Education


Irish surgeons set up university in Bahrain
 




The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain (RSCI–MUB) officially opened its new campus in Manama in January. Middle East Health spoke to Professor Kevin O’Malley, President of RCSI-MUB.

Middle East Health: Before we talk about the new medical university in Bahrain, can you tell me briefly about RSCI’s post grad training facility in Dubai Healthcare City? I understand RSCI offers training in Jordan as well.

Professor Kevin O’Malley:
The RCSI commenced operations in Dubai in 2005. The campus is now located in Dubai Healthcare City. We are licensed by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and offer two postgraduate accredited masters programmes – MSc in Healthcare Management and MSc in Quality and Safety in Healthcare Management.

These masters programmes are also accredited by the National University of Ireland. An MSc in Health Services Management is also available in Jordan. In Jordan we work in partnership with Yarmouk University, Irbid.

The people coming on these programmes are already qualified doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, etc. The aim of the programmes is to help these professionals develop their managerial and leadership roles within the healthcare system.

RCSI in Dubai also offers training and consultancy to all health professionals in management, leadership, quality, patient safety and professional development. Our primary area of research interest is patient safety.




MEH:
Where is the teaching faculty from? What proportion is resident and visiting?

KOM:
The faculty in Dubai consist of visiting Irish and locally appointed academic staff. The programmes offered in Dubai are exactly the same as those offered in Ireland and Bahrain. The same degree is awarded. In order to ensure consistency faculty travel between the three locations to deliver modules. The content, assessment and external examiners are the same for all locations. The majority of staff are Irish.

The programmes in Dubai are designed in such a way that students can take their modules in Dubai, Bahrain or Ireland. We encourage students to travel and take their modules overseas, it also gives them the opportunity to visit hospitals in those countries and build an international network with other healthcare professionals. Students have taken this opportunity and it has proved a popular and positive experience. In July last year the RCSI hosted the International Leadership Summer School, which was well attended by students from Dubai and Bahrain.

The benefit of our approach to international education is that it gives students a wider perspective on the challenges of global healthcare and encourages participative problem solving.

MEH:
How are lectures delivered, face-to-face in class; by video from RSCI in Dublin?

KOM: All teaching is delivered ‘face to face’ in the classroom. We believe that class room discussion and interaction is important; it allows students to discuss and engage in debate in the key areas affecting healthcare. Classroom teaching is supported by an online learning portal. The portal contains all teaching materials, additional reading, access to online journals, vodcasts, podcasts and discussion forums. It further supports and facilitates communications between students and faculty.

MEH:
How long is the undergraduate medical doctor degree?

KOM: The basic medical course is five years in duration. In addition some students are required to take a foundation year. Entry to the five- or sixyear programme depends on the educational background of the applicant.

Those with good university degrees (2.1 honors), highest achievement in public examination such as the International Baccalaureate or the UK-A levels (for example two A’s & one B) are eligible for the 5 year programme. Entry to the 6-year programme demands high scholarly achievement just below that required for the 5-year entry.

MEH:
What opportunities do you offer for post grad specialisation and internship?

KOM: We are currently putting in place arrangements for internships for our graduates in Bahrain, the objective being to ensure that Bahraini and Bahraini residents are provided with intern posts in the public hospitals. We are working with the leadership of the Bahrain Defence Forces Hospital and the Ministry of Health to this end.

Postgraduate training is more individual. The wide range of specialties and experience of our clinical staff are at the disposal of our senior students as is the worldwide RCSI network to advise and assist them in getting the best training.

MEH:
Can you tell me about the admissions procedure?

KOM:
Initial applications are made online by accessing our web site. The application process includes the following: Complete application form; submit examination transcript/ results, letter of recommendation and medical report and finally an interview. The most important of these is academic achievement. All applicants who get past the screening stage are required to have an interview. The interview is designed mainly to ascertain the applicant’s insight into medicine as a career and motivation to become a doctor.

MEH:
What funding – scholarships, bursaries – is available to students?

KOM:
We have one international scholarship with is competed for each year in June. The winner has complete remission of tuition fees for the entire duration of the course. The competition is based on a completed application, a short essay and a challenging interview.

MEH:
I understand the university currently offers Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and the Bachelor of the Art of Obstetrics. Will it expand its offerings as the university grows? What other courses do you plan to offer?

KOM:
I am determined to expand the range of educational offerings of the University now that Schools of Medicine and of Nursing have become well established. We have also started masters programmes in Ethics and Legal Medicine and also in Nursing. We are considering a School of Dentistry and other options such as Pharmacy and various other healthcare disciplines.

MEH:
Weill Cornell in Doha has recently graduated its first group of medical doctors. The Harvard-affiliated medical school in Dubai is set to open soon. It appears the relatively small GCC population won’t be able to provide enough students for all three. What are you thoughts on this – taking into account there are also medical universities for Egyptians, