Caribbean-based medical school plans temporary move due to effects of Hurricane Irma
Students, academics and support staff from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) are in Lancashire this week as plans are being finalised that would potentially allow them to continue their program of study after a hurricane damaged the School’s home country.
Hurricane Irma had a devastating impact on Sint Maarten, the Dutch-French island where AUC’s students complete their first two years of pre-clinical medical school. Determined to allow students to proceed with their studies, AUC is working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) on plans to host the school for its autumn semester, pending necessary regulatory approvals.
The plan is for AUC to utilise the University’s academic facilities for teaching, and for students and staff to be accommodated in numerous halls of residence and houses within the Preston City Centre. The visiting students would complete their regular curriculum on a modified schedule, ensuring the existing UCLan students’ timetables are unaffected. The students would also have access to a range of UCLan facilities including the library, computing and pastoral care, and be associate members of the Students’ Union. Clinical skills training would take place at associated NHS trust sites in East Lancashire.
"What’s happened to their island and the whole of the Caribbean is utterly devastating. This situation is our chance to offer help to people whose lives have been turned upside down through a natural disaster."
UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas said: “What’s happened to their island and the whole of the Caribbean is utterly devastating. We pride ourselves on being a University that is always willing to help our community, be it local, regional, national or international. This situation is our chance to offer help to people whose lives have been turned upside down through a natural disaster.”
AUC has a pre-existing link with ELHT. The close working relationship between UCLan and ELHT, which sees UCLan medical students undertake placements in the Trust and throughout East Lancashire, was the nucleus that attracted AUC to ask the University for help.
Kevin McGee, Chief Executive at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We already have a close working relationship with AUC and UCLan, and we’re delighted to be able to build on this to offer support and ensure that the AUC student cohort can complete their studies with the minimum of disruption.”
"We are all incredibly grateful to UCLan for welcoming us to Preston...we are looking at our time at UCLan as a new adventure and I am sure we will be well taken care of."
Rico Barronon, President of the AUC Student Governors’ Association, said: “We are all incredibly grateful to UCLan for welcoming us to Preston. The intention to move an entire medical school across the Atlantic in a matter of weeks is incredible and shows the resilience of AUC students who have been through a very traumatic time. We are looking at our time at UCLan as a new adventure and I am sure we will be well taken care of.”
Nate Minigh, Fourth Semester Class Representative for the AUC Student Governors’ Association, commented: “As much as we prepared for the hurricane we hadn’t seen anything on this scale before and as soon as we saw the destruction we knew straight away that we wouldn’t be able to go back to campus. Everyone pulled together and the clinicians we had on site did an amazing job of setting up a triage centre to help as many people as possible. We’ve all been through a lot and we are looking forward to settling into life at UCLan and continuing our studies.”
Photos from our welcome talks to staff and students from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine.