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Elective Experiences Prof. David Picou— A Global Revolutionary

Beyond Office Hours

Looking Back At Medical School

Med Sci News & More

No. 1 Sixth Avenue, Xavier Street Extension, Orchard Gardens, Chaguanas, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Tel: (868) 671-5160



THE PULSE A publication of the T&T Medical Students’ Association ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Prof David Picou Prof Surujpal Teelucksingh Mr Gaston Francis Dr Satish Maharaj Kavita Manohar-Maharaj Hadiyah Khan Amit Ramrattan Dominic Del Pino Sheena Sookhai NEWSLETTER COMMITTEE Taureef Mohammed Irfaan Ali Patrick Edward Chin-Kong Nicole Maharaj Mateus Fernandes





Student Life Looking back at medical school Del Pino’s Year One Experience

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Fourth-year Electives Pathology in Beautiful Scotland Infectious Disease in Incredible India London Calling!

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Life’s Work Prof David Picou—a global revolutionary


Beyond Office Hours Prof Teelucksingh on medical school


Med Sci News Jherome Alexander—gone but not forgotten Gaston retires Pictorial review of 2012-2013

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COVER DESIGN by Irfaan Ali

Interested in joining the TTMSA Newsletter committee? Have comments, articles, photos, or news that you would like to share? Email us:




UPCOMING EVENTS FOR 2013-2014 FUN DAY  BLOOD DRIVE  BANQUET INTRA-FACULTY FOOTBALL  Fundraising concert  UWI Health Fair  Canned food drive  Picture Day  Scavenger Hunt  Vintage games night  Movie night 






Welcome to Med Sci! Greetings to all and welcome back to a new academic year! On behalf of my executive and the T&T Medical Students’ Association (TTMSA) family, I especially welcome the newest members of our student fraternity—the Class of 2018. You have endured and mastered your entrance levels, and have proven to be the cream of the crop. It is our prayer that you glean every ounce of enjoyment in the midst of your learning experience over the next five years. The TTMSA promises to be with you every step of the way. The TTMSA represents all MBBS students. Our priority is to meet the needs of our members, whether mentally, socially, psychologically, financially or academically, to ensure the holistic well-being of everyone. Some of the most brilliant and creative minds in T&T, the region and even the wider world are at Mt Hope. I believe that as a student body, we can be the catalyst to take our School of Medicine to the top of the world. Let the popular saying “to whom much is given much is expected” be our motto as we proceed through

medical school. As medical students, we have not only been blessed with the capacity to learn, but more importantly, we have been granted the privilege of being craftsmen in the art that is medicine. The power rests in us to paint the world around us, using the knowledge and skills that we acquire at this institution. This year promises to be a very exciting year. As we venture into the

“I believe that as a student body, we can be the catalyst to take our School of Medicine to the top of the world.”

new academic year, I urge everyone to adopt an active role in the TTMSA, rendering your skills and resources for the betterment of everybody. Remember, we will become doctors for the rest of our lives, but we are only medical students for a short time, so make the most of it! I wish you all success this year in everything you put your hand to. May God bless you all and our organisation. —Erron Ramdass TTMSA President




Looking back at medical school DR SATISH MAHARAJ Graduate of the Class of 2013 Monday, September 1, 2008, was an eventful day at Mount Hope. On that day, over one hundred students entered the campus to make up the MBBS Class of 2013 – at that point the largest intake in the faculty’s history. For the first time, we took our seats in Amphitheatre A and were introduced to a strange system named “PBL”. In retrospect, I can surely say that I had little idea of what I was getting into. It is difficult to find an analogy of the medical school journey, but perhaps World War II can compare favourably, particularly the words of Sir Winston Churchill at the start: “…nothing but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering.” Now that I have warned you up front, I can add: medical school, although it was extremely challenging, was amazing and unique in many ways. My first year was an introduction to the immense volume of information we had to study. What made it most challenging was the language of medicine. ‘Upward’ became ‘cephalad’ and raising your hand to answer in PBL was really ipsilateral abduction. The human body became a complex system of pathways and locations—a concept not given much thought before medical school. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, one had to learn the ‘normal’ to understand the pathologic. To explain what I mean, forward to two years later on the Paediatric Surgery Ward. None of us could remember which sphincter was responsible for continence. We were scolded: “So you all defecate every day and never give any thought to what it is you’re actually doing?” With such a lack of thinking, how could we begin to understand Hirschsprung’s. By year two I realised that I could not learn it all and the goal was to pass OCTOBER


exams. That year Mt Hope got a new getic and thrilled about the wards. Aladdition to the line up of annual concerts, though that thrill would wear off, workthe MEDS Divali Play, TTOPS Fashion ing on the wards was infinitely better Show and MSCC Christmas Play being than the preclinical years. This included post call rounds at 5am with Prof Seejoined by the IVCF Easter Production. mungal, 12 hour Whipple’s with Mr Year three could be summed up in one word: burnout. It was (is) an inevitable problem. It was evident that few students bothered to look in the mirror before coming to school. Every four to eight weeks we were thrown from one clerkship into another and expected to master the subject matter in days. Despite this rigo ro us schedule, it was great to finally use basic sciences Satish with friends from his fourth year elective knowledge to Maharaj and many late nights in PED solve clinical scenarios. While our enchasing the infamous sign-off sheet. ergy seemed to be lost forever, there was no lack of enthusiasm on the part of Prof We were divided into groups which Monteil, whose immunology lectures would last for the rest of school. Here one truly realised how diverse medical “Medical school, alschool was. Within each group were different nationalities, ages, religions, though it was extremely allergies, learning styles, and of course an array of personalities. That array of challenging, was amazing personalities included the classical medical students: the gunner, the one with and unique in many ways.” photographic memory, the backstabber, the limer, the I-never-study-er, and the average students. While what happens in Mt Hope must stay in Mt Hope, I can remain legendary. say with certainty that at the end one Fourth year brought the wards and learned to communicate, perform under their accompanying unspoken rules. Nostress, work within a group, and resolve body seemed to quite know the origin of conflicts. These skills are essential, not the custom, but everyone now wore shiny just for orals and OSCEs, but more so in gold nametags, despite hardly anyone functioning as a doctor in a third world carrying the UWI ID as lecturer of the setting. year Dr Bodkyn noted. I believe the secret to medical school During my first rotation, I was ener-

STUDENT LIFE is this: it’s not about raw intelligence but rather sheer perseverance and staying true to the reason you started. Medicine goes beyond being a profession. As the Class of 2013 motto stated, “not just a science but also an art.” Cheers to all of my fellow class mates


who are now interning, and best wishes to the new Class of 2018. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and although it will at times be extremely stressful, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it. At all times you must stay positive and persist. Becoming a doctor entails long hours,


unparalleled commitment and at times undesirable situations but the reward of easing a person’s distress is more than enough.

Del Pino’s first year experience Dominic Del Pino, 19 and a former student of Presentation College, San Fernando, started medical school last year. A talented footballer and an equally gifted student, Dominic quickly won the admiration of his classmates through his sterling performance on the football field and his academic prowess. In an interview with The Pulse, Dominic spoke about his first year.

Q: Why did you choose medicine? A: I chose medicine because of my pas-

swered correctly and felt on top of the world afterwards.

sion to serve the sick. I wanted to meaningfully help those who are ill and make their experience less burdensome.

What surprised you most in first year? The amount of free time you have as a year one medical student surprised me. The class times aren’t demanding and once you balance yourself properly you can have a lot of time on your hands.

What did you enjoy most in year one? I enjoyed the all-round experience at Mt Hope. When I started I thought it would have only been academics. However, year one medical school turned out to be much more. Participating in a host of social activities, a well-organised football competition, religious groups and a damn good fun day provided the perfect balance between extra-curricular activities and academics. Do you have any memorable moments? My most memorable moment was when I was called out in class to answer a question in front of the class—which had about 350 people—in a pharmacology seminar. It was nerve-wracking but I an-

“When I started I thought it would have only been academics. However, year one medical school turned out to be much more.”


