Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University School of Medicine. Kaplan is clinical associate professor of medicine at both Wayne State and Michigan State University School of Osteopathic Medicine. He has worked with AUC students since 1982, when he was appointed chair of rheumatology at Providence Hospital and became involved with coordinating all Providence student rotations. He then assumed the position of executive director of their non-profit education corporation. Since 1995, Kaplan has acted as student coordinator for AUC clinical clerkships, and in 1998, was appointed clinical dean at AUC. In 1996 he was appointed director of the transitional residency program and in 2000 was appointed director of osteopathic medical education at Providence Hospital and Medical Centers. Currently, he still fills these positions and has been elected president of the medical staff.

Salafsky retires Bernard Salafsky, Ph.D. retired as basic medical sciences dean after three years with AUC. Salafsky received his doctorate in pharmacology at the University of Washington, Seattle. Prior to coming to AUC, he served as dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford for 22 years. He has held previous academic appointments at the Universities of Washington, Pennsylvania and Bristol, in addition to several years of service with the World Health Organization, primarily in Asia. AUC would like to thank Dr. Salafsky for his many important contributions during his tenure including the inception of the new curriculum,

substantial expansion of the faculty body, the integration of AUC into the public health affairs of the island and the representation of AUC at many international health meetings. We wish him the best in future endeavors. Hiroko Yoshida, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular and cell biology, and associate dean of academic affairs, has assumed the position of interim dean.

Dean’s List In recognition of high academic achievement through the basic medical sciences portion of the curriculum, the American University of the Caribbean acknowledges students who have excelled at the end of each semester. To qualify for the Dean’s List, students must carry a credit load of at least 15 credits and have earned a semester cumulative average grade of at least 87. q

Congratulations to the students who have made the January/April 2008 Dean’s List (listed in alphabetical order): 1 Mackenzie Bear

23 Anil Jagtiani

45 Montu Parekh

2 Kelli Boelens

24 Jessica Jarreau

46 Kelly Parks

3 Judson Boisvert

25 Susan Jarvis

47 Shaylee Peckens

4 Amir Boutros

26 Michael Johnson

48 Laura Pickett

5 Cheryl-Lynn Bugailiskis

27 Ryan Karasek

49 Russell Pierce

28 Samara Khalique

50 Husein Poonawala

6 Amy Canada

29 Mustafa Khan

51 Lauren Portnow

7 Paul Charpentier

30 Patrick Laing

52 Jared Radbel

8 Salil Chitnis

31 Mei Wai Lam

9 Aalok Dave

32 Gregory LaSala

53 Zhobin (Ruben) Ram

10 Tara DiMarco

33 Scott Legunn

54 Preethi Ratakonda

11 Andrew Doherty

34 Quynh Mai

55 Sheryl Rough

12 Notie Erhahon

35 Andrew Marshall

56 Heather Shacket

13 Randy Gelow II

36 Shean Mcknight

57 Kevin Shaw

37 Ricky Mehta 15 Matthew Goodwin 38 Yukiko Miura 16 Garland Gudger 39 Alexander Morf

58 Lee Silkman

14 Brian Goodman

17 Johanna Hall

59 Jonathan Staidle 60 Dhaval Thakkar

40 Nicholas Morris

61 Nathan Timmer

18 Frank Heinselman

41 Takunda Mugwisi

62 Samir Turakhia

19 Jennifer Holden

63 Laura Wake

20 Sarah Huffman

42 Ann Aurelie Ngo Tedga

21 Ann Hughes

43 Kimberly Norris

65 Jamie Warner

22 Felicia Humphrey

44 Kristin Oates

66 Boris Yaguda

64 Peter Wang

AUC CONNECTIONS 5


Profiles Racing Ahead By Maria Arroyave

A

fter earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Richard Stockton College in New Jersey in 1998, Allan J. (“A.J.”) Bogdan, M.D. (’04), faced an interesting crossroads — continue on with medical school or race for a semi-professional NASCAR team. Bogdan’s grandfather and mentor was an independent racecar driver and influenced him greatly. “I always wanted to be a doctor, but I was passionate about racing cars,” said Bogdan, who put his academic pursuits on hold for a year to get a taste of the racing circuit. The reality didn’t match up with his boyhood expectations. “I went to Daytona with a team and saw all the money that was spent on racing,” Bogdan said. “Racing is a very selfish endeavor and that made me realize that there was more to life." So after one year of “soul searching,” working as a tow-truck driver and mechanic and racing semi-pro, Bogdan decided to go to medical school. “You can always race cars, but you cannot always be a doctor,” he said. Bogdan applied to several U.S. schools only to gain a spot on several waiting lists. Then, after attending an AUC open house meeting in New York and speaking to several graduates, Bogdan decided to attend medical school at a university he knew little about on an island he had never been to. “It sounded like a good school,” he said. “It sounded like something adventurous and something that interested me. I did not want to wait another year to apply for a U.S. school."

Photo by Geoffrey R. Pankhurst

Bogdan began his studies at AUC in 1999, and began one of the most invigorating chapters of his professional career. “I made a conscious decision that I was not going to fail,” he said. “I studied 12 or more hours a day, seven days a week. Although Bogdan began his medical studies at AUC with the intention of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon, in his third year he was exposed to a week of ophthalmology studies that transformed his life. “When I saw the eye surgeries, they were very delicate and complicated and it attracted me and interested me in a way that had never been piqued before,” he said. Stephen Beatty, MMSc, a vitreoretina surgeon in Waterford, Ireland, helped Bogdan make his switch to ophthalmology complete. Bogdan worked with Beatty as part of his clinical rotation. “A lot of times you get interested in a specialty because of a teacher,” Bogdan said. “If it was not for Beatty, I may not have embraced ophthalmology.” Together, Bogdan and Beatty wrote two scientific papers, which later would improve Bogdan’s chances of getting an ophthalmology residency. The time that Bogdan spent in Ireland coupled with the research conducted while he was there earned him a recommendation from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, where he spent two months during his final year of medical school. He began applying to ophthalmology residency programs before his graduation in 2004. “Everyone said I had no shot as a foreign medical grad and it was very intimidating, but I was passionate about getting into ophthalmology and I couldn’t imagine not doing it,” he said. Ophthalmology is one of the most competitive and difficult specialties to break into as an American graduate. To improve the odds, Bogdan performed a pre-residency fellowship in ocular pathology at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. During his

Dr. A.J. Bodgan enjoys the sun on the St. Maarten campus.

6 AUC CONNECTIONS


one-year tenure there, Bogdan continued to send out applications to other schools, often calling universities and forcing them to pull his application out of the garbage.

Bogdan said he is excited about eventually relocating and spending more time with his family in his home state of New Jersey. A bachelor, he said he also wants to get married and start his own family.

“I had mentors at Iowa who said, ‘You are a unique candidate, you are a foreign grad and some people will throw your application away. But some places are going to really consider you. You are never going to make everyone happy, and you can’t worry about those that you don’t.’ ”

Based on all of the obstacles he has overcome and the various directions his life has taken him. Bogdan seems up for any challenge no matter what curveball life throws at him.

One such mentor was Stan Thompson, M.D., professor emeritus of neuro-ophthalmology at the University of Iowa. Bogdan frequently joined Thompson at his home to discuss 19th century literature on ophthalmology, and Thompson said he instantly recognized him as lively and extremely motivated. “It’s quite possible that he would not be as motivated as he is if he would have gone the usual path. It made him more likely to put hard work and quick learning into whichever road he went,” Thompson said. Bogdan completed an internship in internal medicine at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., where he was named, Intern of the Year for 2005-2006. All of his diligence paid off. In 2006 he was offered an ophthalmology residency position at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, which he will complete next year. Bogdan, 32, said he hopes to either do a fellowship or enter private practice. He also looks forward to doing foreign medical missions, helping those who do not have access to top medical care.

Photo by Geoffrey R. Pankhurst

“There are people that might not think highly of your background, but U.S. grads don’t have to deal with hurricanes, the challenges of living outside their country or the challenges of living on an island. I think AUC graduates are much stronger and much more dedicated.” For this and several other reasons, Bogdan would not take back the experience of attending AUC even if he could. Because of the school’s international student body and the cosmopolitan population of St. Maarten, Bogdan said he has friends on almost every continent. He also has made lifelong relationships with top medical professionals in his field and is currently geared up for all of the success his future holds. “He is just a bright, personable and interesting young man who attacks whatever he is doing,” Thompson said. For current or prospective AUC students who face the naysayers each day, Bogdan has this advice: “My main thing is don’t believe the rumors that you might not get clinical rotations or there aren’t enough seats,” he said. “Secondly, study. Get the highest board scores that you can, review the books and be dedicated. Those scores will separate you from the rest of the pack. If you don’t do well, it will make things harder. But, don’t give up. You can do anything you want to do if you are willing to work hard and sacrifice. Enjoy your time there. It goes fast and it feels like you are never getting off the island, but when you get off, it takes years to get back.” q

AUC CONNECTIONS 7


Profiles Lending a Hand By Ashley St. Pierre

D

uring a difficult surgery involving a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, the patient lost a lot of blood, recalls Seth Judd, a third-year general surgery resident. Judd didn’t think the patient was going to make it. And without the careful guidance and composure of his chief resident, Douglas J. McGuirk, M.D. (’01), perhaps the patient would not have pulled through. “McGuirk was calm and got the bleeding under control,” Judd recalled. “It was a good teaching opportunity he took to remind me to stay calm and keep my wits about me.”

McGuirk, who is set to complete a hand surgery fellowship in July at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, has learned a lot about keeping his wits and the upper hand in the face of challenge. It is a lesson he learned quickly when he did not get into a U.S. medical school. “It was very difficult initially to deal with, but when I talked to some students that were going to the Caribbean medical schools, they gave me a lot of confidence in the system.” Although he had earned a Bachelor of Science degree in pre-med and psychology at the University of Florida, McGuirk discovered that his self-assurance was a bit anemic when he enrolled at AUC in September 1996. “It was hard to get over the mystery behind the Caribbean system,” said McGuirk. “But they gave me a lot of confidence. They proved themselves at each level, and I became a stronger person at the end.”

Dr. Douglas McGuirk (right) performs a cleft lip repair on a child alongside Dr. David Leber, plastic surgeon, during a medical mission in the Philippines.

8 AUC CONNECTIONS

“I have experienced a whole lot at this early stage in life that I wouldn’t have at a U.S. medical school,” he added. “I think I appreciated the little things in life more, and am a better-rounded individual.” McGuirk, 34, got to see how others who are less fortunate value “the little things” that many people take for granted — such as access to critical health care. While completing his five-year general surgery residency at PinnacleHealth Hospitals in Harrisburg, Penn., McGuirk participated in two surgical missions with the World Surgical Foundation, traveling to Honduras and the Philippines. He was a third-year resident when he did a one-week stint in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with a small medical team consisting of a pediatric plastic surgeon, an anesthesiologist and a nurse. The group performed about 30 procedures, including cleft lip and cleft palate, total ear reconstructions as well as hand procedures and burn procedures, McGuirk said. “It was a fascinating time for me as well as a growing experience to see people in need of medical assistance as well as surgical assistance. These patients were so thankful for the time we gave them and the effort it took us to go out and help them,” he said. “It’s something we don’t get much in the United States. It was a great feeling for all of us to see the unselfishness and thankfulness.” When McGuirk traveled later to the Philippines, during his fifth year as chief resident, the medical team received a warm welcome.

McGuirk with a patient after the removal of a gangrenous gallbladder in the Philippines.


McGuirk at a park in Minnesota.

McGuirk, wife Sherrie and daughter Kylee.

