Hospitals need more Emirati doctors
The focus is to expand the number of Emiratis in the medical field and increase their skills.
Abu Dhabi - Enthusiastic Emirati students with a deeply rooted passion for medicine have the chance to get hands-on experience by helping patients in Abu Dhabi.
By Jasmine Al Kuttab
Published: Fri 11 Aug 2017, 8:51 PM
Last updated: Fri 11 Aug 2017, 10:56 PM
Hospitals are seeking different strategies to boost the number of Emirati doctors, as Emiratisation could significantly contribute to the sustainability of UAE's healthcare sector, Khaleej Times has learned.
Saood Al Hameli, Emiratisation director - Human Capital, Cleveland Clinic, Abu Dhabi, said more Emirati doctors are needed in UAE hospitals. Various strategies have been implemented at the clinic, he said, adding that the time is just ripe for Emiratis to join the clinical field.
"The focus is to expand the number of Emiratis in the medical field and increase their skills. The numbers of UAE nationals in clinical areas need to be increased."
Al Hameli said the clinic created a platform of programmes to help in the development of the capacities of UAE nationals, including volunteering initiatives for youngsters, as well as scholarship programmes, which have so far received impressive results.
"We launched a partnership with Fatima College of Health and Science to sponsor 20 Emiratis going to the college. We are developing an Emiratisation strategy - next year we aim to add another 25 students - limited to nursing and allied health." Currently, people of 75 different nationalities are working in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. "Our target for the year is to have 18 per cent Emiratis in clinical and non-clinical sections.
"Currently, we have more than 500 UAE nationals and our focus is to increase the number of Emiratis in the clinical areas by offering programmes to train and develop talented UAE nationals.
Emirati physicians also have the chance to receive a one-year intensive internship programme, which also aims to boost the number of UAE doctors and their skills.
Enthusiastic Emirati students with a deeply rooted passion for medicine have the chance to get hands-on experience by helping patients in Abu Dhabi.
The Junior Caregiver Programme, which is the very first high school clinical volunteer drive in the UAE, included 35 Emirati high school students, who joined the clinic and worked alongside the doctors, nurses and staff. "100 students were interviewed - 40 were chosen and 35 of them were Emiratis. They were chosen because they wanted to pursue medical education. These Grade A students are very smart," said Al Hameli. 70 per cent of the first batch said they would love to pursue medical sciences.
"We collaborated with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), who were supportive when we came up with the idea," he added.
UAE's future doctorsShamsa Hasher Mesfer Rashed Alameemi is a bright Emirati high school student who recently completed her internship programme.
The 17-year-old from Raha International School said she hopes more young Emiratis like herself will give a career in medicine a chance. "When you serve a nation, you initially think of military, but there are many other ways, including helping people out. To me, this is also serving my nation."
Shamsa, who hopes to become a psychiatrist one day, said more Emirati doctors need to contribute to UAE's healthcare industry. "There are so few Emirati doctors, but such initiatives give us the chance to make our breakthrough. I believe the population of Emiratis interested in healthcare will grow," Shamsa said.
She said she would never forget her experience of helping the sick, even if they may never remember her name again. "When it comes to hospitals - I've always just been the patient, I haven't experienced the other side. But now I understand what it's like to be in the doctor's shoes.
"I never thought I'd be excited to wake up at 7am everyday, to put on that lab coat, but I loved every minute of it. It identified me as a volunteer and made me feel privileged."
Ali Ahmed Ali Al Ahmed, from Khalifa Bin Zayed Secondary School, also had the chance to shadow doctors and nurses at the hospital. The 16-year-old Emirati said he hopes to see more nationals in hospital wards, as it will help provide comfort for elderly local patients.
"I would love to see more Emirati doctors, because right now, we only see a small percentage, and this just makes me so sad. The elderly Emirati patients, especially elderly women - don't always feel comfortable being treated by expat doctors. They might feel more at home if treated by Emirati doctors."
Ali said he hopes to become a psychiatrist one day, because "it's a hard job - and the harder, the better".
He said the most exciting part of the internship was witnessing real life surgical procedures. "I learned so much, but most importantly, I learned how to deal with my surroundings. Patients can be happy, sad, devastated or furious. We don't know what they are experiencing - so our job is to simply help them."