December 10, 2023

Peter Binose: Were Saint Vincent’s apartment owners fooled again? How about the students?

LREdited_DSC_6338FixedBy Peter Binose

The old Saint Georges medical School was top notch at finding all their students including non US citizen’s hospital residency positions in the US to finish their final round of becoming a fully licensed Medical Doctor.

The privately owned apartments on Saint Vincent were all full with Saint George’s students and the owners were able to pay their mortgages. Most of the apartments were in fact purposely built to facilitate the Medical School, loans and mortgages obtained on the strength of the income from the students each month.

Then along came Hugo Chavez and with Saint Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves sat on a stage and talked about the Argyle airport. During that public outdoor meeting a lot of medical students there were horrified by the names that Chavez called their president, George W Bush.

They were also horrified by PM Gonsalves laughing and clapping when Chavez spoke badly of the USA and its president. Within a few days the students wrote a letter of complaint to PM Gonsalves who never replied to them, and to a number of newspapers most of which never published their letter [except ‘The News’]. What with the rape and violence against students at that time and the multi burglaries by one man known as “King Kong” from Prospect/Ratho Mill the Chavez Gonsalves duo spectacle was a just a step too far. The students took a vote to see if they wanted to continue studying in SVG and every single one decided they did not. The School promptly upped and left giving Grenada all the income from students which amounted to multi millions of dollars every year.

This sent the banks and mortgage companies in SVG into a downward spiral as apartment owners could no longer pay their mortgages and loans.

Some three years later and with many bank foreclosures against apartment owners, a new medical school arrived. It was indeed a new medical school. It was a newly formed school with American owners that had no experience whatsoever in running medical schools. The school was named Trinity Medical School and it luckily had the benefit of the ex Dean of Saint Georges SVG being the Dean of this new school. An American who was probably the most experienced Caribbean medical school operator in the whole Caribbean. Having been through the era in Grenada when Maurice Bishop was telling his central committee that the lecturers at St Georges Grenada were CIA agents. Their phones being tapped and being followed and logged, albeit unknown to them at the time. This came to light on inspection of the records of revolution.

The Trinity Medical School was very fortunate to have this man as head and initial guide to the proper running and procedures for the school. The school at this time followed the previous tried and tested procedure of bringing top class US medical doctors and surgeons to lecture at the school. But that changed when the Dean left for reasons best known to him and Trinity. At this time US specialist doctor lecturers were replaced with lecturing doctors from Eastern European and South American countries, Cuba and some Americans even Vincentians. But some of the recorded lectures I have listened to can hardly be understood due to accent and pronunciation of English language by these lecturers. How students fare under such instruction I believe is a major hurdle for them. I understand there have been complaints but the lecturers remain unchanged and perhaps only partially understood. Surely this could contribute to the failure of a student in their studies, understanding, and critical knowledge base.

During the first year of Trinity very few students came here to study, the college campus was able to accommodate most of them in campus accommodation. During the second year some of the second year students were allowed to find an apartment off campus. But since then it has become the policy for the school to rent apartment complexes containing a number of apartments and then to call them part of the college campus and to charge a fee well in advance of what an individual apartment owner would charge for the same or even far superior apartment.

The school has created a apartment letting business within a school business to the sufferance of the islands private apartment owners. Bringing about a new crisis for apartment owners who once more because of the school policy are unable to pay their mortgages. To make matters worse new apartment blocks are currently being built and the apartments owned by small apartment owners are just being shelved and unused.

The few students who are currently in private apartments are refused by the school certain links to the internet and cannot use the school bus transport even if it passes their door. This behavior by the school is damaging to the private apartment owners and to the students who are treated as second class. The rentals paid by the students for the school apartments are paid in Alabama USA not in Saint Vincent, so even that has no benefit to the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Perhaps worse is to come for the students when they eventually go to the US to complete their course and to take the US medical board examination. That procedure is not even easy if you are a US citizen and studied in the Caribbean. The directors of US residency programs aren’t at all enthusiastic about IMGs. American students who study medicine abroad, with rare exceptions, those students would have found great difficulty getting into U.S. medical schools. Some of them also failed to earn admission to colleges of osteopathic medicine, a parallel U.S. medical education that’s similar to traditional medical school but generally less competitive. (Osteopathic doctors have D.O. rather than M.D. after their names.) Their education abroad may have been fine, but residency selectors highly value the sorting function that U.S. medical school admissions offices perform, whether or not you consider it fair.

But it’s even worse if you are a non US citizen studying in the Caribbean because whilst they will be taken to the US for the US medical exam, they may find it impossible to get into a residency program in a US hospital. There are Trinity non US students currently in the US for up to 18 months who cannot get hospital residency because they are not US citizens. Hospitals are obliged to offer residencies to US citizens first and only offer such to foreigners if they cannot fill the positions with US citizens. Hence there is a break down and a failure to secure positions for many folks who have studied in the Caribbean being able to progress in the US.

Foreign medical graduates may choose to practice medicine in their home countries or elsewhere outside of the United States. But in the main they trained for the very purpose of being a doctor in the US, that was the dream of almost every one of them.

I understand that the third party person who arranged residential positions with US hospitals for Trinity is no longer and they are now dealing directly with one hospital group in the Boston or Philadelphia area. If that will help foreign students I do not know, perhaps Trinity when they read this will let us know as a comment.

It’s no good saying otherwise than what I wrote because I have names of students currently in the US that simply cannot get residency in a US hospital.

I am aware that Trinity are earning a large profit from the apartments and are in fact running a business within a business. I fully understand they supply security officers at the complexes and internet and all that. But I am more interested in why students are being forced to use their accommodation against their wishes whilst Vincentian property owners are suffering by Trinity’s actions. Vincentians homes are being foreclosed on because of the Trinity campus housing policy.

We must remember that Gonsalves promised the private Vincentian apartment owners that Trinity was their rescue from the banks, Trinity was their savior. Not so it appears, their current policies are killing Saint Vincent? Gonsalves told the apartment owners that he had brought the school here to help the economy and to fill their apartments.

In the US in 2015 12,380 non US foreigners applied for hospital medical residency and only 6,301 found positions. The United States has strict policies regarding medical licensing—a doctor is only allowed to practice in the U.S. once he has obtained a license in the state in which he intends to work. The person must acquire a visa, pass the first two steps of the United States Medical-Licensing Exam (USMLE), then become certified by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), get into an accredited U.S. or Canadian residency program, and finally, go back and pass step three of the USMLE. Each of these steps could take multiple years, repelling students from foreign medical schools and also doctors who are already able to practice in the country in which they were trained.

I ask if after taking the students fees and rentals, if the school owes the foreign students a duty of care in ensuring they can get hospital residencies in the US, or any where else if it comes to that? If they do not they should tell the students so before they pay for their courses and their inflated priced accommodation.

If the students are dumped to battle for themselves after spending years studying, paying school fees and then forced to pay almost doubled apartment rents in SVG, at the end it will be a crying shame both for the students and the Vincentian apartment owners who are currently eating dirt.


DISCLAIMER: The opinion, belief and viewpoint expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinion, belief and viewpoint of iNews Cayman/ or official policies of iNews Cayman/


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About ieyenews

Speak Your Mind