How International Partnerships Pave the way for Student Success
By Lesley Byrne, Vice President, International Student Recruitment at St. George’s University, Grenada
Today, there are many students who want an international education. There is much more to this, however, than merely seeing new places. An international education provides students with valuable exposure to new cultures and people from different backgrounds, enabling them to recognise and embrace diversity. Building a life in a foreign country also teaches students important life skills and is a key step forward in their maturity.
For aspiring doctors who are preparing to devote their lives to the care of others, an international education can be particularly eye-opening. By exchanging ideas and working towards group objectives with fellow students from different places, each student learns how to adjust better, be more flexible and respond smartly to unexpected outcomes - a regular occurrence in the life of a doctor. Patients, moreover, come from all walks of life and need to all be treated with the same compassion and equality. An international education helps to build the right attitude to approach the practice of medicine. We at St. George’s University in Grenada recognize this and are proud of the contribution our international partnerships make to the verifiable success of our students and graduates.
SGU’s unique medical pathways allow students to commence their studies in Grenada, the United Kingdom or India. Thanks to our international partnership with Northumbria University, that commenced in 2007, we have had over 1,700 SGU students earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree and have completed up to 50% of their degree in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Our students on our UK pathway experience small group discussions designed for problem-based learning with excellent preparation for standardized exams such as the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) and UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA). Having this focus on UK-based examinations, whilst studying and living in the same country, helps to add an additional level of clarity to the curriculum.
In association with Ramaiah Group of Institutions, we also have students on an educational pathway, starting their journey to become a doctor in India, at Ramaiah International Medical School. By studying together in India for their first year, the cohort can get to know one another and move to the next stage of their global education together, offering a sense of familiarity, in what can be an otherwise emotional journey. Regularly, we see, that this community built in the first year of study in India can help both students and parents feel at ease with a move abroad, as they no longer feel that students are starting alone. They are supported by like-minded individuals, all working towards the same goal.
This common goal is particularly important when assessing the curriculum in a partnership institution. Lectures, labs, textbooks and exams should all follow the same evidence based, clinically integrated curriculum to ensure students continue to experience a rewarding education with global impact, no matter their location.
In addition to academic learning, the final two years of medical school, in clinical training, help students to be more responsible, accountable, and compassionate, in the development of professional excellence. For us, we have students completing their rotations in some of the most well-known hospitals in the world, with over 70 affiliated hospitals and health centers in the US and UK. This adds to the exceptional diversification of the overall international educational experience.
If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is that healthcare must take a cooperative approach in order to meet the many challenges of a global threat. As more young students opt for international learning pathways, we can build a strong cohort of broad-minded, forward-thinking doctors who can bring quality healthcare to many people and share knowledge on a truly global basis - which is what our world needs if it is to weather future storms.
About the Author
As the Vice President of International Student Recruitment for St. George’s University, Lesley Byrne leads the strategic international enrolment strategy for the School of Medicine.
An entrepreneurial professional with proven success in driving partnerships, teams, strategy, and events in higher education, Lesley has significant expertise in medical school recruitment and delivering best-in-class student experiences. In her current role at SGU she is focused on driving international brand strategy and enhancing visibility of SGU’s programs for regions which include the Middle East, North Africa, Africa, Europe, South Asia, and East Asia. Leveraging a vast network of education professionals, Lesley has overseen the development of a range of marketing and recruitment activities and extended relationships with higher education partners to help bring the value of the SGU School of Medicine education to students around the world.