Students with Dr. George Silvay (center). From left to right: Douglas Rivera (EBS 5), Marie Zamora (EBS 5), Yulia Kungurova (EBS 5), Karen Yelton (EBS 5), Jonathan Cotto Davila (EBS 5), Michelanthony Rosado- Velazquez (EBS 4), Alexander Valle Feliciano (EBS 5), Mariana Ndrio (EBS 4), Carlos E. Ortiz (EBS 5), Bryce Thalackel (EBS 4), Kristen Scholl (EBS 4), Mark MacGregor (EBS 4), Hermes Gordián Zayas (EBS 5), Ian Cummings (EBS 5), and Thanh Ngoc LE(EBS 5). Photo: UMHS AMSA.


By Kristen Scholl

Earlier this semester, second-year UMHS medical students, all of whom are members of AMSA (American Medical Student Association), had the privilege to attend the 38th Annual International Symposium: Clinical Update in Anesthesiology, Surgery and Perioperative Medicine at the Marriott in St. Kitts. Those who attended would like to thank Dr. George Silvay from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, host of the event, for the invitation extended to students. Not only was Dr. Silvay kind enough to invite students, but he also waived the entrance fee, allowing access to the whole week of lectures and workshops for free.

The UMHS Endeavour attended this informative symposium and spoke to UMHS students about the many things learned from the 76 lectures given by faculty from around the world.

Mariana Ndrio, EBS semester 4 student, the president of UMHS AMSA, had several thoughts on the importance of symposiums.

“In the age of information and innovation, it is imperative for medical students to keep up with the constantly evolving field of medicine and the exponential growth of knowledge,” she said.

In 1950, doctors expected the amount of new information to double gradually every 50 years. But in a recent study published by the Mayo Clinic it was estimated that in 2020 medical knowledge will be doubling every 73 days.  As medical students and future physicians, this fast-paced change of knowledge, as well as the increasing demands to remain up-to-date, can be daunting, yet it is also one of the many privileges that this field offers—a never-ending, all-encompassing human potential for innovation, exploration, novelty, and ultimately betterment of human life and alleviation of suffering.

As William James Mayo said, “The glory of medicine is that it is constantly moving forward, that there is always more to learn. The ills of today do not cloud the horizon of tomorrow, but act as a spur to greater effort.” Our curiosity and enthusiasm, therefore, should be our guiding light in this field. Attending medical conferences and symposia can be a great place to rekindle our innate curiosity, develop an inquiring mind, and practice evidence-based medicine.”


Hermes Gordián Zayas, EBS 5 with Dr. Hilary Grocott. Photo: UMHS AMSA.

The students had the opportunity to attend presentations given by physicians from hospitals all over the world, including Penn State University, The Mayo Clinic, Medical University of Vienna, Yale University School of Medicine, and many more. Not only were students able to attend the lectures, but this valuable experience also offered the chance to network with those physicians that gave said lectures, as well as residents, fellows, and attendings. Those that were lecturing, as well as other physicians in attendance, were very welcoming of our students and were approachable to our students if they had any questions, treating us as equals making the students feel more comfortable and empowered.

What Students Learned at 38th Annual International Symposium

“The symposium was an educationally enriching one,” said Alexander Valle Felciano, EBS 5 student at UMHS.” It made me see how much we have learned in the last year and a half of studies in medicine and even more, it made me understand how much we need to get where the speakers of the event are. At first it was somewhat intimidating, because I was surrounded by doctors with ample experience in their respective fields. However, the treatment by them was a very kind one and made me feel like one of them. I will take this experience as motivation for where I want to go and how I want to use this knowledge that we are acquiring.”

This was a chance for students to be able to learn about techniques and procedures that are currently being practiced by physicians and the findings that these physicians have researched and practiced in order to improve these techniques. Not only were students able to learn from physicians from a clinical standpoint; students were given the ability to take what they have learned in their basic science classes and apply it to the clinical setting.

EBS 3 student Roshan Mategaonkar was thrilled at this possibility to incorporate his learning.

“The PCSK9 Monoclonal Antibodies for treatment of Atherosclerosis in Dr. Allen Unger’s presentation was in our Biochemistry and Immunology class. What ‘sunk in’ was the content being learned was previously on Block exams or in studying for STEP 1. Drug names stood out for me in Dr. Gregory Nuttall’s presentation as we are currently focusing on the mechanism of action of anesthetics, which helped reinforce the clinical use of the drugs that were covered in lecture just a few days before.”

Not only was this a great opportunity for our students to be able to attend the conference but it was also encouraging for those in attendance because they were able to understand the topics being discussed in each presentation. As students continue throughout their semesters in the basic science program, they may start to feel overwhelmed or feel that some of the topics being taught won’t apply to them while in a clinical setting or even be unable to understand how the topic could be applied in the clinical setting.

Having the opportunity to attend the conference Hermes Gordián Zayas, an EBS 5 UMHS student, said, “Participating in the Symposium was an excellent experience. Being there and being able to understand most of the topics discussed was almost a reality check. It showed me that not only I am learning the material, but that I am able to fully understand it when other physicians are discussing it. This experience has motivated me even more to continue to work hard and follow my dreams. No matter the challenges that will be presented in the future, I can still be able to reach my goals if I continue to work hard and believe in myself. Apart from that, the presentations were very interesting and educational. The doctors who were presenting treated us like one of their colleagues and were very accessible if any of us approached them. It is a concept that has been taught to us in UMHS since the first semester. Another presentation that got my attention was the one presented by Dr. O’Brien which discussed new treatments after cardiac surgery to prevent Atrial Fibrillations. It got my attention because luckily, we were just taught that topic of atrial fibrillation in our Pathology 2 lecture the week before. I am grateful for this experience. I will surely remember it and will probably be talking about it in the future when I reach my goals.”

38th Annual International Symposium Participation for UMHS Students

Students also had the opportunity to participate in the workshops that included Ultrasound Guided Regional Block, Transthoracic Echocardiography, and POCUS (Point-of-Care Ultrasound). Several students were able to attend these lectures and can a hands-on learning experience from these workshops.

“The best part was the “Regional Anesthesia Nerve Block” where we had (Drs). Meg Rosenblatt, Yan Lai, Benjamin Salter and Bob Williams. I had a hands-on experience and training with the Ultrasound in the POCUS workshop with Dr. Theresa Gelzinis who was very approachable and friendly to us students,” said Roshan Mategaonkar, an EBS 3 student.

Regarding the chance to participate in the workshop, EBS 4 student Mariana Ndrio said: “The Symposium via the various presentations and workshops stressed the increasing importance of the ultrasound as a powerful diagnostic tool encountered in almost every medical specialty and setting–from emergency departments to operating rooms.  In 1988 the Journal of Radiology, characterized ultrasound as ‘the stethoscope of the future’ and indeed nowadays its usage is becoming as common as a stethoscope, especially with the rise of point-of-care ultrasonography for focused and bedside physical examinations. It is imperative for medical students to familiarize with this tool and it is even more exciting that UMHS is currently one of the medical schools that is incorporating hands-on ultrasound training in its curricula, under the guidance of Dr. Fakoya as early as the first semester of studies.”


Roshan Mategaonkar, EBS 3, learning about POCUS from Dr. Patris Almasi. Photo: UMHS AMSA.

‘Shared Decision Making in the Perioperative Setting’

One lecture that seemed to be a highlight for most students was “Shared Decision Making in the Perioperative Setting: A Complex Multi-Faceted Construct,” given by Dr. Hilary Grocott from the University of Manitoba, St. Boniface Hospital. In Dr. Grocott’s lecture, he discussed the importance of including patients’ values, concerns, preferences and beliefs into consideration when deciding on the treatment that the patient is going to be receiving. Several students felt that this particular lecture left an impact on them. Dr. Grocott noted that by utilizing shared decision making, it can help increase the patients’ long-term feeling of independence, as opposed to those patients that did not feel like they were involved in the decision-making process had long-term effect of feeling like they had lost their independence.

“I found this conference extremely interesting because the respect and opinion of the patient is something extremely important in medicine, but it is often forgotten. Seeing how Dr. Grocott took 20 minutes explaining the importance of doctor-patient communication, it was something that I did not expect but that I enjoyed and hope to implement in my future,” said Alexander Valle Feliciano, EBS 5 student at UMHS.

Another student, Hermes Gordián Zayas, EBS 5, also commented about the lecture, saying “the presentation that Dr. Grocott gave on Shared Decision Making was excellent and it talked about the importance in the involvement of patients at the time to decide for their treatment etc. A concept that has been taught to us in UMHS since the first semester.”

In closing we would like to thank Dr. Silvay for the opportunity for UMHS students to attend this conference. It was encouraging for students to be able to see past the studying and classwork and glimpse what the future can hold for each student in the various fields they decide to pursue. Attending symposiums and various conferences allows each individual to expand his or her knowledge of the current techniques that can improve patient care and recovery. Attending these events is something that we as medical students should pursue more often in order to diversify ourselves in the various fields of medicine, even if it is not going to be the specific specialty that one chooses to pursue. Overall, we as medical students should be striving to attend as many conferences and symposiums as possible to not only gain more knowledge but to branch out into other fields that we may not have considered before.

Kristen Scholl is a second-year UMHS medical student who has interests in orthopedic medicine and sports medicine. She is also a senior UMHS Media Ambassador in St. Kitts.


About UMHS:

Built in the tradition of the best U.S. universities, the University of Medicine and Health Sciences focuses on individual student attention, maintaining small class sizes and recruiting high-quality faculty. We call this unique approach, “personalized medical education,” and it’s what has led to our unprecedented 96% student retention rate, and outstanding residency placements across the USA and Canada. UMHS is challenging everything you thought you knew about Caribbean medical schools.




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