How does Qatar compare with other places in the region in terms of healthcare education?
SHEIKH: Qatar is leading the efforts in the area of healthcare education in the entire region. For example, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar is the first effort of its kind in healthcare education for doctors outside of the U.S. Weill Cornell Medical College, as WCMC-Q, gives out American degrees. Similarly, University of Calgary has opened a campus for nursing. The College of the North Atlantic in Qatar (CNA-Q) has opened an allied health professional program. These are some of the examples and there is nothing in this region that parallels the effort and level of commitment that Qatar has exhibited in this regard.
How do local medical education institutions contribute to meeting the demand for healthcare practitioners?
SHEIKH: Through its national health strategy, which it rolled our earlier this year, and its’ National Vision 2030, Qatar has very clearly delineated that it wants to improve human and social development. Qatar’s health education institutions are aligning their missions with the vision for Qatar 2030. We are working on human development. We are working on social development by improving healthcare and we are also working on economic development by looking at a longer time frame. We produce research that gets translated from discoveries to translational applications, which will improve the economy. Ultimately, these efforts will lead to the goal of a knowledge based economy which is very clearly delineated in the National Vision 2030.
In what ways do you cooperate with other higher educational institutions in the country?
SHEIKH: WCMC-Q collaborates with nursing schools and allied health professional schools, respectively the University of Calgary and CNA-Q. We are a part of an academic health system that was recently launched by Her Highness, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. We are equal partners in that so we collaborate in terms of clinical care delivery and in research. We are also equal partners with Hamad Medical Corporation, which is the largest healthcare provider in The State of Qatar. Currently, we are affiliated with Sidra Medical Research Center and we will become equal partners in the near future. All of those partnerships and affiliations together improve the educational standards for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. The education and research itself continues in a positive feedback loop to improve the standards of those professionals and this leads to much better healthcare for the patients.
What challenges persist in the recruitment and retention of medical students and medical professionals?
SHEIKH: In any country, when you start the recruitment efforts, it takes time for people become comfortable with the concept. We had these issues initially, but recently, we are attracting both the best and the brightest minds in Qatar. As we produce results, which in this case are our students going to the U.S. for further post graduate training, coming back as faculty members, and then training the students further, we will continue to attract the best and the brightest. So at this time, the future looks very rosy.
What can be done to encourage more research in Qatar and the region?
SHEIKH: Qatar has assigned about 3% of its GDP to research. That is the highest of any country in the entire region. We have at WMC-Q, through the sponsorship of the Qatar Foundation, under the leadership of Her Highness, Sheikha Moza, established a truly first class research institution. When I say truly first class, I am talking about having genomics core, proteomics core, and state of the art research. We have recruited faculty members from Harvard, Columbia, and Cornell, truly world class institutions. I think the Qatar Foundation is truly committed to doing everything to promote research in Qatar. Qatar is already a shining example of how to establish research and how to produce local capacity. I think in time it will become an example, a beacon for other countries in the region. One has to be very patient with these endeavors as they are very long term.
Qatar has assigned about 3% of its GDP to research. That is the highest of any country in the entire region.
What role does Weill Cornell Medical College play in meeting the goals and objectives outlined in Qatar’s National Vision 2030?
SHEIKH: Weill Cornell Medical College’s vision over the next several years is closely aligned with the vision of Qatar National Vision 2030. In particular, Qatar National Vision talks about human, social, economic and environmental development. We are proceeding in the same way in all of those areas. By producing physicians and researchers, we are contributing to human development. By focusing on improving the healthcare system, we are focusing on social development. In the long run, these medical professionals and researchers will contribute to the economic development. We are very open to any collaboration with the environmental research institutes, recently established by the Qatar Foundation, for any research on the environment. So we are right there in aligning with Qatar’s National Vision.