Dr Marios Loukas, MD, PhD, the Dean of the School of Medicine at St. George’s University, Grenada, addresses the true value of an international medical programme.
Educational institutions have to prepare their medical students to face the realities of their professional world. Universities that are well equipped to offer global perspectives play a vital role in helping students achieve their fullest potential in terms of academic excellence and transferable skills such as communication and teamwork.
The exposure to diverse faculty and peers in the setting of an international university shapes the cognitive and interpersonal skills of students and breaks down the barriers that would otherwise exist in a less diverse setting. A culturally diverse learning environment is essential for teaching, learning, and research, and the educational environment is enhanced and enriched by a true blend of voices and experiences from across all cultures.
A culturally diverse learning environment is essential for teaching, learning, and research
When studying in an international environment, medical students become exposed and comfortable with powerful multicultural experiences that change preconceived perspectives and build maturity. These students are equipped with the assets, tools, and flexibility to provide better patient care by thinking outside of the box, an important skill in the ever-changing medical field. Students attending an international medical school abroad will also become more familiar with the local health concerns, which may differ significantly from the ones they are used to seeing.
At St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine, we have believed in a global outlook towards medical education since our founding in 1976, when we pioneered the concept of international medical education. To this day, we are a medical school with a worldwide mission. SGU draws students, graduates, and faculty from more than 150 countries and has contributed over 19,000 physicians to the global physician workforce. This long, proud, and verifiable history of success is supported by implementing a curriculum that is built on fostering diversity, and one that is taught across the globe. Students at SGU have the opportunity to start their studies in Grenada, the UK, or India, and can complete clinical rotations at one of over 70 affiliated hospitals in the US and UK. Working and learning in these different healthcare systems provides a unique perspective on conventional problems being faced in medicine nowadays.
SGU draws students, graduates, and faculty from more than 150 countries and has contributed over 19,000 physicians to the global physician workforce
By creating an inclusive support network – with international students and faculty being the majority, not the minority – universities instil these international beliefs and offer an invaluable sense of comfort to their students. The process of moving abroad to study can be more relaxed when students are sharing the experience with peers in the same position and are supported by faculty that are also away from home. As each new cohort of future doctors starts at St. George’s University, they are surrounded by like-minded individuals who have chosen to broaden their horizons with an international medical education. These students will set the precedent for our future generations of doctors and join our network of graduates who have practised in more than 50 countries, making them perfectly poised veterans in this rapidly changing world.
The job of a doctor is not only to treat people but to help make society a better place with an understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. International medical schools that fully embrace a global approach to health and education empower students to strive for this throughout their careers. This attitude enables students to be better students, and ultimately, doctors to be better doctors.