“We took a 13-hour ferryboat to the island of Romblon, which was very indigent,” he said. “When we arrived on the boat, a large crowd greeted us with cheers, drums and native dress, and gave us handcrafted marble medallions. It gave us the desire to do the good that we planned on doing for that time period. It was long days with few breaks.” But during the whole time, the patients were stoic, McGuirk remembers. “They didn’t complain about anything. They rarely had pain medication.” McGuirk plans to participate in more missions, probably one about every three years, he says. And upon completion of his surgery fellowship, he sees himself establishing a subsurgical specialty practice, possibly academically affiliated — either hand or plastic surgery, said McGuirk, who traces his interest in surgery to childhood. “I was originally interested in plastic surgery and whenever I looked around for other possible professions and specialties, it always came back to plastic surgery,” he said.

referred to as a gamekeeper’s thumb, one of the worst locations of the body to injure for an up-and-coming surgeon. “I had to have hand surgery on my left thumb by a plastic surgeon, and he gave me lots of trust and confidence that he could get me back to 100 percent. It was an eye-opening experience for me,” McGuirk said. Now others have praise for McGuirk. “He was a very good surgeon, very dedicated, great to work with in the operating room. He had a good sense of humor and a great attitude all the time,” said Milorad Marjanovic, M.D. (’05), a former colleague at PinnacleHealth and fellow AUC graduate. “He’s very thorough,” added Judd. “As a doctor he was an excellent teacher, and he was always an advocate for the patient.” It’s a quality his wife of eight years also appreciates.

As McGuirk’s desire for surgery grew from an early age, so did his interest in a particular specialty. As a high school senior he played soccer, tripped and fractured his dominant left thumb. His injury is

“It’s rewarding to know I have somebody to take care of and help others,” said Sherrie Ann McGuirk, an elementary school teacher, who is currently a stay-at-home mom. The couple have a 2-year-old child and are expecting another in early October. q

McGuirk (right) performs a cleft lip repair on a Honduran child with Leber.

McGuirk performs a preoperative screening of a goiter patient in the Philippines.

AUC CONNECTIONS 9


Profiles An interview with James Szalados T

he abbreviations after his name are hard to fit in one line — M.D., J.D., M.B.A., B.Sc., M.H.A, F.C.C.P., F.C.C.M., F.C.L.M.A. — but James E. Szalados, a 1986 AUC graduate, can be best described with one word: determination. A practicing anesthesiologist, administrator, lawyer and author, he finds the time to do it all and to do it well.

After receiving his degree from AUC, he completed his residency in anesthesiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he was named chief resident, and his fellowship in critical care medicine at the same institution. Szalados went on to pursue an M.B.A. and M.H.A. at Pfeiffer University, in Charlotte, N.C., and a law degree at State University of New York in Buffalo. He is fully licensed as a physician in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida and New York and is admitted to the bar in New York, where he resides. Szalados talks to AUC about his very interesting career. AUC: What led you to pursue medicine and a business degree? Szalados: I love what I do. When I became a physician, it was imperative that I become the best physician possible. With clinical and academic advancement, it became obvious to me that physicians must become involved in directing the practice of medicine rather than becoming so clinically focused as to abdicate the management of their practices to others. Therefore, it was a natural progression for me to obtain an M.B.A. and then actively participate in the direction and management of programs, divisions, departments and now hospitals. Physicians must defend the clinical practice of medicine by insisting on having a place at the negotiating table. Optimally, medical education should focus early on the realities of medical practice including not only patient care but also practice management and the intricacies of the legal environment. Obviously, not all physicians will have the opportunity or the need to also formally be trained in administration and law, but nonetheless, it will have a better ability to interact with administrators and lawyers when necessary. AUC: What about your law degree? Szalados: It became obvious to me that many of the challenges that the practice of medicine faces today are imposed upon physicians by state and federal legislation, regulations and laws. There is no element of medical practice which is unaffected by law — contracts, malpractice, licensure, peer-review and credentialing, reimbursement, and public policy and health, to name just a few. It has always puzzled me that physicians, among the most intelligent and educated members of

10 AUC CONNECTIONS

society, are forced to practice under rules and regulations developed by those who have no understanding of either the art and science of medicine or the special nature of the physician-patient relationship. What can be more credible, or for that matter, indispensable, at a contract negotiation, a peer review or risk management conference, a deposition or trial, or public policy development forum than an established and credible clinician-administrator-attorney who can simultaneously invoke arguments regarding bedside patient care, fluently discuss administrative concerns and also provide a coherent legal analysis or argument? AUC: So you practice both law and medicine? Szalados: Presently, as part of my clinical commitments, I practice both anesthesiology and critical care medicine. As part of my administrative responsibility, I am VP of medical affairs and Chief Medical Officer. I also maintain an active legal practice concentrating in health law. Health law is a hybrid discipline of business law, regulatory law, contract law and civil litigation. None of this could be possible without careful time management, efficiency and commitment. AUC: How do you manage your time between these two demanding careers? Szalados: The idea is that although there is a strict compartmentalization of confidentialities, a great deal can be accomplished by multi-tasking throughout the course of the day. Most of us are trained to concentrate on one thing at a time and enjoy “down time” between tasks, [which is] grossly inefficient and prevents us from accomplishing what we could and should in the course of the day. I fill up my down time instead of working longer. Work hard when there is work to do and then write your own ticket for the rest of the way. AUC: How do you enjoy your free time? Szalados: I realized in medical school that there is a big distinction between living to work and working to live. As much as I love what I do and as much as I am committed to positively influencing the lives of my patients, my medical community and the future of medicine as a whole, I know that I cannot be good at what I do unless I have taken the time for recreation. I have a passion for the outdoors and enjoy hiking, kayaking and bicycle riding; I love to travel and enjoy new experiences; and I love to relax and read a good book. Spending time with friends and family is as important to me as anything else that I do. It is all about balance.


AUC: How do your careers relate to each other? Szalados: Law, administration and medicine necessarily complement each other. Indeed, private practitioners who manage their own medical practices realize that seeing patients, managing the practice and conforming to the legal requirements associated with employment, provider contracts and documentation. Similarly, those who practice in academic environment or as employed medical staff necessarily are part of the intersection of these three disciplines. Take for example some of the most publicized issues facing the practice of medicine today: medical malpractice, pay-for-performance, evolving practice guidelines and standards of care, managed-care and the uninsured, information-technology, clinical research and ethics at the end of life. It is clear that a unilateral perspective in any of these areas results in a skewed and dysfunctional future. AUC: How does your physician perspective help in your law practice? Szalados: When I represent a physician, I see a colleague in an unfamiliar world. I can see the constraints imposed by the state of medical knowledge and science at the time, the lack of complete clinical information in the context of care, the difficulties of finding the necessary support in the over-worked health care environment, and the issues presented by complex patients. Rarely is the issue one of “not caring” or “failing to do the right thing” — and more often it is a well trained and caring practitioner doing his or her best in an imperfect world. That is the perspective of a physician — the challenge is to paint the picture in words the judge and jury can understand. AUC: Which career do you derive the most pleasure from? Szalados: The challenges and rewards of medicine cannot compare, in my opinion, with any other vocation or profession. Medicine is, without a doubt, the noblest of all professions. I have seen this to be true, I know this to be true, and it is my honor and privilege to be a physician. Therefore, it is still my medical school training and experiences which have had the most impact on the person I am and what I perceive my mission in life to be. AUC: How did AUC play a part in the type of professional you became? Szalados: I would like to thank the faculty and staff of AUC for all that they have given me. Certainly, studying medicine at AUC was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I believe that in my present roles, I reflect well upon my teachers and mentors. My acceptance to AUC was the catalyst which allowed me to realize my dream of becoming a physician; thus, I look back on the very finest medical education I received at AUC with great gratitude. I also look back at the years which I spent on Montserrat with fondness since they will always be part of my formative years and I know that they helped develop my character and my spirit — I know that a part of me will forever be linked to the Emerald Island of the Caribbean. I would like to reach out to all the friends with whom I shared many of the “best of times” on the island and tell them that they will be in my heart forever. James Szalados would love to hear from classmates and can be reached at jszalados@aol.com q

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Publications Michael Harbut, M.D. (’84) recently published “soluble mesothelin-related peptide level elevation in mesothelioma serum and pleural effusions — a study of the value of a soluble mesothelin-related peptide (SMRP) blood assay in the early detection of mesothelioma.” Harbut and his team were able to conclude that SMRP proves to be a promising marker for mesothelioma. Harbut is currently co-director of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Royal Oak, Mich.

Michael Harbut, M.D.

Robert J. March, M.D. (’84), a hematologist/oncologist in private practice in Rockland County, N.Y., was published twice recently, with “a phase 2 study of XL999 in patients with NSCLC,” in the American Society of Clinical Oncology; and “integrated report of the phase 2 experience with XL 999 administered IV to patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), renal cell cancer, metastatic colorectal cancer, recurrent ovarian cancer, acute myelogenous leukemia and multiple myeloma.” Anil Patel, M.D. (’98) is publishing his fourth book, “Lange Instant Access: EKGs and Common Cardiac Studies.” It will be released in October 2008. Faith Dillard, M.D. (’99) recently co-authored a chapter entitled, “medical implications and planning for riots and mass gatherings” for the textbook “Tactical Emergency Medicine,” which covers a host of topics needed for the medical support of law enforcement special operations. Dillard’s chapter details the science of large crowds in the context of venue, weather and event types, and helps calculate medical usage rates.

Faith Dillard, M.D.

Rainier Guiang, M.D. (’99) co-wrote a textbook chapter on acute pain management that was published in the latest version of “Weiner’s Pain Management, a Practical Guide for Clinicians” while he was a faculty member in the anesthesia and pain management department at the Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio. He is currently in private practice in Riverside, Calif., practicing both anesthesia and pain management. Vibhuti Ansar, M.D. (’01), a family practicioner, has written two chapters for an upcoming book called “Essential Evidence Plus” and submitted a photo quiz of “Guttate psoriasis” that has been accepted by Postgraduate Medicine. In September she will be presenting at a national conference for the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine on the pitfalls of starting diabetic group visits in Savannah, Ga. Rick Watkins, M.D. (’01) has published two articles this year, one entitled “ventriculoperitoneal shunt infection caused by actinomyces neuii subsp. neuii” in the May 2008 issue of Journal of Clinical Microbiology. The other has been accepted for publication in Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice entitled “AIDS patient with false-positive cerebrospinal fluid VDRL, blindness, and neurosensory deafness from varicella zoster virus.” Watkins is currently in private practice in infectious diseases at Akron General Medical Center and is an assistant professor at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown, Ohio. He was married to Tracy Lemonovich, M.D., on April 26. Lemonovich is finishing her fellowship training in infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania and will be working at University Hospital in Cleveland.

Neetika Khosla Wu, M.D.

Paul Nanda, M.D.

Neetika Khosla Wu, M.D. (’01), family physician at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County, Calif., published her paper, “frontal lobe metabolic decreases with sleep deprivation not totally reversed by sleep recovery,” in 2006. Wu’s research interests include PET scan studies of neuropsychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and depression. Paul Nanda, M.D. (’03) has published the article, “c-reactive protein: a research roundup” in the journal Emergency Medicine. In it, Nanda explores the uses of the c-reactive protein (CRP) and provides physicians with the information necessary to determine how to integrate it into their everyday clinical practice. Nanda is a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at Ohio State University. Steven D. Jackson, M.D.