Did you experience any difficulties? The only difficulty I encountered in year one was studying for end-ofsemester exams in the second semester. In the week leading up to exams, it seemed impossible to cover and internalise the work. So my advice to the new year ones is to develop the habit of studying everyday to prevent the work from piling up.

Facebook: IVCF Mt Hope




Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Pathology in Beautiful Scotland KAVITA MANOHAR-MAHARAJ

“The organisation of the

My family once lived in Edinburgh. I was too young to remember. My mother spoke glowingly of it. The Royal Infirmary received particular praise, since my grandfather had a leg amputated there. The care and attention he received during his rehabilitation were things I always heard of. When the time came to choose an elective, The University of Edinburgh was the obvious choice. Though my first choice was not available I was offered a place in Pathology at the new Royal Infirmary. At the very start, I felt as though I had been adopted by the entire department. My supervisor, Dr. Duvall, arranged for me to have oneon-one tutoring with nearly every pathologist there. They were a genial bunch, pleased to show me the ropes. I spent much time with the post-graduate students and was invited to their teaching sessions in the hospital across town. The organisation of the lab and the processing of samples were particularly impressive. Things ran like clockwork. A point system was assigned, based on time spent per slide. The aim was to spend no more than six points, or six minutes per slide, twelve if teaching, in order to ensure that enough work was done during the day. Results were promptly delivered, OCTOBER


lab and the processing of samples were particularly impressive. Things ran like clockwork.”

Kavita at Greyfriars Bobby Memorial, Edinburgh, Scotland

or at least I never saw anyone come chasing them. I learned a great deal about pathology and specimen processing, but I was highly encouraged to explore Scotland as well. I climbed the Scott Monument, toured Edinburgh Castle, had tea aboard

Her Majesty’s retired yacht, and hiked to Arthur’s seat, the tallest point in Edinburgh, all amidst a friendly, cosmopolitan crowd. One glorious weekend, my parents and I drove through the Highlands to the misty Isle of Skye, where we toured Dunvegan Castle, legendary home of Clan MacLeod. On the way home we took the train across the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the stunning arched bridge to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Edinburgh may be a longer way off than London. Scotland may be a few degrees colder than England. But the sights and sounds are more than worth the trip and the people are as warm as the Caribbean Sea. I will treasure my elective experience all the days of my life. I hope some of you choose to go see why.




Taj Mahal, India

Infectious diseases in Incredible India AMIT RAMRATTAN I did my elective at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India, under the Department of Medicine at Kasturba Hospital. Stories of amazing experiences and academic nurturing from my senior colleagues who conducted their elective at Kasturba compelled me to pursue my elective there. My four-week experience in India was astounding. It was a productive learning experience, as I was exposed to a variety of cases. We read about many infectious diseases and their presentations in books, but at the Indian hospital, I saw them. A handful of the cases I saw included: Brucellosis, Lyme’s disease, pulmonary aspergillosis, pulmonary tuberculosis, a rare case of meningitis caused by Elizabethkingia bacteria, Wegner’s granulomatosis, and the usual lifestyle diseases. The Kasturba Hospital is a private institution. Work was done on time, and diagnoses by professors were usually accurate. Doctors did not perform much blood work because each ward had a phlebotomist. A computerized system, which communicated blood and radiological results to doctors, made following up results easy. Because of their light ward work, doctors had spare time to read relentlessly on the cases they came across; this explained their accurate diagnoses.

Medical training was also quite different at the Kasturba College. Students were allowed to go on the wards to clerk and examine patients as early as second year. Student life was limited to classes which involved lectures and ward teaching. Unlike our system in T&T, students were not obligated to perform hands-on activities such as blood taking, and setting up intravenous access and nasogastric tubes. This made medical training at Kasturba less onerous than in T&T.

