The Office of International Medicine Programs (IMP) hosted more than 80 guests for its 7th Annual Dinner, Nov. 14, 2014, at the Hilton Crystal City. The annual event brought together IMP partners, alumni, program participants, and students, as well as faculty and staff from across the George Washington University. Adding a new feature the program hopes will blossom into a long-standing tradition at the dinner, IMP recognized a partner and two SMHS faculty members for their leadership, commitment, and contributions to international medical education.
IMP honored long-standing partner the American Austrian Foundation (AAF) for its continued dedication to hosting and teaching SMHS medical students over the past nine years. The AAF, through the Max Kade Fellowship, provides scholarships to selected GW students for clinical rotations in Austria that include roundtrip airfare, lodging, and a stipend. Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D., ’81, RESD ’85, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, vice president for health affairs and dean of SMHS, presented the award to the former U.S. Ambassador to Austria William C. Eacho, who accepted the honor on behalf of the AAF and the Max Kade Fellowship.
Additionally, IMP recognized SMHS professors Jehan “Gigi” El-Bayoumi, M.D., RESD ’88, associate professor of medicine at SMHS and founding director of the Rodham Institute, and Jeffrey Bethony, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine, for their commitment to international medicine. El-Bayoumi has been highly supportive of the school’s international educational projects, helping IMP select the best and brightest from a vast pool of talented international students and medical graduates seeking residency and fellowship training at GW. In addition, she has contributed to the success of the Medical Research Fellowship Program by helping guide the fellows through the residency application process and serving as a liaison between IMP and program directors.
“Her experience in medical education and her wisdom have been invaluable to us in this process,” said Stanley Knoll, M.D., FACS, medical director and clinical professor of surgery, as he presented El-Bayoumi with her award. “She assures that we are able to recruit the best of the best, who will succeed in our training programs, and then return to their home countries to improve the quality of health care for their people. In many cases, these graduates become the new generation of leadership in health care and medical education abroad.”
For more than a decade, Bethony has hosted students from both the M.D. and health sciences programs at his site in Brazil through a partnership with the Sabin Vaccine Institute. SMHS students have had the opportunity to participate in hookworm vaccine trials, research, and clinical rotations. Bethony also leads research workshops for IMP medical research fellows each year. In 2014, he worked with IMP to develop and implement the curriculum for the new Summer Research and Medical Enrichment program for international medical students. Bethony presented several workshops to the students in the program and volunteered many hours of his time to work with them on their group research projects and poster presentations to ensure they remained on track for the duration of the program.
In addition to presenting awards, Huda Ayas, Ed.D. ’06, M.B.A. ’98, M.H.S.A. ’93, associate dean for international medicine at SMHS, gave a brief overview of IMP’s highlights and achievements from the 2013-14 academic year, including IMP’s 20th anniversary celebration; the launch of a biannual eNewsletter, which seeks to raise the prominence and visibility of IMP among our partners, as well as foster a greater sense of community among the IMP alumni; and the expansion of opportunities for GW and its international communities, increasing GW participation abroad by nearly 50 percent and international participation here at GW by more than 60 percent.
Finally, Janan Sarkis, M.P.H., director of international programs at SMHS, introduced two current IMP participants, Suliman Alamro, M.B.B.S., and Mariam Meshikhes, M.D., B.Sc., who shared their experiences at GW. Alamro, a PGY3 resident in the Division of Internal Medicine at SMHS, reflected upon the seamless admissions process and coordination with the Graduate Medical Education office. He described feeling supported during his first year as an internal medicine resident, adding that he never felt alone or helpless as he integrated into a new culture and a different health care system. Additionally, he was proud to participate in the Department of Medicine’s introductory course for international medical graduates, helping them address any difficulties they encountered on their journey in the United States. “I’m proud of GW’s dedication in providing the best experience and support for IMGs so that they can thrive and succeed at achieving their dreams,” said Alamro.
Meshikhes, a medical research fellow in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at SMHS, eloquently described her experiences. Her success, she told the audience, grew out of the strong relationship she developed with her mentor in the program, Jeanny Aragon-Ching, M.D., associate professor of medicine at SMHS.
Meshikhes recalled important lessons from the research she’s had the opportunity to be a part of in clinical trial design, biomarkers, and drug development in the field of prostate cancer. “The Medical Research Fellowship Program is the perfect opportunity for medical graduates to receive the right guidance for residency,” she said. “During the comprehensive program, I was able to enhance my writing, presentation, research, and clinical skills. In addition, I was able to make informed decisions, with the help of the mentors, when it came to applying for residency. Also, I utilized the various interview workshops given, in building the confidence needed to excel in residency interviews.”