The blossoming residency programme at Hamad Medical Corporation is proving to be an appealing option for fresh graduates who wish to continue their medical training in Qatar.
One student who is foregoing the opportunity to move abroad in favour of gaining practical experience close to home is Sanabel Al Akras, 25, who will be graduating from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) next week, as part of the fifth annual convocation of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF).
The diligent medical student cites the extensive training in the paediatrics department of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), as well as a focus on resident teaching, as two of the main reasons that have influenced her decision to stay.
“My current plan is to start my residency in the paediatrics department at HMC, as I found my training to be really good,” says Sanabel. “Wednesdays are set aside for resident teaching and they increase our workload. As a resident, this is an aspect that I care about. The family environment and teaching that takes place is another attractive option, so I chose to do my residency here.”
The Jordanian, who has lived in Qatar for the last ten years, completed her education at Al Rayyan Al Jadeed Independent School for girls before enrolling in QF’s Academic Bridge Program, which helped facilitate a smooth transition to university.
Although the idea of travelling abroad may be inviting to some, Sanabel values living within close proximity to her family, and is looking forward to starting her residency on July 1. And, her decision to remain at home is testament to Qatar’s growing expertise in the medical field. She says, “HMC’s paediatrics department is one of the best in Qatar and will be the first to be accredited at the end of this year.”
As part of their graduation requirements from WCMC-Q, students are asked to carry out clinical experience in the U.S., and to volunteer when they can. Having bolstered her clinical experience abroad, Sanabel feels that she has taken full advantage of this opportunity to widen her horizons.
“I spent two months at New York Presbyterian Hospital and another month at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Tennessee,” she says. “As part of the global health experience, I also went to Bugando Medical Centre in Tanzania. My experience in Tanzania was amazing and I encourage every medical student to work hard and to involve themselves in such an experience, because what I learned there, I could not have learned in any text book. It helped me shape my view of the world and refine my long-term goals.”
One of the lasting lessons that Sanabel learned from her travels was the importance of finding ways to develop health expertise, especially in parts of the world where medical treatments are less advanced.
“It was very interesting and a little strange for me, because in Tanzania they have scarce resources and so I went from that experience to seeing medicine practised at a well-known hospital in the US. It was good to see the difference and to think of ways in which we can improve healthcare.”
Sanabel also feels fortunate for having had the chance to travel with fellow students to present research findings at the Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention conference, which was held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2010.
“Our research was about breast cancer and breastfeeding,” she explains. “We were five students, who worked as a group and collaborated to make it happen. Again, it was amazing because we were the only students at the conference. We met with scientists from all over the world who were impressed with our research.”
This is only the beginning of what Sanabel hopes to achieve. She plans to complete her fellowship in nephrology, before making her mark in the sphere of policymaking. “I hope that one day I will be qualified enough to join the World Health Organization or Unicef, since I am very interested in global health policies and would like to work as a physician,” Sanabel muses.
QF’s fifth annual convocation takes place on May 8, as parents and teachers come together to celebrate the achievements of students in fields that include medicine.