Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) recently held a symposium on Building Capacity in Healthcare Professions, where they discussed sustainability, professional development and evolution of healthcare.

The symposium was organised by the college’s Institute for Population Health in collaboration and with input from divisions of pre-medical education and admissions. The event featured workshops that allowed an in-depth study of the topic, along with lectures by world-renowned medical and healthcare experts. The aim was to show delegates that continuous learning and improvement are the basis for capacity-building but that related issues like health policy, global education, health practitioner’s wellness, counseling and self-care are directly related to the overall improvement of public health and healthcare.

Subjects for the workshops were varied, and also featured Peter Martin, the interim chair of graphic design at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, who discussed the impact that design has on the development of healthcare.

Dr Ravinder Mamtani, Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research and Senior Associate Dean for Population Health and Capacity Building, said the symposium was a great success, attracting professionals from every sector of healthcare in Qatar.

I think that one of the most important lessons to come out of the symposium was the ever greater need for inter-professional collaboration and lifelong learning. Healthcare sectors should strive for a greater understanding of their colleagues’ roles, and in doing so they will have a very positive impact on patient care. Similarly, the world today is moving very quickly. Medical research is constantly producing new therapies, techniques and examples of best practice and it is vital for healthcare workers to stay abreast of developments for the benefit of their patients.

WCM-Q Dean Dr Javaid Sheikh spoke about developing innovation in the training of healthcare professionals and the mega trends – climate change, non-communicable diseases, and urbanisation – that are impacting healthcare. He emphasised the need for healthcare education to evolve and address those trends.

The subject of biomedical research was tackled by the world-renowned Dr John Ioannidis, CF Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention and Professor of Medicine and of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University in the US. Dr Ioannidis postulated that biomedical research has endemic problems and that researchers need to be more rigorous in their search for answers. According to quoted figures he presented during his talk, 96 percent of research claims to have found ‘significant’ results, a statistic which, he said suggested ‘extreme reporting bias’. Dr Ioannidis also mentioned problems with researchers ‘cherry picking’ the best hypotheses to achieve positive results. He said there was little replication of studies to ensure veracity and that data was usually not shared.

Dr Ioannidis ascribed lack of funding, and strong competition for funding, for problems within current biomedical research, but said researchers should first ask themselves questions before embarking on a study. These questions should include whether the proposed study was long enough and large enough to elicit useful information, if the research reflect real life, and if the methods, data and analysis verifiable and unbiased.

The symposium was concluded with a question and answer session featuring all of the speakers.

For more information on Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, visit their website at qatar-weill.cornell.edu.