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Charles Talakkottur, M.D. (’04) has been listed as a photo contributor for “Images of Memorable Cases: 50 Years at the Bedside”, authored by Herbert L. Fred, M.D., and Hendrik A. Van Dijk. Talakkottur is also publishing a picture perfect case in an upcoming Resident and Staff Physician medical journal for pseudomyxoma peritonnei, known as “jelly belly.” Melissa Umphlett, M.D. (’05) is the sole author of the review book “Beat the Boards! (I Just Did): The Ultimate Guide to Ace Step 2 of the USMLE.” She is currently a second year pathology resident at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. She is editing and revising her second book, “Love Stinks,” a non-fiction, scientifically-based book geared towards a general audience. Umphlett is co-founder of a group of international physicians known as “The VIDD,” who have their annual meeting every spring in Ibiza, Spain. She plans to continue to write and return to New York City, her hometown, for a fellowship. Evita Singh, M.D. (’06), radiology resident at Providence Hospital, and Roger Gonda, M.D. (‘83), chairman of radiology at Providence, presented a paper on “MRI in breast cancer: surgical implications” to the International College of Surgeons meeting in Reno, Nev., this past June. Gonda was inducted as a fellow to the College. Jawwad Khan, M.D. (’07) is conducting mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) research at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., where he will also complete his residency in emergency medicine. His research project, “proteomic analysis of serum from patients with mild traumatic brain injury reveals differentially expressed proteins associated with subsequent post concussive syndrome,” has been accepted for an oral presentation at the annual meeting for the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) in Washington, D.C. Masood Shariff, M.D. (’07) has been active in research at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, Fla., since graduation. In the past year, his abstract, “human umbilical cord stem cells decrease myocardial cytokines, inflammatory cells, and infarct size” was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In April 2008, his article, “human cord progenitor cells decrease cytokines and inflammatory cells in acute myocardial infarction,” was selected for publication in the journal Stem Cells and Development. q

Grants &Awards Frederick B. Doerfler Jr., M.D. (’82) was awarded the Diabetes Physician Recognition Program for providing quality care to his patients with diabetes granted by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and the American Diabetes Association. The recognition is valid for three years and to get it, Doerfler had to submit data that demonstrated his performance met the program’s vital diabetes care measures, such as blood pressure tests, eye exams and patient satisfaction. Howard Webb, M.D. (’82) received the Doctor of the Year award at the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in recognition of his efforts to keep the outpatient clinic last year, which allows open access to health care for returning Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans so that their health care needs can be addressed at or near their hometowns. Ogubuike Emejuru, M.D. (’83) is a Physicians for Peace volunteer and was honored by President George W. Bush this past April for his medical missions in Nigeria at a ceremony at the White House marking the beginning of National Volunteer Week. Emejuru, a professor of clinical pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, has participated on several missions to his homeland of Nigeria in order to serve the underprivileged.

The Rev’d Jeffrey L. Hamblin, M.D. (‘92) was awarded the Attending Physician of the Year for Kings County Hospital, in Brooklyn, N.Y., in April. He was also elected to The Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry. Hamblin is secretary of the AUC Board of Directors and previously served as chairman. Amy M. Corcoran, M.D. (’03) was awarded a Geriatric Academic Career Award (GACA), a three-year grant to support junior faculty, from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Her focus is on teaching interdisciplinary teams and improving care of older adults at the end-of-life, especially those who live in nursing home communities. Corcoran is currently a clinical instructor in the Division of Geriatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. Steven D. Jackson, M.D. (’06) is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the tissue engineering branch of the orthopedic research laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Jackson was awarded an NIH grant to study injectable osteoinductive biodegradable composites for the purpose of bone engineering. q

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Honors Heart Matters By Paula Distefano

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t first, future cardiologist Patrick Alexander, M.D. (’04) thought he might become an engineer.

“I’ve always been interested in the sciences, and I liked the technical aspect of it,” he explained. The perceived isolation of the field and lack of personal contact, however, led him — after earning a master’s degree in basic medical sciences at Wayne State — to medicine and to AUC, where he graduated with honors and in the top 5% of his class. Alexander is now a cardiology fellow at Providence Hospital, in Michigan, where he also completed an internal medicine residency, continuing to leave a trail of excellence along the way. He was awarded first place with the poster presentation “left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy,” at the 2008 Providence Hospital Resident Research Day. He was named Resident of the Year in 2007 and one of the 2006 recipients of the Tip Top Docs Award, also at Providence. The award recognizes overall contributions and commitment to the hospital as well as excellence in patient care. Alexander is also very active in research and resident teaching. Despite his love for cardiology, the decision to specialize was not his original one. “I thought maybe I’d be a pediatrician, I’ve always liked kids,” he said. “But when I was in my master’s, I really took an interest in cardiology. I did my thesis around basically heart function.” It was a decision the young doctor says “he never looked back” on. “Cardiology is a field of medicine where you get to kind of pull on everything you learned and apply it to the patient,” he said. “I’m a little bit biased, but the heart is kind of like the center of the person, you get to concentrate on the whole person. It is also a rewarding field, with a lot of new technology and new advancement.” Some of these advancements, explained Alexander, include stenting and valve repair. Choosing Providence for his post-graduate medical training was an easy decision, he explained. Alexander was raised in Michigan, and born in Providence Hospital! Coincidentally, during clinical rotations in OB/GYN, he actually got the chance to work on cases with the same obstetrician who had delivered him. “Providence is a great teaching institution, very active in education and the whole cardiology program is excellent,” he explained.

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Dr. Patrick Alexander is currently completing a fellowship in cardiology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich.

In fact, Providence has been a steady choice for many AUC graduates. Some of Alexander’s mentors there, such as Jamal Zarghami, M.D. (’96) and Shukri David, M.D. (’83), chief of cardiology, are fellow graduates. Anjani Rao, M.D. (’03), Peter Burke, M.D. (’04), Nenad Serafimoski, M.D. (’02) and Hamid Ghanbari, M.D. (’04), are also completing their cardiology fellowships at the institution. Alexander said he plans on pursuing an extra year of interventional cardiology after he finishes the fellowship, which would include stenting and angioplasty. After that, he would like to go into private practice, either solo or with a group. As for life balance, the accomplished and hard-working doctor and married father of three, believes you can do it all. “It takes a lot of commitment and you really need to budget your time,” said Alexander. “I still get to the gym three to four times a week, work everyday and spend time with my wife. It’s not hard, you need to balance your life and be focused,” He has nothing but praise for the medical education he received in St. Maarten. “We have great graduates of AUC, and not surprisingly, a lot of the students and classmates of mine have gone on to be chief residents,” he explained. “AUC students are not getting out and cruising through medical school, they are coming out as leaders of their programs and that is a great accomplishment.” q


Honors Coming in First By Paula Distefano

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isha Bunke, M.D. (’04) was first introduced to her future medical specialty — phlebology — as a medical student, during her third-year clinical rotations in the United Kingdom. Her interest was immediately sparked. So much so, that after completing her residency in family medicine at Deaconess Hospital, in Evansville, Ind., she became the first official phlebology fellow in the United States.

The specialty, relatively new in the United States, has been recognized and practiced in Europe for many years. The first-ever one-year program is being offered through the University of California in San Diego’s surgery department. Bunke applied to the program independently through the university. Other programs, says Bunke, will eventually follow. “As phlebology is becoming a specialized field, it requires specialized training. Venous disease is a common condition and some people require specialized care and the treatments are virtually non-invasive. As a result of this need for specialists in this field, the first academic phlebology fellowship was initiated by Dr. John Bergan, a world renowned vascular surgeon and also one of the pioneers in phlebology,” said Bunke. As part of the fellowship, Bunke is working on several research projects, publications and presentations at conferences with Bergan, something she feels “very lucky” to be doing. Board certification for the new specialty was only offered for the first time last year, but there are hundreds of practicing phlebologists, said Bunke. They come from a variety of backgrounds like vascular surgery, interventional radiology and more recently, as the procedures have become less invasive, internists and family medicine physicians. “If any primary care [specialist] decides to do the academic aspect of it, they can apply to this fellowship, as it does involve a lot of research,” explained Bunke. “It’s sort of like a vascular medicine fellowship for non-surgeons.” Bunke said that now is an exciting time for the field. For the past ten years, surgery has been replaced by less invasive procedures and great strides have been made in research. Some of the non-invasive procedures that the doctor is learning during her fellowship include sclerotherapy, radiofrequency and laser ablation of the veins and wound care.

Dr. Nisha Burke is the first official phlebology fellow in the United States. The one-year program is offered through the University of California in San Diego’s surgery department.

The California physician said she plans to continue to do research part time as well as going into a vein-related conditions private practice and working with the University after she finishes the fellowship. She will take her family medicine board exam this summer and the phlebology boards in the upcoming year. About her days in St. Maarten, the young doctor has good memories. “I loved my experience in St. Maarten,” she said. “When people ask me how I was able to get any studying done, I tell them I studied as much as anyone in an American medical school, but we had a better view from the library.” q

“If any primary care [specialist] decides to do the academic aspect of it, they can apply to this fellowship, as it does involve a lot of research.” AUC CONNECTIONS 15


becoming chief residents and leaders in their programs and beyond. The quality of a medical school can be measured in great part by its alumni. So we thank all of you who, throughout these past 30 years, have helped shape AUC into the great school it has become.

By D.F. Jones and Paula Distefano

Two Islands – One School

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n August 1978, the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine innaugurated its charter class.

Today, 30 years later, AUC occupies a state-of-the-art campus on the beautiful island of St. Maarten, having graduated over 4,000 doctors who are practicing in the most diverse specialties in all 50 states as well as Canada and abroad.

In the next few pages, we are going to remember AUC’s presence on the two islands through our alumni’s memories and impressions of their time in medical school. Not a chronological timeline replete with facts, dates and figures, this story will be told through the prism of collective memories, shared experiences and memorable anecdotes. Enjoy the ride!

The Beginning For many graduates, faculty and staff, the island of Montserrat holds a special place deep in their hearts. The cozy British territory nestled in the Leeward Islands was the school’s home in the early years and laid the foundation for future doctors to earn a medical degree for more than three decades. Whether it’s called “the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” or “The Rock,” the island had a profound effect on all those who lived and studied there. Although only 10 miles long and seven miles wide, Montserrat embodied a unique character all its own. Students were exposed to a variety of local foods and customs — an additional learning experience from their medical courses. Goat stew, Montserrat’s national dish, and roti, also known as Caribbean burritos, became an accepted part of their diet. Locals served up sweet bread and fried chicken from stores, makeshift stands right from their yard, or on the side of the roads.

From left to right: Drs. Robert Chertok, Eugene Arnold and Duncan Munro celebrate commencement with new graduate Dr. Kim Karschner on Montserrat. Photo submitted by Robert and Dottie Chertok During these past three decades, the school has celebrated numerous milestones. AUC is a fully-accredited institution of higher education which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and all 50 states. AUC has doubled its basic medical sciences faculty, considerably increased its core clerkship numbers, and its most recently admitted classes have had the highest MCAT and GPA scores in the history of AUC. The campus has evolved with the times, offering students modern lecture halls with audio-visual technology, research and anatomical dissection laboratories, clinical examination rooms and an extensive library with a complete computer center. AUC’s alumni are matching in top-notch residency programs across the country, and what is more,

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Students also learned the English sport of cricket, while in turn teaching their Montserratian counterparts another bat-and-ball sport — softball. Those cross-cultural exchanges formed an unparalleled bond with the island; it was rustic and undiluted, providing a sense of community thousands of miles from home.

That’s not to say, however, that attending medical school on an isolated island and foreign country didn’t pose challenges. For instance, fresh milk and air conditioning were hard to find. Sometimes exams had to be taken by candlelight and every couple of weeks when the wind would die down, a swarm of little black insects would infiltrate the campus — an event known as “Bug Night.”

