A new medical school in Abu Dhabi hopes to encourage more Emiratis to consider a career in health care.
A collaboration between multinational providers VPS Healthcare and the Cumming School of Medicine of the University of Calgary in Canada will offer the only accelerated graduate three-year programme outside of North America through which to become a doctor.
Graduates will be enrolled into a residency at one of 24 VPS Healthcare hospitals across the region, to address the significant demand for physicians in the UAE and elsewhere.
Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, founder and chairman of VPS Healthcare, said the new school of medicine will also generate significant positive economic and social benefits.
“VPS Healthcare's education programmes will help build a new generation of qualified healthcare professionals,” he said.
“And for the employment of Emirati nationals in the private sector, this is a key pillar of the UAE’s economic diversification agenda.
“After graduation, these highly educated Emirati professionals will become part of a world-class academic medical health system, which will improve the quality of health care in our communities.”
The programme called Nafis, meaning 'complete' in English, was announced in September alongside the launch of the second tranche of projects under the "Projects of the 50”.
The programme commemorates the UAE’s jubilee year and carves out an economic mandate for the next 50 years to inspire youth and deliver national prosperity.
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Within five years, all private sector companies in the UAE should have a workforce that is at least 10 per cent Emirati.
Majid Al Futtaim has already committed to recruit 3,000 Emiratis in the private sector before 2026 in the retail and leisure sector.
More options for career in health care
The new school will include extensive roles in research and development in medical and healthcare fields, high-paying jobs and better access to top-class specialists.
“Given the highly talented physician faculty attracted to academic medical centres, consumers looking to make healthcare decisions often remain in UAE, rather than travelling to different parts of the world,” said Dr Shamsheer.
“VPS Healthcare will continue its mission to attract and now train primary care and clinical specialists who are so crucial to the future of health care and patient well-being in the UAE.”
The new partnership will swell the options available for students hoping for a medical career in the country.
A roster of medical universities offering some of the best regional facilities include the Mohammed bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dubai, the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi and UAE University in Al Ain.
Other options for medical students are the Gulf Medical University in Ajman, and Ajman University, where three of its nine colleges are dedicated to medical sciences.
Since 1970, the University of Calgary’s doctor of medicine programme has been one of only two fully accredited medical schools in Canada to offer a three-year course.
The VPS Group’s Burjeel Medical City in Abu Dhabi will serve as the principal teaching hospital for the medical school.
A teaching hospital on the same site as the medical school will accelerate exchange of information, mentorship and the “spirit of learning”, officials said.
A search is now on to recruit the school of medicine’s founding president, dean and faculty.
Enrolment will begin as soon as all approvals and licensing are complete, most likely in 2022.
“The medical school will reshape and redefine the health services in the private sector by merging clinical practice with academic medicine,” said Dr Taleb Almansoori, academic adviser for VPS Healthcare.
“We constantly strive for excellence, aiming for knowledgeable and innovative Emiratis ready to serve our community and lead the healthcare sector.
“Interested students in joining this school will get a world-class medical education accompanied by hands-on clinical education at VPS facilities.
“It truly has the potential to become a prestigious medical ecosystem – with innovative teaching and programmes that will impact our whole community and far beyond.”