“Doctors had spare time to read relentlessly on the cases they came across; this explained their accurate diagnoses.” From my experience, India is a very safe country. The only danger I encountered was being on the roads during rushhour. Travelling via rickshaw to and from the hospital everyday was an exhilarating experience. During my stay, I had time to build many memories outside of the hospital. I visited temples, zoos, gardens and beaches which were all beautiful. I enjoyed a wide variety of Indian cuisine,

although it was very spicy. The native people seemed very happy and their interactions were different from Trindadians. For the first time, I saw guy best friends holding hands while walking. In a few water parks I visited, I was treated to a Bollywood scene where people danced to their favourite Indian songs openly and cheerfully. I would recommend others to do their elective in India or another country, just to experience something different. My stay in India was undeniably a lifechanging experience and I definitely would like to visit again. Amit at Lalbagh Gardens, Bangalore




Natural History Museum, London, England

LONDON CALLING! HADIYAH KHAN I chose King’s College, London, to do my elective because it is a partnership institution of the University of the West Indies (UWI), whereby students from our university are given preference to do their elective there. It is also a well-known medical school, internationally recognised as an institution with an enriching and stimulating environment. At the time, I had a particular interest in reproductive medicine, so I chose to do a sub-specialty in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I was assigned to St Thomas' Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London. From day one, my schedule was packed with tutorials, lectures, and clinics. While working in an embryology lab, I observed, firsthand, egg collections and incubation of embryos by highlyqualified staff. I also got exposed to the female mutilation clinic which was an eye-opener. I saw unexpected things and learnt about the cultural practices, which the authorities in England are trying viciously to clamp down on, that led to the cruel practice and the help available to affected women. As a student from a developing country where specialty areas are limited, I OCTOBER


appreciated the vastness of medicine at King's. The teaching was quite impressive and the hospital was equipped with the most advanced equipment. Lecturers were friendly and topics covered were

“London was a rude awakening of the huge world beyond T&T.” supplemented with tutorials. I did not feel short-changed in anyway. However, because of the short time, it was difficult to absorb all of it while adapting to being away from home. London was a rude awakening of the huge world beyond T&T. At first, the cold weather was very unnerving.

Gloomy skies constantly reminded me that I was far from home. After a few weeks, I got accustomed to the weather which felt comfortable, and even enjoyable. Academics aside, I had the opportunity to meet other students who warmly welcomed me as a Caribbean and Muslim student. In exploring London, I saw people of every religion and race, various fashion trends, and an endless range of cuisines. I visited the Natural History Museum which had five floors and a section on the history of medicine. On my way to the hospital, I passed the famous Big Ben and the London Eye. The view of the Thames River from St Thomas' Hospital was breathtaking. London has something for everyone. If you are enjoy shopping, you must visit Oxford Street and Westfield Mall. For a picture-perfect moment, check out Regent's Park, Green Park, and of course, Buckingham Palace. An efficient and easy-to-learn train system made travelling extremely easy. I would definitely recommend other students to choose London for their elective. For me, this experience was a small step toward reproductive medicine and a huge step into the wider world.




LIFE’S WORK Prof Picou—a global revolutionary When Dr Eric Williams, T&T’s first Prime Minister, made the call for a medical sciences complex to be established at Mt Hope, Prof David Picou, now 86 and retired, was among the first to respond. In 1978, after spending about 20 years at the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit (TMRU) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica—where he conducted research that revolutionised the treatment of child malnutrition, globally— Prof Picou returned to T&T to head the committee that was responsible for realising William’s vision. This is Prof Picou’s story as told to TAUREEF MOHAMMED during an interview at Prof Picou’s Diego Martin home. Early days I was born on March 23, 1927, at my home on Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain. My father, although Trinidadian, had French roots—hence my last name ‘Picou’—and my mother was Chinese. I came from humble beginnings; my father worked at Canning’s factory and my mother was a housewife. I attended Tranquility Boys Government School and then went on to Queen’s Royal College where I passed the Higher School Certificate in the sciences. As a QRC student, I had the opportunity to be part of the first troop of air scouts in T&T. I also got to operate the scoreboard at the Queen’s Park Oval where I had the pleasure of seeing Rupert Tang Choon, one of the few Chinese cricketers to play for the Trinidadian colony. OCTOBER