Faculty and students regularly played a variety of sports together like basketball, golf and softball and would organize tournaments on Montserrat. Photo submitted by Robert and Dottie Chertok


Few students had cars as well, so getting around required walking, hitching a ride with a classmate or hailing a cab. Despite the absence of a few stateside creature comforts, most not only embraced the challenges, but also thrived in them. Securing a hot plate could add a little variety to one’s daily diet and ceiling fans kept students cool for the most part. Moreover, the right connections could even get a piping hot pizza delivered — courtesy of an underground business operation that was passed down from student to student. Island ingenuity aside, the most important things for someone attending AUC on Montserrat were learning and studying. Students’ diligence and passion combined with the guiding hands of dedicated faculty like Drs. Robert Chertok, Dale Van Wormer, Anthony Glaser and Duncan Munro helped prepare them for the world of medicine. The AUC campus on Montserrat included a guard station, an administrative building, classrooms, a student activities center, dorms and a cafeteria. Often students would eat and study at one of the three open-air hexagon-shaped structures that served as the dining area. Chicken and rice seemed to be a reoccurring theme. Situated atop a hill overlooking the capital city of Plymouth and the docks — the only port of entry into Montserrat at the time — students could gaze out over the turquoise water and watch ships make their approach. Sometimes one of the large three-mast sailing vessels would show up on the horizon, which was a beautiful sight to see. Two rows of dormitories were adjacent to the cafeteria. Modest and cozy by American standards, these rooms housed the majority of students on Montserrat. A typical room included two beds, two desks, a ceiling fan and a windowed door that led out to the lanai. The student activity center was another vital resource for students. Sandwiches and snacks were sold during the day. Televisions were rare, so having one there allowed students to watch movies and relax over the weekend. There was a gym with weights and aerobic classes were held at the center as well. It was not only a social venue, but also a way to continue some of the routines that reminded students of home. It was a delicate balance attending AUC and living on Montserrat. While adapting to new cultural lifestyles and making new friends, the ones who made it never lost sight of finishing what they started. Not even hurricanes or volcano eruptions could stop them.

Top: The cafeteria served as the main dining facility on campus. It also afforded a picturesque view of the capital city of Plymouth and port. Below: Drs. Alan Weintraub (’82) and James Fontanesi (’82) sit in their red Triumph outside the entrance of the AUC campus on Montserrat. Top: Photo submitted by Lance Davis, M.D. (’87) Below: Photo submitted by Alan Weintraub, M.D. (’82) Those students who traveled to this tiny island came to realize a lifelong dream — a dream of becoming a doctor. Although they came to a strange land, they did not leave as strangers. The friendships and medical education received at AUC on Montserrat not only transformed their lives, but also their patients’ lives forever. Joseph “Bubba” Hastie, M.D. (’94) described it best on an entry in one of the last pages of a homemade yearbook he made while on Montserrat. The musing sits below a faded picture of a picturesque sunset on one of his very last nights on the island: “Chances are that Montserrat means different things to each of us, but one thing is invariant: Montserrat intensely means something to each of us. Our experiences here will also mean something very significant to another group of people in the near future and distant future — our patients. I don’t pray very often, but tonight … May almighty God guide your head, your heart and your hands as you minister to the needs of the suffering …” q

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The first semester there was very little outside contact. The radio station wasn’t established yet. The newspapers were like three weeks old and you sort of felt isolated. I managed to get a hold of a small hot pot and make some really creative lunches for myself while there. I found out it wasn’t the food you missed, but the fact that you could go out there and get it. — Lance Davis, M.D. (’87) The experience was incredible. We had a normal routine at Montserrat. We went to class during the day, headed to the tennis court, played for two hours, got something to eat and then went home and studied until two in the morning. There were good instructors. Dr. Chertok, who taught physiology, did important research in renal function. The clinical lab instructor was from Johns Hopkins. There was really good teaching. I am trying to get back to Montserrat this year. There’s still stuff in my old apartment! — Gregory Pinnell, M.D. (’97) I was part of a team of spear fishermen for lobster off the coast near the airport side of the island. Michael, Bruce, Dag and Tony were the actual guys with the Hawaiian slings and my job was to keep watch for sharks. After shredding our skin swimming over the rough rocks, we would arrive at the reefs where lobster lived in peace for too long. The guys would then do their thing and catch enormous crustaceans! We would eat like kings in the dorms. A welcome change from Ram’s grade C chicken! — Catherine LaRuffa, M.D. (’86) Prince Phillip came for a visit once on the Royal Yacht Britannia. We figured out which church he was going to go to, and I sat on 18 AUC CONNECTIONS

the other side. He was in front. We actually held our places, my girlfriend and I, and we couldn’t believe we were sitting on the opposite side of Prince Phillip! He was quite impressive. He did not have any jewelry on except a watch. We were told we couldn’t speak to him unless he spoke to us first. He didn’t speak to me, but he did pose for a picture. — Vanessa Davis, M.D. (’96) Our theme song, sung to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club song, was “M-O-N… T-S-E… R-R-A-T! Montserrat! Montserrat! Forever hold our standards up on high! High! High! M-O-N… T-S-E… R-R-A-T!” — Judy (Millspaugh) Anderson, M.D. (’81) For the very first semester we were there, because they didn’t have the cafeteria built, we had a “meal plan” with a local Montseratian family for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So we paid this family a lump sum [of] money and they served us food around a big long table. The meals were always local dishes. It was chicken, chicken and more chicken cooked in every way you could, and every fruit and vegetable cooked every traditional way you could have it. The mom, daughters and extended family served the food. — Alan H. Weintraub, M.D. (’82) The locals’ idea of a fast food restaurant typically took about an hour to go in and get french fries and ketchup. But that’s how life was there. Life was simple, it was very peaceful. Everybody was very friendly, including the locals. There was one bar on the island called the Green Flash that catered to the American medical students. — Nehal Patel, M.D. (’98) q

Montserrat fisherman. Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by David MacGillivray


I

t might sound strange to picture legendary Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr propped up on a fuel pump at the local gas station or Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger dancing in the crowd at the Yacht Club on Montserrat. It happened though, thanks to Sir George Martin, legendary producer of The Beatles and Academy Award-nominated composer. Martin founded Associated Independent Recordings (AIR) in London in 1969. Known as AIR Studios, the company became one of the most successful studio operations in the world.

A sister studio was built on Montserrat in the 1970s bringing many famous musicians and celebrities to the island. For years, artists such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton visited Montserrat regularly to record their future hits. Alan Weintraub, M.D. (’82), remembers vividly the variety of big names in the music business that spent time on the island while he attended AUC. Weintraub along with James Fontanesi, M.D. (’82), and Jeff Schwartz, M.D. (’83), rented a house off-campus on the north side of Montserrat past St. Johns. For three months one summer Paul and Linda McCartney were their neighbors. “Linda used to ride her horse through our property,” said Weintraub. As a bartender at the Agouti Inn, Weintraub was able to catch a few rare performances from some of the most famous rock icons in the past 50 years. Jimmy Buffet brought along his family when he recorded the album “Volcano,” which featured the song by the same name written about the then dormant Soufrière Hills volcano. Weintraub also saw one of the most unforgettable duet performances in his life right there at the Agouti Inn. “One night I go down there and Stevie Wonder is playing “Ebony and Ivory.” He came in and did the song with Paul McCartney.” Similarly, Catherine LaRuffa, M.D. (’86) had her own experiences with some of the great musicians who came to Montserrat. She and a few classmates formed a band called “Playing Doctor” and after befriending Frank Oglethorpe, technical manager for AIR Studios, he agreed to help transport their musical equipment to the different venues across the island. The group performed at the Agouti Inn, Yacht Club and the student activity center to name a few. “The night after playing the Yacht Club, some classmates told me that members of Eric Clapton’s band were in the audience listening

The Yacht Club was a popular place for faculty and students to unwind on Montserrat. Here you can see Dr. Dale Van Wormer in a green and white striped shirt dancing with his wife, Alice. Mick Jagger is standing opposite. Photo submitted by Robert and Dottie Chertok to us,” LaRuffa recalled. “One of our songs was an old Clapton tune and when the classmate asked a real band member to join us onstage, he said we were doing a fine rendition without them!” She also remembers running into Sting and his wife, Trudie, while they were relaxing on Vue Pointe Beach with one of their little children. A friend, however, managed to do her one better. “One of my classmates got to dance with Phil Collins at La Cave while the rest of us gawked.” LaRuffa and Oglethorpe remained great friends for years and eventually married. Thanks to her husband’s connection with AIR Studios, she was given the opportunity to meet Sting, Branford Marsalis, Deep Purples’ Roger Glover and Ian Gilliam as well as most of the members of Dire Straits. When Hurricane Hugo devastated the island in 1989, AIR Studios ALBUMS RECORDED was badly damaged and ON MONTSERRAT INCLUDE: forced to close. However, Brothers In Arms – Dire Straits after the volcanic eruptions Tug of War – Paul McCartney that began in 1995, Sir Accidentally on Purpose – Roger Glover George decided to revive The Eternal Idol – Black Sabbath the spirit of the island and Synchronicity – The Police began planning the construction of a cultural center. The first fundraising event was “Music for Montserrat,” a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1998 featuring many of the stars who once frequented the AIR Studios on the island. The cultural center, which opened last year, is a gift from Sir George to the people of Montserrat and gives the island hope to once again become a main tourist attraction. q

Goat Water is the national dish for the island of Montserrat. It typically involves goat meat cut into bite size pieces, onions, tomatoes, garlic, butter, chili sauce, flour, salt and pepper, and boiled rice. Dr. Lance Davis (’87) remembers this tasty dish being served at a popular hangout called The Attic. For a little extra money, the cook would take out the bones in the goat meat. Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by David Sanger AUC CONNECTIONS 19


Above: Kinsale, along with the rest of the island, received heavy damage from Hurricane Hugo. This picture was taken from the AUC campus looking down upon the town. Near right: Students wait patiently with suitcases to be evacuated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Bottom right: Coast Guardsmen prepare to secure their boat to the dock in order to evacuate students from Montserrat. Top right: The cafeteria, along with the rest of the campus, was badly damaged from the hurricane. Photos submitted by Robert and Dottie Chertok

Hurricane Hugo

T

he weather was absolutely balmy that [September 17, 1989] day, it was beautiful,” remembers Robert Chertok, Ph.D., dean of medical sciences. “Then the hurricane came in. It was a Category 5 hurricane, and it just flattened the island. There wasn’t a straight telephone pole left — it was amazing.”

Hurricane Hugo wiped out 90 percent of all structures on the island. Destruction costs were estimated between $100-$300 million. Nearly all homes and businesses, including the AUC campus, were destroyed. Thankfully, no one from AUC was injured in the storm, but the rest of the island’s population wasn’t as lucky — 22 people lost their lives. Students, however, used their good fortune to help those in need. Many joined forces with the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups to set up triage units in order to take care of the ill. During the next five days, the U.S. Coast Guard helped evacuate students and faculty to Antigua. Despite the tragedy, at no point did AUC ever consider closing the University’s doors. Providing students with the opportunity and resources to become a doctor has always remained the primary goal of the University. “It was an interesting time. We had such gutsy kids,” Chertok’s wife, Dottie, remembers.

Soufrière Hills AUC has survived a number of challenges — none more memorable than the eruption of Soufrière Hills volcano. It not only changed the lives of students, faculty and locals on Montserrat, but also showed

20 AUC CONNECTIONS

the courage and resilience of all those who went through the experience. The volcano began erupting on July 18, 1995, after a long period of dormancy, and only five years after AUC had recovered from Hurricane Hugo. Two years later a huge explosion sent pyroclastic flows through the capital city of Plymouth, port and airport. The southern portion of the island was destroyed including the AUC campus. The volcano has been active ever since. “I was in my office and someone ran in and said, ‘Dr. C its raining mud!’,” recalls Chertok. “I went out to the veranda and there were big globs of mud falling all over the campus. That was some sort of small explosion that threw mud up in the air. The magma was coming up toward the surface, and there were cracks in the mountain. Water had seeped down and hit that very hot magma and turned it into steam and mud and blew it back out. That’s what was raining down on campus.” For students and faculty, the weeks surrounding the first eruption were filled with uncertainty. Most had never experienced a natural disaster, especially one of this magnitude. As the air filled with sulphur and steam and smoke began to emanate from the top of Soufrière Hills, it was both frightening and intriguing for everyone who lived in its shadow.


