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Professor Makes Caribbean Connection

Dreams of a medical career can begin in the tropics for future CSULB classes thanks to a memo of understanding signed recently with the American University of the Caribbean.

The Colleges of Health and Human Services as well as Natural Sciences and Mathematics agreed that the AUC would accept applications for admission from all CSULB students graduating with a bachelor’s degree if they meet academic requirements. Students also need to satisfy all of the AUC’s other admission criteria including course work meeting the AUC’s entrance requirements and strong letters of recommendation from CSULB. The AUC also may require applicants to be interviewed prior to acceptance.

“During the pre-clinical years when medical students study such basic sciences as anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, they can study on the Caribbean island of St. Martin,” said Health Science’s Sarath Gunatilake. “Then they can attend U.S. medical schools for their clinical rotations and perform their internships in any number of U.S. hospitals in specializations as different as medicine, surgery or obstetrics.”

Gunatilake thanked Natural Sciences Dean Laura Kingsford, Health and Human Services Dean Ronald Vogel, and Paul Lewis, the former director for the Center for International Education, for supporting the memo. “Now, thanks to them, our students have a chance to pursue their medical studies in the Caribbean,” he said.

The project began with discussions between Gunatilake and Paul Schnatz, an M.D. and chief academic officer of the AUC’s School of Medicine.

“When I was last on St. Martin’s in 2006, I heard about a similar memo being discussed between the AUC and San Diego State,” said Gunatilake. “I thought, if San Diego State’s students have that opportunity, why not Cal State Long Beach?

“It says a great deal about the Colleges of Health and Human Services and Natural Sciences and Mathematics that they would participate in this program,” he added. “I extend my hand in thanks for all those whose cooperation made it possible. This could be the beginning of faculty exchanges and sabbaticals between the two institutions.”