I liked architecture, but my parents desired for me to do medicine, so I obeyed, as was the norm in those days. After completing high school in 1945, I taught at QRC for one year before heading to Long Island University, New York, to pursue a bachelor’s in premedical sciences. In 1949, I was accepted for medicine at the University College of the West Indies (UCWI), Mona, Jamaica, a subsidiary of the University of London. Medical school in Jamaica The first university in the Englishspeaking Caribbean, UCWI, now called the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, had 72 students in 1949. My class, the second set of UCWI medical students, was a group of merely 26 people, of which three were Trinidadians, Prem-

chand Ratan, Stanley Lutchman (deceased) and me. In contrast to the multi-milliondollar, high-tech, concrete structures at UWI campuses today, all the buildings at UCWI, Mona, during my time, were wooden and resembled little huts. The library was tiny and unsuitable for studying. Students stayed in wooden barracks which were initially built for people who were considered a threat to society during World War II. The Bachelor’s of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) programme was six years, the first year comprising foundation science courses. Having a strong science background, I voluntarily conducted classes during first year for students who did not have a strong science background.




A global revolution in malnutrition Two years of preclinical courses followed. I found physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology to be more interesting than anatomy which to me was pure memorisation. Young David Picou Medical textbooks weren’t available in the Caribbean and there was no to order them from, so we had to import all our books, as well as a life-size skeleton, from HK Lewis, a popular London-based book-

“In contrast to the multimillion-dollar, high-tech, concrete structures at UWI campuses today, all the

the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Here, my interest in understanding how things work and why they worked grew. I enjoyed clinical medicine, but I wanted to learn more—research was my calling. During the 1950s, child malnutrition was rampant across the Caribbean, and indeed across most of the developing world, killing 30 to 40 per cent of those it affected. The Medical Research Council, London, had recently established the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit (TMRU) in Jamaica and the Caribbean provided the ideal opportunity for research. So in 1959, I joined the TMRU where I spent the next 20 years. Why were children dying from malnutrition within 24 to 48 hours after admission to the ward? What were we doing that pushed these children over the edge? These were the questions that faced us at the TMRU. After extensive work, we found children died because we disturbed their state of adaptation by placing them on a full diet. Feeding the child normally, we real-

buildings at UCWI, Mona, during my time, were wooden and resembled little huts.” seller. The new University Hospital of the West Indies, which opened around 1952, was the only purpose-built teaching hospital in Jamaica. In groups of four or five, we made our way through the wards. In my final year, I was privileged to be chosen as a locum for an intern for three months. After graduating in 1955, I returned home for the first time in six years. The world of research I always had an interest in children and in 1957 I received a Rockefeller Travel Fellowship to study paediatrics at

Prof Picou holding the WHO manual which was based largely on his work at the TMRU .

ised, caused an overload and retention of sodium due to impairment of the intracellular sodium pumps which led to heart failure. And thus, at the TMRU in Mona, Jamaica, the global revolution in treating child malnutrition started. We devised a regime which involved placing the child on a maintenance diet, while gradually increasing protein and caloric intake. Simultaneously, we corrected electrolyte imbalances, treated infections with antibiotics, and monitored trace metals. We tested the regime—which was published in several reputable medical journals—in other Jamaican hospitals, and it worked. As part of a Caricom-led team , I travelled throughout the Caribbean to introduce the new regime. My proudest life achievement was in the offing. The World Health Organisation (WHO) invited me to Geneva to help devise a similar plan to treat malnutrition, globally. Based on our research at the TMRU, we developed a treatment and management manual which was adapted by the WHO and popular medical humanitarian organisations like Doctors Without Borders. Millions of lives were saved worldwide, particularly in areas of drought and famine. In 1981, about twenty years after the research first began at the TMRU, the WHO published the manual, “The treatment and management of severe proteinenergy malnutrition,” which was distributed and used globally. Building a medical sciences complex in T&T Around 1976, Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams indicated his intention to establish a medical complex in T&T, comprising schools of dentistry, veterinary medicine, human medicine, and nursing. Without hesitation, I suggested to the Faculty of Medicine of the UWI to seize the opportunity to revolutionise the way medicine was taught in the region, and




Mt Hope—a new era in medical education in 1976, I was appointed chairman of a seven-member university committee that was responsible for developing the concept of the medical complex. Determined to place the school at the forefront of medical education, the committee visited leading institutions in Europe and North America, including McMaster University in Canada, Yale University in the United States, and the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. After much deliberation, we submitted the “FAST Report” which defined the philosophy of the complex to the UWI.

Gems of wisdom from Prof Picou “Self-discipline is the key to success. It is even more important for today’s youth because of all the other enticements out there. Keep your goal— medicine—in front of you.” “Spend most of your time on the wards because that is where you learn medicine. If you know your way around a patient, you will pass final exams. You do learn a lot from reading books, but that is a secondary source of information in medicine.” “Students should be exposed to the wards much earlier. Although they may not understand much, they will get accustomed to the atmosphere and learn that patients aren’t just there for doctors to work on, but they are human beings

who have emotions.” “Have role models. In our time, we wanted to be just like our teachers, lecturers and professors.” “Stay in your country and work on subjects that affect your own country and region.” OCTOBER


Total didactic teaching would be a thing of the past, the report highlighted. Instead, self-directed, problem-based learning in small groups would be promoted. In keeping with the philosophy of learning in small groups, we suggested building more seminar and tutorial rooms rather than many large lecture theatres. On returning to T&T in 1978, I was selected to head the Governmentappointed Mt Hope Medical Complex Task Force which was charged with the responsibility to make William’s vision a reality. Championing research to the end In 1986, after 10 years of detailed planning and construction, the medical complex, now known as the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), was completed and since 1989, it has been the location of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the UWI, St Augustine. After completing my work in establishing the EWMSC, I was appointed director at the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), a position I held until 2002 when I retired.

“Total didactic teaching would be a thing of the past... Instead, self-directed, problem-based learning in small groups would be promoted.” Our aim at the CHRC was to encourage, guide, and support governments, doctors and other health professionals in conducting research. Although research has improved over the years, I still believe, as a country, we don’t understand the importance of research in any field, whether it is medicine, agriculture, or business. My young budding doctors, clinical medicine is not the only option; there is a world of research right here in T&T and the Caribbean waiting to be explored—it’s yours for the taking, go for it!





Prof Teelucksingh on medical school As a Professor of Medicine, the campus orator of the UWI, the leader of several projects –both on a national and regional scale –and, of course, a practising medical doctor, Professor Surujpal Teelucksingh functions as efficiently as the latest Intel microprocessor chip. However, medical school and medical training was quite different for our dynamic professor, as he found it difficult and never imagined that he could complete it. ate work in Edinburgh, Scotland. I got the opportunity to study for a Phd as well and completed it in the time I was there. I spent 4 years in Edinburgh which is a beautiful place. SATISH MAHARAJ TAUREEF MOHAMMED


:Could you tell us about your life before medicine?


: I attended Presentation College, Chaguanas—the only Presentation, all the others are imitation. After I finished A’ levels it was customary in my time to take a year out. I taught at Hillview for that year. Why medicine? I would not have chosen anything else. It was medicine or nothing. Could you tell us about your medical school experience? All of us had to go to Mona Jamaica, at least for the basic sciences. POS was the only teaching hospital in Trinidad, so I spent two years there. Following undergraduate training, we had to do two years internship, as stipulated then by the ministries of health. Following internship, I started postgraduate work and completely my postgradu-



Were you as dynamic in medical school as you are now? It’s inevitable to escape your personality. I suppose I’ve always been a multitasker. But medical school for me was very very focused. I found medical school and medical training very challenging. In fact I’ll go so far to say that I found it difficult. When I started medicine, I never imagined I could complete it. I felt tremendous pressure, especially at the

“Your learning curve is steepest in the first 2-3 years of medicine...If you overcome those first three years you can swim in any water.” basic sciences. I couldn’t deal with diversions in the early years, so I absorbed myself into the subject.