“When I was swimming, at first I wondered why the ocean floor kept bubbling,” remembered Michael M. Mattson, M.D. (’96), who left the island before the eruption. “Then I put two and two together and realized that the whole island was volcanic. I became alarmed when I stepped on the beach and fully realized that the lava had to be very close to the surface or at least the water was superheated and warmed the beach sand. At this point, I had to do a small dance to get to dry sand.” Paul Moarbes, M.D. (’97), one of AUC’s first Lebanese students, remembers the ordeal as experienced alongside his friend and roommate, Nabil Naghi, M.D. (’97). “Ashes filled up the air and the smell of sulfur was awful. The daily quakes were increasing in frequency and intensity, and the nights seemed endless. It was a few days after our last clinical medicine test, which was our last test. We went to the airport, waited there with the hundreds of remaining locals and booked our exit flight out of [the island],” he recalls. “I can never forget Nabil’s face. As we took off and flew past “The Rock,” he told me that ‘not [only] have we survived

Soufrière Hills Volcano. Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist

the war in Lebanon, we also survived what turned out to be a blazing inferno.’ I miss [my] AUC days and miss Montserrat, and I feel sorry for what happened to this wonderful island.” Nehal Patel, M.D. (’98) also has vivid memories of the colors and impressions present during that time. “My friends and I would stand outside of our rooms and look up at the volcano at night, and we would see the glistening orange hue of the volcano as well as the nonstop assault of all the dust, smog and debris,” he said. “The tipping point was when we saw the British Navy warships coming to rescue people.” Eruptions rendered more than half of Montserrat uninhabitable, and roughly two thirds of the population had to evacuate. The large eruption, on June 25, 1997, killed 19 people. The airport was in the direct path of the eruption and was destroyed. The island, however, is slowly regenerating. The governments of both Montserrat and the United Kingdom have continued aid efforts and tourism is showing encouraging growth. Board by John Cole Signs of recovery include the new airport, Gerald’s Airport, which was constructed in the northern part of the island and was innaugurated in 2005. As the capital was leveled, the village of Brades currently serves as the de facto center of government. For the people who called the island their home, however, there is still a lot of sadness and nostalgia for the way things used to be. “I felt [like] such an integral part of the culture and the environment,” said Alan Weintraub M.D. (‘82). “I literally felt like a Montserratian. It was hard for me knowing what happened to the people and the culture and the animals. I knew the medical school would survive and find other ways to continue to do what they did, but it was more what happened to the soul of the island — which was the people. And I keep telling people that Montserrat was not a glamorous place. It had beautiful people and a beautiful soul.” q

Plymouth Old Courthouse. Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by Ishwar Persad

AUC CONNECTIONS 21


W

ith Montserrat practically uninhabitable due to the volcanic activity, AUC needed to relocate. Chosen was the beautiful island of St. Maarten, one of five island areas of the Netherlands Antilles, encompassing the southern half of the island of Saint Martin/ Sint Maarten. Today AUC’s state-of-the-art basic medical sciences campus overlooks beautiful Simpson Bay in the village of Cupecoy on the Dutch side of the island. Much has changed since the early days on Montserrat. Many students now have cars, and the island’s tourist attractions afford a variety of comforts. Numerous shops and restaurants are located within a few miles of the University, and the dollar is accepted throughout the Dutch side of the island. Having survived major natural disasters before, AUC knew it had to prepare. The new facilities were designed by a South Florida architectural firm to withstand Category 4 hurricane winds. The campus has its own electricity generation and desalinization facilities, and AUC stockpiles two weeks worth of food, water and fuel in case of emergency. The new campus of the medical school, comprising a multi-milliondollar teaching and learning facility with high-tech classrooms and

laboratories, a virtual imaging anatomy lab, a microbiology lab and a comprehensive medical library, was inaugurated in 1998. A far cry from its early beginnings, the school knew it had to adapt with the times. Technological strides were made which now include a virtual imaging anatomy lab, a cadaver dissection lab and an applied research laboratory, a computer lab, lecture halls equipped with modern audio/visual technology and patient examination rooms. Understanding that a respected medical school needs an advanced library, AUC today holds a vast collection of items, including books, videos, DVDs, CDs and 75 journals in print. The library offers students virtually every needed academic resource, and also serves as a popular gathering space for study groups. Wi-Fi is available as well as a Web-based catalog, which allows students to access holdings from anywhere with Internet access. Students also have campus-wide access to “UpToDate” (an online database for clinical research), as well as numerous computer stations, DVD players and faculty recommended software programs.

Community Service With the knowledge that doctors are leaders and that future physicians have a responsibility to help those in need, the school has started a community service program, where future medical doctors become involved in the local community promoting health awareness and

22 AUC CONNECTIONS


environmental conservation all the while learning more about the people of St. Maarten. In 2001, for the first time in its then 23-year history, AUC instituted an Office of Community Services. Robert Chertok, Ph.D., dean of basic medical sciences at the time, appointed Sue Atchley, Ph.D., as the director, a position she still holds. In 2005, the office expanded and was renamed Office of Community Services & External Affairs. The office pairs AUC students with non-governmental associations such as the Positive Foundation, St. Maarten AIDS Foundation, St. Maarten Diabetes Foundation, Crystal Home for Children, ICAN Foundation, among others. Students work with members of these organizations, performing activities such as demonstrating breast self-examination techniques to women and men, screening for blood glucose and hypertension, teaching sex education, presenting programs on sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS and even chaperoning neglected children to the zoo or to movie nights. Students are also involved in numerous fundraising activities. One such fundraiser was a golf tournament, which raised over $7,000 for the Prins Willem-Alexander School for Special Education.

There are now a total of 12 student organizations, many of which are the first Caribbean chapters of national United States organizations. The 11 groups, plus class representatives for all five semesters and the SGA executive board, the gym manager and the “movie guys and gals” (who screen weekly movies at one of AUC’s theater style auditoriums) comprise the SGA Council. Part of the mission of each group mandates that each member perform community service. Much of this growth is possible because of Atchley’s extensive private and public sector network on the island. Through her contacts, she is able to provide phone numbers and introductions, as well as act as a liaison with the students. Most of the current 450 students do some form of volunteer work during their basic medical science training. This is especially important since community involvement is becoming an increasingly crucial discriminator in the selection of medical residents, particularly in hospitals with competitive programs. q

Another example is the biannual Wine & Cheese Gala Evening. SGA President Megan (Loiacano) Almond, M.D. (’08) organized the first one, and it has become a regular event. The medical fraternity, Phi Chi, coordinates the food, cheese and wine pairings with a local gourmet restaurant, and the honor and service society, Alpha Omega Phi, conducts a silent auction. All proceeds are donated to one or two island foundations selected by the members of Alpha Omega Phi and Atchley.

Photos by Jason Jones. The AUC campus has its own electricity generation and desalinization facilities, and AUC stockpiles two weeks worth of food, water and fuel in case of emergencies.

AUC CONNECTIONS 23


I can’t think of another medical school in the world where you can wash away the smell of the anatomy lab with a quick dip in the Caribbean blue water steps away from campus. I absolutely loved my time at AUC and wish that I could re-live so many moments I spent there. Life at first was very difficult. I wasn’t used to having one ATM on the island and having to visit that machine three separate times 24 hours apart to pay my rent! I wasn’t used to having to pay my power bills in person during very short business hours. It was difficult to make scheduled appointments to talk with my parents back in the States and dial 45 different numbers to get there. I must say though, the benefits way exceeded these minor hassles. It was amazing to live on a Caribbean island, mingle with French and Dutch culture, and scuba dive and snorkel from my back porch. — Kimmerle Cohen, M.D. (’05) My experience on St. Maarten and AUC is one that I am both grateful for and will remember forever. I will say though, medical school was very, very hard and you have to really work at it to graduate from AUC, but in return you get a great medical education. All of the parties were great! The medical fraternity, student government, and some close friends held some memorable ones. This was a good time to catch up with fellow classmates and gossip about the professors…kidding! Every Sunday my friends and I would meet at Ricks Café and have breakfast while watching all the yachts move from the lagoon to the Atlantic. We visited most of the beaches and went to many nightclubs like Q Club and Bliss just to name a few. Catching a tender to Anguilla to swim with the dolphins and visiting Dog Island, where the sand was so white and soft it was like walking on powdered snow were some great highlights. And of course, leaving the island to start clinical clerkship was right up there too. — James Yost, M.D. (’06) My medical school experience in St. Maarten was amazing. I transferred from the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara after taking the USMLE Step 1 and was placed into the 5th semester. Although I spent only one semester on the island, I have 24 AUC CONNECTIONS

long lasting memories and made friends for life. Cheri’s Cafe was my favorite place to be. The best restaurants were Anand’s (Indian restaurant) in Philipsburg and De La Mer in Marigot. — Rizwana Fareeduddin, M.D. (’01) Attending school in St. Maarten was magnificent! Island life is very casual and serene. As a New York native, it was a little difficult to adjust to the slow pace but in a short while I felt right at home. I have priceless memories of Rick’s American Café, Sunset Beach Bar and Cheri’s. I made some of the best friends of my life and still keep in touch to this day. The funny adage I have heard many say is that “I can’t wait to get off the rock,” but as soon as you leave you miss the wonderful life you had there. There really is no shortage of things to do — beautiful beaches, hundreds of restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife… a true piece of paradise. AUC did a phenomenal job in preparing me for the medical profession. In no way, shape or form have I ever felt any less trained than my counterparts from the U.S. medical schools. The professors were first class and of the highest distinction. — Vito Rocco, M.D. (’01 ) q

Last Words

M

uch has changed throughout our 30 years. The American University of the Caribbean has overcome challenges, relocations and two different Caribbean islands with distinct cultures and people. What has remained the same though, is the continuous desire to be a better medical school with each coming year. The physicians that have passed through AUC’s classrooms all shared the same adventurous spirit, determination and most of all, the fervent desire to become great doctors. And most of them — most of you — have done just that. You are a living testament to your alma mater and an inspiration to all present and future AUC aspiring physicians. q

Happy 30th anniversary!


St. Maarten 1. The island is the smallest landmass to be shared by two separate governments, French and Dutch. 2. St. Maarten is the only completely duty-free port in the Caribbean.

Montserrat 1. Montserrat has the highest number of volcanologists per capita in the world. 2. Montserrat is the only country in the world outside Ireland where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday. 3. Montserrat is popularly known as the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean.”

3. Because the short runway at Princess Juliana Airport is located so close to the beach, planes are forced to fly a few meters above beachgoers’ heads as they land. Those who want to be blown across the beach by a jet blast (and some actually do!) can stand near the airport’s fence during a plane’s takeoff. 4. With the Concordia Agreement, signed more than 350 years ago, the Dutch and the French side agreed that residents of either side of the island can be commercially active on the other side without any difficulties. This contract of peaceful coexistence turns out to be the oldest active, undisputed treaty on Earth! 5. St. Maarten is known as the “Caribbean Gourmet Island,” with over 300 restaurants.

4. Montserrat is the only part of the British empire that is still growing, due to volcanic activity.

6. St. Maarten is only 37 square miles, but encompasses two nations and over 140 nationalities.

5. Montserrat has one of the purest supplies of drinking water in the world.

7. English is spoken everywhere, but Dutch is the official language of St. Maarten, and French the official language of Saint Martin. On the Dutch side, you can also hear Spanish, Papiamentu, Italian, Hindi, Chinese and other languages. On the French side, Creole Patois is also spoken.

6. Jimmy Buffet’s song “Volcano” was written about the Soufrière Hills volcano.

8. St. Maarten is also known as the “Friendly Island.”

7. Former AUC students came up with the idea for donations for the children of Montserrat affected by volcano crisis, which resulted in the creation of “Christmas in April.”

9. According to legend, a Frenchman and a Dutchman stood back-to-back and started to walk around the island with the agreement that where they met would determine the border between the two countries. The Frenchman took a flask of wine for refreshment while the Dutchman carried a bottle of potent Dutch gin. The weighty gin slowed the advance of the Dutchman allowing him only 16 square miles, while the invigorating wine kept the Frenchman on course, enabling him to cover more ground and to claim the remaining 21 square miles of the island.

8. One of Montserrat’s famous dishes — mountain chicken — is also known as frog legs.

10. Lolos (small open-air food places or roadside stands for snacks) are common. The most famous one is “Johnny Under the Tree” in Cole Bay.

9. Montserrat’s “rum shops” are the best places to “lime” (hang out) and relax. 10. Montserrat was given its name by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, after its namesake located in Catalonia.

Masqueraders. Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by John Cole

AUC CONNECTIONS 25


AUC:30Years A Family Affair By Ashley St. Pierre

O

ver twenty years ago, when Abe Hardoon, M.D. (’86) and Vaughn Jackson Sr., M.D. (’87) crossed the stage at the American University of the Caribbean officially becoming doctors, they never imagined that their sons would one day fulfill the same dream and join them as AUC graduates. However, that is the case with Scott Hardoon, M.D. (’08) and Vaughn Jackson Jr. Abe Hardoon, 55, is now an internist at Suntree Internal Medicine in Melbourne, Fla., while his son, Scott, 27, who received his medical degree from AUC in April, just began his internal medicine residency at Orlando Regional Healthcare this summer.

Abe and Scott Hardoon during Scott’s graduation in St. Maarten.

Vaughn Jackson Sr., 55, a family physician, currently runs his own practice, The Conejos Medical Clinics, which has two offices in Conejos County, Colo. And his son, Vaughn Jackson Jr., 30, is completing his fourth year at AUC. In both cases, the elder Hardoon and Jackson brought their families along with them to AUC, then located on the island of Montserrat.

Drs. Abe and Scott Hardoon, and family in Monserrat.

Both Scott Hardoon and Vaughn Jackson Jr. spent part of their childhood in Montserrat while their fathers attended medical school. Although Scott may not remember some of the harsh realities that came with living on Montserrat — such as a lack of fresh milk and other groceries delivered only once a week from St. Maarten — he does remember many of the sights and activities that Montserrat is known for, including visiting the volcano, Soufrière Hills, whose eruption eventually caused AUC to relocate to St. Maarten. “My mom and older brother did sightseeing things together. We took a donkey ride to the top of the mountain volcano that was supposedly dormant and saw bubbling sulfur pools at the top. I remember that smell when I was younger. It was unique, like rotten eggs,” he said. Hardoon’s father also recalls the unique experience on the island. “Montserrat was a totally different island than St. Maarten initially,” said Abe Hardoon. “In the dorm there was no hot water, so you had to take cold showers or go to the store and buy [water] bags you lay

26 AUC CONNECTIONS

on the floor. You lay them in the sun, the sun [would heat] them up and you [would] take a shower that way,” he said. The dorms also lacked televisions and phones, he recalled, though the university did have one phone — a pay phone that students used to stand in line to use.

When Vaughn Jackson Jr. looks back, he recalls the cultural differences he experienced in Montserrat, such as the “carefree attitude” and unrushed nature of the island. He also remembers missing his father quite a bit. “I remember playing at the beach all the time,” said Vaughn Jackson Jr., who was 5 at the time his father took their family to Montserrat. “My father wasn’t around much. He was studying and going to school,” he said.

But being with their fathers during their medical school days on the island gave the young Hardoon and Jackson an early introduction to the medical profession. “He learned a lot from my husband growing up,” said Barbara Hardoon, Scott’s mother. “We used to visit the hospital when he was in residency, where Scott’s passion developed as he observed his dad at work. He knows what he’s getting into; let’s put it that way,” she added.


Vaughn Jackson Jr., one of five children, is the only one of his siblings who pursued a medical career. “He had talked about it, but wasn’t sure,” said Vaughn Jackson Sr. “He was a great athlete. He played football at Utah State. After he married, he called and said, ‘Dad, I’m going to medical school. That’s what I want to do.’”

Dr. Vaughn Jackson Sr., young Jackson Jr. and siblings in Monserrat.

Vaughn Jackson Sr. remembers advising his son “to get the ball rolling” by applying to AUC. He has nothing but praise for his alma mater.

“I thought their teaching was wonderful,” Vaughn Jackson Sr. said. “They’re very into academics as well as hands-on experience.”

Like Vaughn Jackson Sr., Abe Hardoon did not go to medical school until he was in his 30s. “I always wanted to be a doctor, except financially I did not have the opportunity,” said Abe Hardoon, who began working full time at age 16. Before attending AUC, he ran a fundraising firm. He learned about AUC through a cousin who had attended there, and decided he could be successful at medicine as well. After completing his medical training, he opened a private practice, Western Suffolk Medical Group, in New York, for five years before he moved to Florida. “I kind of didn’t feel like shoveling snow anymore,” he said of his reason for relocating. After working at an urgent care facility that handles calls from Disney hotels, he opened his current practice, Suntree Internal Medicine, in Melbourne. His son, however, began preparing for a medical career at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., where he completed his undergraduate degree in biology in 3 ½ years. Scott volunteered at his father’s practice and transported geriatric patients to and from their primary care appointments. Plans now are for father and son to be in practice together after Scott completes his residency. q

Raised on a ranch in Massamasso, Colo., which has been in his family since 1888, Vaughn Jackson Sr. was surrounded by 2,500 sheep, 800 head of cattle and 50 horses, essentially a veterinarian in his own right. “I was doing it all and it didn’t intrigue me anymore,” he said. “I knew how to do that, so I decided to be a doctor instead of a vet.” Having applied to the University of Colorado in Denver, Vaughn Jackson Sr. said he was told that at 32, he was too old. But he was determined to complete medical school and continued to apply. He was accepted to AUC. Later he went to England for his clinical rotations. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s made me a far, far better doctor than my peers in U.S. schools because they haven’t had the experience,” said Vaughn Jackson Sr., the first AUC graduate to be licensed in Colorado.

Father and son pose for a picture.

Left: Abe Hardoon shakes son Scott’s hand before graduation. Top: Vaughn Jackson Sr. at his AUC 1987 graduation. Right: Vaughn Jackson Jr. stands at the University entrance in St. Maarten.

AUC CONNECTIONS 27


AUC:30Years Love is in the (Island) Air M

edical school is a time for serious study, hard work, dedication and… love?

For our 30th anniversary edition, three very special AUC couples reminisce about their medical school days and falling in love, as well as one lucky couple who had two of their children while on the island of St. Maarten.

William A. Pullen M.D. (’82) and Jo Ann C. Pravata-Pullen, M.D. Jo Ann is a ’83 graduate of SUNY-Buffalo School of Medicine. She started at AUC but transferred in 1981. The couple married in June 1982. Jo Ann: We met in “alphabetical order” (Pravata came before Pullen on the first anatomy practicum!) We were lab study partners for several months. In March 1980, Bill and I started living together in a small rental vacation home in Olveston in Montserrat. We bought a Morris Marina car. It was very romantic! The house was in the middle of nowhere, and most of the other homes were unoccupied. The yard had beautiful flowers and lots of animals. It was a great place to study. I was a pharmacist and Bill a respiratory therapist before coming to AUC. Soon we became the top two students in the class. I knew I was in love with Bill when we attended the crab races at the Vue Pointe Hotel one Saturday night. Bill was upset about a crab that became injured. What more could a woman want? A handsome man that was not only going to be a doctor but was sensitive too! So far we have traveled all over the world together. Our son, Bill, was born in 1989. We climbed Mount Kailas in Tibet, hiked Mount Everest and the Inca trail to Machu Pichu, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, hiked and rafted the Grand Canyon, among other adventures.

Drs. Vijay Pallekonda and Angelina Bhandari

28 AUC CONNECTIONS

We have made a great team since meeting in gross anatomy in 1979. Bill, an endocrinologist, has been practicing in a very prestigious practice in Santa

Monica since 1988. I worked for Cigna for many years and now have formed my own successful group in Drs. William A. Pullen and Jo Ann C. Pravata-Pullen 2000 in downtown Los Angeles. Neither could have achieved our accomplishments without the other. We look upon our time in Montserrat as the best year and a half of our lives. We would not trade the experience! As a result of our experiences with and after AUC, we feel we are both better doctors and people. We truly appreciate our degrees and positions in life as our goals were difficult to obtain. We are a tightly bound couple because of a mutual sharing of adversity. We just had a large party for our 25th wedding anniversary and renewed our vows. We would like to travel again to Montserrat soon. (As I am typing this I am sitting below a mounted poster map of “our island” that has been hanging in wherever we have lived since 1982!)

Angelina Bhandari, M.D. (‘94) and Vijay Pallekonda, M.D. (‘95) The couple has been married for 11 years, and been together for 18. Angelina: Although Vijay doesn’t remember, we first met on the island of Montserrat at Angelos. We did not actually get together until four months later and we would often take walks and talk about our journeys to AUC. On one of those walks in early December, we shared a kiss in the moonlight. I knew I loved him then and there, and it was magical. Throughout our clinical rotations, we spent time apart, but would try to see as much as we could of each other. Occasionally, we would be together during some of the rotations, but it was a challenge to stay together. Even so, we supported each other during the USMLE exams and made it a policy to always be there for one another even if we broke up. In 1995 Vijay was accepted into the Cook County med/peds residency program in Chicago. I matched into the anesthesia program at Rush University, right across the street. We knew that many people are not


I had talked to two women who had given birth there, and they said it was fine. I knew that anesthesia and a c-section were possible if necessary. Juliana arrived at 12 days past my due date.

Elise, Juliana and Cassidy Carda

lucky enough to be in the same city and so, with a hectic schedule, we were engaged in July 1997. We got married that December in front of five thousand people in a small town in India. Vijay decided to join an anesthesia residency program and is currently a CA2 resident at Rush, where I am an associate professor in anesthesiology. We have two sons, Anand and Viraj, and welcomed a daughter, Chandrika, in December 2007. We travel to India yearly to do missionary work and bring our children with us. We want them to know that no matter where they are in their lives, they should always give their time to the community and to those less fortunate. I thank God everyday we made it this far in our journey and will continue to do so with each other by our side. You have to have faith it will all work out at the end and of course a little help from AUC!

Zachary Young, M.D. (’05) and Misty Good, M.D. (’05) The couple has been married three years, and been together seven. Misty: The magical moment happened over… a cadaver! We began dating in our first semester after Zac helped me study for an anatomy practical at the last minute. We left the island after five semesters to move to New York and do our clinicals. Zac proposed while we Drs. Zachary Young and Misty Good were on vacation in San Diego. We were taking a sunset gondola ride around the San Diego Bay, and he surprised me by getting down on one knee in our little boat! We continued dating until our fourth year of medical school, when we had a destination wedding at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. We successfully couples-matched at our first choice in Illinois: Zac for internal medicine and me for pediatrics. Currently, we are finishing up residency and moving to Pennsylvania to continue our careers with fellowships: Zac in pulmonary/critical care medicine, and neonatal intensive care for myself. AUC was a great matchmaker for us! Thanks again.

