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‘Experiential Learning’ for Foundation Program Students at WCM-Q

WCMQ Foundation Program students

Foundation Program students from Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q) presented research posters of their experiences, after observing doctors and other healthcare professionals at work.

As part of the English course curriculum taught by Dr Rachid Bendriss, this experiential learning initiative involved students from the Foundation Program shadowing doctors at Sidra Medicine and watching how they interact with patients, each other and colleagues from other medical disciplines. The aim is to give students a greater understanding of what it means to be a doctor and the attributes that are required, aside from an academic understanding of diagnosis, disease, drugs and therapies.

Each student, majority of whom are Qatari, chose one of five themes to concentrate on – teamwork, leadership, empathy, emotional intelligence and professionalism. Throughout the semester, students explored and reflected on these themes in research literature, engaged in face-to-face and online discussions, and visited Sidra Medicine to observe physicians at work. They then produced a research poster using a multi-modal approach based on a literature review, their observations, an inquiry graphics analysis, and their inferences.


Khalid Alsabbagh opted to focus on teamwork and leadership and was assigned to shadow doctors and other medical professionals in the Department of General Surgery. The title of his study was ‘Interdisciplinary Teamwork in the Medical Field’.

I worked on the idea of observing teamwork in the medical sector and examining how it benefits patients’ health, outcomes and satisfaction. My conclusion was that teamwork – most importantly multidisciplinary teamwork – in the medical field is crucial in improving patient health outcomes and satisfaction. I also observed that a medical team has no hierarchy; everyone works as one team, there is no leader, everyone takes responsibility for themselves and others.’

Latifa Mahmoud was assigned to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to examine professionalism in the medical profession. She said that through observation, she had seen and come to understand that there is no exclusive characterisation of professionalism. Rather, the trait manifests itself in various ways depending on the doctor and the circumstances of the patient.

I noticed that professionalism does not have a single, unique definition. Each doctor demonstrates professionalism in different ways. One doctor may show it in the language they use with a patient, another doctor may show it in the way they explain and then perform procedures on patients.’

Dr Rachid Bendriss, Assistant Dean for Student Recruitment, Outreach and Foundation Programmes, said it had been a valuable learning experience and that the five themes chosen were central to excellence in healthcare.

… This experiential learning initiative encourages the students to take a critical and specific approach, allowing them to focus on attributes of healthcare professionals that are outside of the traditional medical curriculum.

The posters today were of very high standards and a lot of thought had obviously gone into them, demonstrating that the students  appreciated the fact that being a good doctor takes a lot more than simply passing exams.’

The initiative was supported by the WCM-Q Distributed Library, Office of Alumni Affairs and Undergraduate Medical Education at Sidra Medicine. For more information, visit

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