Individuals have to know themselves and their abilities. As much as diversions can help some people, it can hurt others. There is no point being good at everything else and failing your medical courses. Your base must be medicine and the diversions must add value when they can. The flourish and the blossoming occurred during the clinical years. I was happy to be in the clinical environment. My message to basic science students (year 1s & 2s) is that your learning curve is steepest in the first two to three years of medicine. It’s like being thrown in the deepest of deep ends. That’s where the challenge is. If you overcome those first three years you can swim in any water. Don’t lose focus in those first 3 years. What drives you to practise medicine in a country commonly described as thirdworld, corrupt, and lawless? All the deficiencies you have pointed to are opportunities. The greater the apparent weaknesses, the greater the opportunities. And I’m sincere when I say that. I have ten projects on my table right now that are arising from those weaknesses. I will not denigrate and diminish our country for what might be said scathingly with limited agendas. A country is a biologic being just like our body—it’s changing and adapting and we have to be part of that and




Prof Teelucksingh: Learn well and rewards will follow contribute to that. It’s a great boon to practice medicine among people who you know and understand. You are very lucky to be in a place where you can identify with the soul and spirit of the people. I find that particularly invigorating. In fact that is one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do. You mentioned in your orientation lecture to first-year students that doctors and students should ‘practice what they preach.’ Can you elaborate? It’s to avoid the conundrum of double standards. Every doctor should understand how valued their role in society is. It reeks of double standards and it undervalues the good work that most doctors do when we are seen to not practice what we tell society to do. For example, I don’t think it’s fair for doctors to tell patients they should stop smoking when they themselves smoke. In the same vein, it’s unfair for doctors to tell patients they must exercise regularly and they themselves aren’t exercising. What do you see in the future of healthcare for current students? I do feel that the next horizon in healthcare, which will impact very positively on the health of the nation, is in looking at maternal health in a serious way. I refer specifically to the issue of dealing with obesity and diabetes in pregnancy. Much of our infant mortality may be due to undetected diabetes.

Annually, there are 15-20,000 deliveries in Trinidad. That’s our production line for the future. We must give that next generation special care. That’s my personal wish. I think maternal health, child health and care of the elderly are the things that should be on our radar.

It lowers us when we want to achieve rewards without the requisite amount of work and perhaps that is

What are the main challenges for medical students at the UWI? I do think that our undergraduate programme is very strong. One immediate issue might be the large numbers of students and the relative paucity of clinical spaces. I do feel we have to be creative in how we expose students to the clinical environment. That’s engaging my department right now and we are thinking of creative ways of doing that. I do feel that technology would provide a part solution. What disappointments do you have in our generation? What I am disappointed in is purely generational. I do feel the current generation, and this is a valued judgment, is probably a little bit too materialistic. I see them requiring rewards too quickly. There can’t be rewards without work. What are your hopes for our generation? I see lots of good things in students. Every

what I meant when I said materialism has taken over.” generation produces its own outstanding lot. I never underestimate the potential of any given generation. The process of learning is slow and insidious. You’ve got to do it well and the rewards will follow. It lowers us when we want to achieve rewards without the requisite amount of work and perhaps, that is what I meant when I said materialism has taken over. There should be no jealousy against somebody who works hard and achieves. I do feel that you all have the resources and the skills and the ability to be better than this generation. I have no doubt that you can do that. (reprinted from The Pulse 2012)




Med Sci News:

JHEROME ALEXANDER—GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN SHEENA SOOKHAI Class of 2016 Jherome, the class of 2016 is incomplete and the halls of Mt Hope will never be the same without you. Being the captivating person that you were, you left us with a gap that can’t be filled. You were an amazing friend, and classmate. You always greeted everyone with an innocent smile. You were approachable and never refused to lend an ear, offer genuine advice, tough but truthful, or help with the mental exhaustion suffered through each course. You were unique in your way of thinking and outlook on life but no matter what, nothing could ruin your cheerful mood.

Anyone who had PBL with you knows you were nothing short of genius but equally humble. It was captivating to listen to you express your thoughts and see you at work—a genius destined for great things. You were an amusing person who spoke the blatant truth and had the guts to say what no-one else could. You were your own person and refused to sway according to the opinions of others. You’ve left The Class of 2016 and the Faculty of Medical Sciences with a hole that could never be filled but we have the memories of the time you had with us. We shall see you soon Jher. R.I.P Jherome, gone way too soon but you will never be forgotten. FLASHBACK On Wednesday July 17, 2013, Jherome Alexander, 20, drowned in a swimming pool at the bpTT Mayaro Resource Centre. According to reports, investigators viewed footage from a closed circuit television camera at the centre and found that Jherome got into difficulty and went under. He resurfaced minutes later and was discovered by friends. Speaking to reporters after the incident, Jherome’s aunt, Denise Alexander, said: “He was an amazing person, excelling since primary school. His dream was to become a doctor and he was working towards that. He was active in church and a member of several clubs in the area.”






After more than 20 years at Mt Hope…

GASTON RETIRES After more than twenty years working as a mortician at Mt Hope, Mr Gaston Francis, commonly known as ‘Gaston,’ has retired. In an interview with The Pulse, Gaston looked back at his time at Mt Hope, working under the Faculty of Medical Sciences since 1990. Asked what he enjoyed most about his job, he said: “My greatest joy was the students. It gave me a great joy in my heart to help them. I liked how they approached school—they were respectable, disciplined and showed a lot of kindness.” Although he threatened many students with his infamous quote “I will report you to the dean,” Gaston said he never had problems with students. “This was just a joke to frighten students. I never reported anybody to the dean,” he pointed out.

“My greatest joy was the students. It gave me a great joy in my heart to help them.”

Saying that working as a mortician allowed him to learn a lot about human anatomy, Gaston added, “I learned about embalming through the femoral artery and how you cut the femoral vein for blood to flow out. I learned about head and neck, the internal jugular vein, brachial plexus and vagus nerve.” Gaston said his job also taught him to respect the dead, and he called on students to do the same. “You need to understand how to treat human beings. You must treat dead bodies with respect and love, just as you treated them before when they were alive.” A father of seven and grandfather of four, Gaston had a final piece of advice for students: “Learn well and hard and all success will come after.” All the best Mr Gaston!!





Members of the Class of 2013 and members of the TTMA at a celebratory dinner hosted by the TTMA in honour of the graduating class

Giving a child a reason to smile:)

Amrita Gobin puts a smile on a child’s face at the MEDS’ Annual Paeds Treat at the Mt Hope Children’s Hospital




of the winners e m o c e b to ed Staff ament 5 defeat 1 0 2 ll Tourn a f b o t o s o s F la C y lt e Th ra-Facu MSA Int 2012 TT




of 2012—2013 ! e bag at a time n o t n e m n o ir v e en Cleaning up th

Battling it out on the field

h mmittee at a beac Co t en nm ro vi En MSA Members of the TT . coast of Trinidad st ea e th g on The Classes of 2015 and 2017 battle it out in the al clean-up

semi-final of the 2012 TTMSA football tournament

Raising breast cancer awareness

ime! t a f hale o w a g Havin

t the

17 of 20 s s a l eC ay s of th ual Fun D r e b Mem A’s Ann S TTM

a g fun havin

Students of Med Sci join MHIS in commemorating ‘Pink Hijab Day.’

The Pulse (October 2013)  

A publication of the Trinidad & Tobago Medical Students Association.

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