Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) has honoured the vital work of hundreds of local physicians who selflessly share their knowledge and experience to help train the college’s doctors of the future.

As part of their medical training, in the final two years of their medical degrees, WCM-Q students spend a total of 55 weeks on clinical clerkships in affiliated institutions like Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). Here they can begin to apply the knowledge they have learned in the classroom and also acquire the hands-on skills needed to be a fully qualified doctor under the supervision of experienced physicians who are affiliated with WCM-Q. It was these 467 physicians that the college thanked on Saturday, presenting them with a WCM-Q doctor’s white coat, and WCM-Q business cards at a ceremony at HMC’s Hajar Auditorium.

Dr Javaid Sheikh, Dean of WCM-Q, said the work of WCM-Q’s affiliate doctors is invaluable, both to the education of the next generation of doctors, but also to the future of healthcare in Qatar. The affiliates practice in a range of institutions including HMC, Sidra Medical and Research Center, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), and Feto-Maternal Center.

Dr Sheikh said:

As a medical college we can teach our student doctors how to diagnose illnesses, how to provide comfort and support, and how to save lives. However, it is the doctors at our affiliate institutions who show them how to put that knowledge into practice.’

‘Among them, our faculty colleagues at WCM-Q’s affiliates have a wealth of experience that can only be learned through decades of work in hospitals, clinics, surgeries and healthcare centres. It is this knowledge and wisdom in fields as varied as obstetrics, internal medicine, surgery, neurology, psychiatry and paediatrics that they are passing on to our students.’

WCM-Q provides training and support through our Division of Continued Professional Development that allows Qatar’s physicians to embrace the concept of life-long learning, to learn new skills and to stay abreast of medical advances.

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One of those affiliate doctors is WCM-Q alumna Dr Mashael Al Khelaifi, Assistant Professor of Clinical Anaesthesiology, who having completed her medical degree and residency has come full circle and is now working at HMC helping to train a new cohort of doctors. Her story is similar to that of many of WCM-Q’s alumni, the first wave of whom graduated in 2008 and then spent several years in the US or at HMC completing their chosen residency program. They are now returning to Qatar and will become the healthcare leaders of the future, driving the nation forward to achieve ever-greater clinical excellence.

It is not only third and fourth year students, however, who benefit from the guidance, encouragement and expertise of WCM-Q’s affiliate physicians. The foundation class and students studying the pre-medical curriculum all benefit from career seminars and lectures delivered by the affiliate doctors, while students in their first and second years of the medical curriculum spend time in clinics shadowing qualified physicians and healthcare practitioners.

Dr Abdulla Al Ansari, Deputy Chief Medical Officer – Surgical Services,at HMC and Associate Dean for Clinical Medicine at HMC, WCM-Q, said the relationship between HMC and WCM-Q is like a marriage that gets stronger every day.

Dr Al Ansari said:

It’s healthy to have a good relationship between a hospital and a medical school. Our relationship has been going for 10 years and it’s getting stronger and stronger.’

‘WCM-Q students join us for surgery and on our ward rounds and all the students I have seen are enthusiastic, up-to- date, and very energetic. That means we have to keep up with them; when you have energetic students it energies their doctors and teachers. They really have a very positive effect on the environment and it means they also have good relationships with the nurses and patients.’

Dr Al Ansari said that another benefit of accepting students from WCM-Q – both from a clinical and research perspective – was that they are already aware of the local culture, the way that the hospital operates and its ethos. He also said that while HMC was able to provide practical lessons to the students, WCM-Q was able to reciprocate through academic and research opportunities.

He added:

We want the marriage between HMC and WMC-Q to be close and to be strong and to have ever-greater cooperation. This is a win-win situation for both of us, as then the students are happy and our residents are happy.’

As well as strengthening and integrating the medical system in Qatar, the strong, cohesive partnership between WCM-Q, HMC, Sidra, Aspetar, the PHCC and Feto Maternal Center also helps the nation achieve the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030 and the National Health Strategy by creating a new generation of highly qualified doctors. It also fulfils Qatar Foundation’s mission of unlocking human potential and creating a knowledge-based economy.

Dr Abdalla Al Kaabi, Executive Chair of the Children’s Services Clinical Management Group, Executive Vice Chief Medical Officer and Member of the Board of Governors at Sidra Medical and Research Centre, said WCM-Q students were really able to learn about the life of a doctor when working with the affiliates, and they learned lessons that are difficult to teach in the classroom, like patient management and interaction. But it’s not all a one-way street and accepting students also benefits physicians.

Dr Al Kaabi said:

For the doctor they, of course, learn from the student particularly if the students are asking challenging questions which they have to think about.’

He added that the relationship between Sidra and WCM-Q was also positive for Qatar as it builds human capacity and helps to generate knowledge.

He said:

It is of great benefit for Qatar. Having a medical school, particularly a well-respected American school like Cornell, is a great attraction for Sidra staff as many of them want to continue their links with academia and a recognised medical school. It would have been harder for us to attract top academics if Cornell had not been in Qatar and that has been a common theme when we interview people.’

For more updates, visit qatar-weill.cornell.edu.