One scary thing that happened was at about my due date, Chad was hit hard by dengue fever! He was home suffering from fever, chills and rash. Here I was taking care of two small kids and him and about ready to give birth. No family was around and we hadn’t really gotten to know anybody yet. I was worried that I would go into labor and he wouldn’t be able to go to the hospital with me or take care of the little ones. Luckily, Juliana decided to wait another two weeks to come out when Chad was fully recovered. A funny thing happened in the hospital when I was in the labor room and saw a mosquito on the wall. (I had visions of Chad suffering from dengue fresh in my mind.) I took off my shoe and just as I was about to smash it, the nurse bellowed, “Don’t you dirty my wall!” I froze and decided to follow her rules. By the time Juliana was five months, I was expecting again. One of Chad’s instructors paid patients to come to the lecture room to demonstrate examination techniques. I got to be one of these. I would go once per semester and be his patient for the class. That was our only earned income during that time. For this pregnancy, I switched from the medical doctor to the midwife. This provided more of a truly Caribbean experience. She used a wooden horn-like device to hear the heartbeat, preferring it over the Doppler. Eleah, the next baby, came six days past her due date. She was five weeks old when we left the island. The AUC Spouses Organization was of great benefit to me. We got together every so often to do fun things around the island. Another good reason to have kids there, either flown-in or born there, is that the spouses can’t work. What would a spouse do all the time if she didn’t have kids to keep her busy? In summary, everything worked out just perfectly. We got our babies and had a tropical adventure. After we got back to the states in 2004 (spending 10 months in Ireland for clinicals), we had two more babies with all the luxuries of home. Chase was born during Chad’s 4th year of school, and Chance was born during first year of residency. Chad completed his family medicine residency this past June, and we are eagerly anticipating the next phase of our lives. q

Chad Carda, M.D. (’05) and Laura Carda The couple arrived on St. Maarten with two children and left with four! Laura: We took Cassidy, 2, and Elise, 1, to St. Maarten in January 2002. I was 36 weeks pregnant with our third when we arrived on the island. I wasn’t worried about giving birth in a foreign country.

Dr. Chad Carda, Laura Carda and family

AUC CONNECTIONS 29


Class Notes 1970s Ross A. Horsley, M.D. (’79) is board certified in diagnostic radiology and is the owner of Olean Open MRI in Olean, N.Y. He and wife Diane have four children, two of whom are currently osteopathic medical students.

1980s Kevin D. Weikart, M.D. (’84) is the chief of staff at Saint Joseph Hospital West in Lake St. Louis, Mo., and is also the president of the St. Charles and Lincoln County Medical Society. He is a medical student clinical preceptor for the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a member of the Organized Medical Staff Section of the AMA for St. Joseph Health Center and Hospital West. April 2008 marked his twentieth year practicing medicine. Allan G. Flaggman, M.D. (’86) is currently the staff psychiatrist at Sarah Lawrence College’s campus health services in Bronxville, N.Y. S. John Pappas, M.D. (’86) has worked as an assistant director at the University of Toledo Medical Center since 1994 supervising students and residents during their ER rotation. He and wife Angela are expecting their first child in July. Robert A. Colman, M.D. (’86) is president and CEO of Pediatric & Adult Allergy, P.C., a professor in AUC’s clinical department and a member of the teaching faculty at IMMC and Children’s Hospital. He recently returned to London to visit former clinical sites. Michael Zbiegien, M.D., (’86) is currently medical director of emergency services at Sunrise Children’s Hospital in Las Vegas, Nev., and forensic examiner for Clark County Children’s Advocacy Center, also in Las Vegas. Zbiegien completed his residency in pediatrics at Cooper Hospital and Medical Center in Camden, N.J., and a fellowship in emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. He has been married for 21 years and has two sons, Alexander, 13, and Michael, 12.

Jeffrey Kagan, M.D. (’88) is on the editorial board of Medical Economics and was recently elected to the AUC Alumni Board. Kagan lectures frequently to medical professionals on topics including chronic kidney disease, hypertension, dementia and hospice. He is board certified in internal medicine and is a certified medical director (CMD). Besides being an assistant clinical professor of medicine for the University of Connecticut, Kagan also is the medical director of a skilled nursing home and maintains a busy private practice in Newington, Conn. He also sees patients at home, in nursing homes and in the hospital. Is his spare time, he enjoys boating, skiing and traveling. Kagan lives in West Hartford, Conn., with wife Sunny, who accompanied him to Montserrat during basic medical sciences. The couple has two grown children, Jonathan, 25, and Emily, 22.

Robert A. Colman, M.D.

Jeffrey Kagan, M.D.

1990s Paul R. Martin, J.D., M.D. (’90) is practicing intellectual property law in Pleasanton, Calif. He is interested in hearing from classmates. He can be reached at rpm_12346@msn.com. Ross D. Andreassen, M.D. (’95) has been working in general anesthesiology for six years after completing his residency at St. Louis University. He and wife Elaine have two grown children — Sonya and Andrew — and enjoy their free time doing various projects. They also own a campground on the White River in Missouri. Manish Gupta, M.D. (’95) is in private practice as a board-certified plastic surgeon in Toledo, Ohio, and was recently inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He completed his general surgery residency at Huron Hospital — Cleveland Clinic Health System. Subsequent training in plastic surgery was completed at the Medical College of Ohio and St. Vincent’s Mercy Hospital in Toledo. Gupta was named “Best Cosmetic Surgeon in 2004,” as voted by the readership of Toledo City Paper.

Alison M. Sastry, M.D.

Milan R. Shah, M.D.

Alison M. Sastry, M.D. (‘97) completed her residency in general adult psychiatry at the University of Connecticut in Farmington, Conn. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is licensed in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Sastry now enjoys the sun, surf and sand of Virginia Beach, Va., where she is an Douglas Tanita, M.D.

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Spotlight N

orma Jean Will, M.D. (’01) completed her family medicine residency in 2004 at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Ind., where she took a job as a family practitioner. She is currently an assistant director at the family medicine residency program at the same institution. Through her work at Deaconess, Will was able to participate in four mission trips to a sister hospital in one of the poorest areas of Jamaica. She says she enjoys teaching residents, seeing patients and practicing missionary medicine, but her real passion in life is cooking. “Attending medical school at AUC has allowed me to live abroad and travel extensively while receiving my medical education, so my culinary skills have acquired an international repertoire,” said Will.

So much so that she has authored a cookbook, “From My Travels to Your Table,” published in June 2008. She has submitted a recipe for a contest at the Martha Stewart Show and is waiting to hear if she will be featured in an upcoming episode. Celebrated American actor, dancer and singer Ben Vereen is featured in one of the chapters in the book. “It is a rather exciting endeavor so far,” said Will. “Once I have recovered some of the initial expense of producing the cookbook, I plan to donate a portion of the proceeds to help fund future medical missionary trips.” For more details on Norma Will’s cookbook and medical mission endeavors, please go to www.recipes2dine4.com. q attending psychiatrist at a private outpatient clinic and also in private practice. Her travels and cruises have taken her to the British Isles, Greece, Italy, Turkey and many destinations in the Caribbean. Kevin W. Watson, M.D. (’99) is currently in private practice in New Britain, Conn., after completing a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in pulmonary/critical care, both at the University of Connecticut. He specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine and sleep medicine. Stephanie J. Spytek, M.D. (’99) recently passed her oral board exam in Dallas, Texas, for OB/GYN and has been accepted into a fellowship in minimally invasive pelvic surgery in Celebration, Fla. Milan R. Shah, M.D. (’99) is the medical director of the Bakersfield Wellness Center and Beautologie MediSpa — a 15,000 square foot institute with comprehensive plastic surgery and laser services, an all-inclusive medical spa, personal training, nutrition and women’s health. He is COO of the Bakersfield Wellness Surgery Center and medical director of Beautologie Medical Aesthetics, California Central Valley’s largest and most comprehensive cosmetic and laser institute. Shah is currently starring on Cutting Edge M.D.’s™ KBFX (Fox), and is an expert consultant for a variety of media.

2000s Kamran A. Abbasi, M.D. (’00) specializes in internal medicine and has been working as a hospitalist since his graduation in 2000.

He and wife Saima are expecting a new baby this summer in addition to their twin daughters, Ameera and Ameena. Compton Kurtz, M.D. (’00) is married with a two-year-old son and newborn daughter. He was in Colorado at the end of May for a national rugby championship. Kurtz played rugby on St. Maarten with classmates during medical school. Amy Barnhart, M.D. (’01) married Nick Swords in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, this past April. The couple honeymooned in Costa Rica. Barnhart recently joined the pediatric hospitalist group at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind. The medical group covers the inpatient pediatric and teaching services and also covers critical care transports. Nilar U, M.D. (’01) has been working as a family physician in Maryland and is married to Zaw, a psychiatrist, who is finishing a fellowship in sleep medicine. Amesh A. Adalja, M.D. (’02) is now a fellow in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He recently completed a five-year residency in internal and emergency medicine at Allegheny General Hospital. Brian A. McCollough, M.D. (’02) started a high-risk obstetrics fellowship at Spartanburg Regional Hospital, in Spartanburg, S.C. He completed his family medicine residency at Seneca Lakes Family Medicine Residency Program, in Seneca, S.C. As part of the program, residents completed their intern year an AnMed Health family medicine program in Anderson, S.C. During his residency, McCollough presented twice at the Hickory Knob Family Medicine Research Symposium. In 2007, he was awarded second place for his presentation, “management

AUC CONNECTIONS 31


From the Mailbag x, and I mean g to my inferiority comple C graduates, for contributin AU , you nk tha plex because and com s, ity tion rior hank you, AUC Connec so I developed an infe ed, ool sch e hom s wa I lain: as a child, g about things like the that sincerely. Let me exp ood. They were all learnin orh ghb nei the in s kid er e things as the oth great literature. I wasn’t learning the sam was human physiology and and all I was being taught Ill., ria, Peo in fall rain average annual on me! in Maryland took a chance behold, St. John’s College and lo but ehow , ege som coll but into n’t, get diplomas, and I did I was sure I would never ody else had high school ryb eve e aus bec x ple com Then I had an inferiority duated four years later. gra and , way any ed nag ma I John’s was a small liberal would take me because St. ool sch an eric Am n no and dical school, rses, and kept trying. The Then I tried to get into me and took some graduate cou d, ere sev per I but x, ple riority com arts college. OK, more infe and we have an age limit.” l, but now you are too old, wel did you e, nic t’s tha , they said, “oh here we are. to take a chance on me, and on AUC, and AUC decided nce cha a e tak to ided dec I Then I heard about AUC. tty much everybody the first four trimesters; pre for x ple com ity rior infe uble with the old t hospital. The others I didn’t have too much tro the only AUC student in tha was I and ns, atio rot ny ical n I got to my clin s told every day in so ma was in the same boat. The rs younger than I was. I wa yea 20 all also get e and wer y MG kins, and the pass the ECF were all from Johns Hop sh, and to graduate, and to ed that, and managed to fini viv sur I But . rior infe was I ways that a residency. could start paying d out to get a real job so I after two years, I droppe and ice, cho t rs later I was the firs yea my ee not thr It was in psychiatry, despite the fact that an at a state hospital, and sici phy d was supervising I war a all, as er Aft job a x. back my debts. I got ky inferiority comple pes t tha by d gue pla be rior, to heless continued , so I must have been infe medical director, I nevert cations up the old wazoo tifi cer rd boa had t? and s an school a hill of beans, righ people who went to Americ graduates don’t amount to Caribbean schools,” whose ose “th of one to t wen I right? And azing people, alumni are a group of am of retirement? My fellow eve the on am erior school. I as sup t a jus m , I obviously come fro So what do I find out now te every day that, in fact, tra ons dem h that, and o wit wh s, live ent can I em , ut. But that’s OK with outstanding achiev the graduates you write abo of e glow with som to as e l abl bal be the to h wit and I just didn’t run as far icles to my colleagues art se the of e som w sho to feels to be able I can’t tell you how good it go AUC! my fellow alumni. Way to and ter ma a pride for my alm e of the ed a paper, I have had som while I have never publish and d, rde bled, boa disa got er lly nev nta I ile lly ill and the developme And I have to add, that wh e worked with the menta hav on I e. pris ’s hav ld nia lva cou an nsy sici clinical director of Pen most interesting jobs a phy another three years as the ber and r, rub cto and dire t al hir dic T-s a me a in shorts and and spent three years as I went to work every day lusively Aquahab program, where I have a practice that is exc tly ren Cur it. system. I worked with an like ients any time I felt pat y time the onl h wit The er s. wat zen the citi in ior flip-flops, and jumped city with homebound sen er inn the of ts par ed it. en hat in downtrodd office), I absolutely house calls, much of them ee months in a colleague’s thr for ting igh onl (mo ne ce medici I ever tried conventional offi and keep e. Keep up the good work, I look forward to every issu and , tion take lica pily pub hap at l gre wil inferiority complex AUC Connections is a really of our fellow graduates. My s ent hm plis om acc sive telling us about the impres e in AUC. a back seat to the pride I hav er” class) q on, M.D. (’81) (The “chart ers And h) — Judy (Millspaug

T

32 AUC CONNECTIONS


A

lthough I began with the “hurricane [Luis] semester” back in 1995, I finally received my M.D. degree last summer, so my graduation date puts me among a group that won’t know me and separates me from those who will. It has been a long road that took me in many directions. Most significantly I served as vice president of information technology for a Michigan title company for several years. I went on to do independent consulting in IT after the company closed.

I was always interested in completing my medical training but life threw me some curves. With the support of my wife I have gotten that back on track. I passed USMLE Step 1 in March and am preparing for Step 2 now. I am also involved in creating a foundation to provide rugged surplus military laptops to autistic children to enhance their communication and socialization development outside the classroom. We have a seven-year-old autistic son. It is my intention to pursue a residency locally in order to keep my wife, two children and my father— who suffers from Alzheimer’s—here in Michigan. I know that securing a residency will be a huge task but I am working hard to make myself a good candidate. I would love to hear from any of my former classmates and have been lucky enough to get back in touch with a couple of them recently. I hope all are well and happy. We never knew the new campus and were involved in many great adventures in the transition to St. Maarten under very difficult circumstances. I think it enhanced the character of a number of people who went through it. Many very much rose to the occasion and shined. — Fernando M. Chaves M.D. (’07) q

Class Notes cont. of abdominal pain in pregnancy,” which was later published on South Carolina Family Physician. He has been on a medical mission trip to Haiti with the Volunteers in Medical Missions. McCullough has been happily married to Giovonna Evans for the past two years. Karen Gaynair, M.D. (’03) completed a residency in family medicine at Research Medical Center in St. Louis, Mo., in June 2008. She moved to South Florida to start her outpatient/inpatient medicine private practice — Gaynair Family Medicine. Gaynair also plans on going to medical missions to her home country of Jamaica and other countries. S. Irfan Syed, M.D. (’04), is currently chief resident at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago and will complete his psychiatry residency this year. He will commence a fellowship in addiction medicine next year at University of Illinois at Chicago. Derek McCoy, M.D. (’05) is finishing his family medicine residency as chief resident at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga. He will be starting a fellowship in sports medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. McCoy is engaged to Carrie Gilmer of Bel Air, Md., a graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Brent H. Messick, M.D. (’05) has received an award for outstanding resident of the year from Cabarrus Family Medicine North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians and will be entering a primary care sports medicine fellowship at the same institution. Paul Trisler, M.D. (’06) will be serving as chief resident with the emergency medicine department at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, La., for the upcoming academic year. Classmates Jeffrey Combetta, M.D. (’06) and Jason Egloff, M.D. (’06) have both been named chief residents of the Louisiana State University family practice program in the LSU Health Science Center of New Orleans, Lake Charles branch.

Judy (Millspa ugh) Anderso n,

M.D.

John Lusins, M.D. (’06) has accepted a psychiatry residency position at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.V. Lusins has spent two years working as chief operating officer at Lime Medical, a company that provides Web-based electronic health records for small- to medium-sized medical practices, where he will remain as a member of the board of directors. Lusins and his wife, Sophia Ommani, M.D. (‘06), adopted a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy named Winston, who they say is “the best dog in the world.” During the past year Lusins was elected an AUC Alumni Board member and would love to hear from fellow alumni. He can be reached at drjlusins@gmail.com. Neil Salas, M.D. (’07) accepted a PGY-2 position in general surgery at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Douglas Tanita, M.D. (’07), is a PGY-1 in OB/GYN at Bayfront Medical Center, in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he lives with wife Darleen and children Harrison and Davis, who were both born during medical school. q

AUC CONNECTIONS 33


Island News Montserrat’s Immunization Program going Strong By Cathy Buffonge

T

he immunization program in Montserrat continues to show close to 100 percent coverage of infants and children under five, according to Community Nursing Manager Violet Brown. The immunization program follows the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which Montserrat, along with other English speaking Caribbean countries, has been following for many years.

Infants under one year of age are immunized against diphtheria, tetanus and Pertussis (DPT), hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae. These five vaccines are combined into a Pentavalent vaccine, which reduces the number of shots for the children. This age group also receives polio drops given by mouth, as well as BCG vaccine against tuberculosis. During their second year they are vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and receive boosters for some of the others. Boosters of certain vaccines are also given at around four-and-a-half and fifteen years of age. This regime ensures that the island has a well-protected child population. Montserrat has quite a large migrant population but this is not a problem, since children arriving on the island are added to the system and their vaccines updated as necessary. Tetanus boosters are needed every ten years, and nursing manager Brown, who is also EPI manager, is encouraging adults Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by David MacGillivray

34 AUC CONNECTIONS

Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by David MacGillivray

to come for these booster shots so that they too can remain protected. MMR is also offered to adults if they did not receive it as children. Rubella (German measles) is part of the MMR vaccine, and Montserrat has not had a case of Rubella for many years. This vaccine is particularly important, since pregnant mothers exposed to it can give birth to babies with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which features a number of possible defects, including deafness. Immunization specialist Beryl Irons of the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) points out that it is therefore crucial to continue immunizing children against rubella, well before they move into the reproductive age group. At a recent workshop, nurses and other health care workers received an update on vaccines in current use and vaccine preventable diseases, as well as information on additional vaccines that are available. The EPI program is in use throughout the world, and in the Caribbean region CAREC ensures that its member countries are kept up to date on immunization issues, and encourages them to follow the recommended immunization schedules. In Montserrat the immunization program is a well-accepted part of local life, and over the years has helped to keep the population healthy. However continued vigilance is always necessary, so workshops such as this are a vital ingredient of a successful immunization program. CAREC, which was formed in 1975, is based in Trinidad and is administered by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which is WHO’s regional office for the Americas. CAREC has twenty-one member countries, comprising the English and Dutch speaking countries of the Caribbean. It is dedicated to improving health and preventing disease in the Caribbean through technical cooperation, service, training and research. q Copyright © 2003-2008 Caribbean Net News. All Rights Reserved. Printed with permission.


Dr. Lockie Johnson (left) and Joe Johnson (right) with members of the community during USM fundraiser.

Joe Johnson explains “Leave your Legacy” campaign. Photos submitted by Lockie and Joe Johnson.

Helping the Community through Education AUC couple volunteers for local university By Paula Distefano

A

merican University of the Caribbean professor of behavioral science, Lockie Johnson, Ph.D., and her husband, director of housing and physical plant, Joe Johnson, believe in education. They are also passionate about the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin. That is why the couple volunteers countless hours of their time to the University of St. Martin (USM) — she as president of the board, and he, as the co-chair of the building committee. And through their efforts and those of others in the community, they were able to raise around $1.6 million for USM — which far exceeded the organizers’ original fundraising target of $1 million, and was something never before seen in the Netherland Antilles. The successful fundraising “Leave your Legacy” campaign, which culminated with a banquet gala at the Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach and Spa Resort on March 29, called on members of the community to become a “friend,” “patron” or “sponsor” of the University. The campaign was boosted with a $100,000 donation early in the year from Scotia Bank, who also sponsored the banquet. In addition to the contribution by Lockie and Joe Johnson, AUC faculty members Sue Atchley, Ph.D., and Albert van der Waag, M.D., as well as AUC represented by Diana Liu, made donations and participated in the fundraiser. “Being a member of this community,” said Lockie Johnson, “is not just coming down to go to school and leaving but it is about leaving a healthy footprint. We can make a positive contribution to St. Maarten. And education is one of the most significant contributions you can make to a developing country.” It is even more crucial, explained Johnson, because of St. Maarten’s impending statehood. “With St. Maarten about to achieve country status, we need a population as educated as possible, and a local university,” she said.

Founded in 1989, the university fulfills a vital role in the community. It is funded mostly by small grants from the government and tuition. There are close to 400 students enrolled in the various programs at USM — Associate in Arts degrees in liberal arts and business, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in education (in conjunction with the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), as well as the non-degree adult education programs. Since 2000, the University has added with UVI, the Master of Arts degree in education and now offers, with the University of Mount Saint Vincent, a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration. The money raised, according to Johnson, will be used toward securing and maintaining accreditation of USM programs and refurbishing classrooms, laboratories and offices, as well as creating a library and other facilities. She said the University’s main goal is to achieve full accreditation both in the United States and the Netherlands by 2010. Achieving accreditation in both countries is a unique phenomenon for any university and represents the multi-cultural makeup of the island itself. To do so, USM must be able to build, furnish and staff a library, develop faculty expertise in certain areas as well as expand faculty and maintain a level of information technology that meets top educational standards. Joe Johnson said AUC has also had a positive relationship with the small university. Since 2002, the Tien Scholar Program, established by the Tien Family has been donating $20,000 yearly to fund scholarships for students at USM. “That donation has built up,” explained Joe Johnson. “There already are 21 Tien scholars working and contributing to the community. It’s a wonderful, outstanding relationship.” AUC has also donated manpower and materials to help build a state-ofthe-art classroom with teleconferencing capabilities, which enables students to participate in classes conducted at the University of the Virgin Islands. The Johnsons plan to continue volunteering for the University and its fundraising efforts. If you would like to contribute, please contact Lockie Johnson at ljohnson@aucmed.edu or Joe Johnson at jjohnson@aucmed.edu. q

AUC CONNECTIONS 35


Traces

Courtesy of the Montserrat Tourist Board by Tanya Burnett

Old Road Bay, Montserrat

36 AUC CONNECTIONS


HELP US GROW

AUC Alumni Association Scholarship Programs http://aucmed.edu/alumniassociation/gift.htm

The Ambassador Scholarship is designed to financially aid AUC students who choose to perform their clinical rotations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Many graduates remember their time overseas as not only one of the best medical learning experiences, but also as a great opportunity to travel and be exposed to different cultures. Please help us grow this wonderful resource for AUC students by making a donation today.Your contribution can make the difference.

The AUC Alumni Association is a notfor-profit organization, which honors the University’s distinguished heritage and fosters lifelong connections and a spirit of loyalty and fraternity among graduates, students, faculty, staff and friends of the school. It is a separate entity from AUC School of Medicine and MEAS, and is governed by a board of directors elected by AUC Alumni.

“Doing my third year in England was one of the best decisions I [made] in medical school. I think that having an experience abroad, whether in Ireland or [England] is a lifetime opportunity for American medical students to be exposed to a different system of learning and practicing medicine.” — Clara Cabrera, M.D. (‘04)


Another magazine is completed... And we’re already thinking about the next one! The editorial team never stops. We are calling for alumni submissions for the upcoming edition of AUC Connections.

Awards, Grants and Publications: If you have been published in a medical journal, written a book or articles within the past year, received awards or honors recently, or are conducting research — we would love to hear from you! Please write to aucconnections@aucmed.edu

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AUC Connections: Summer/Fall 2008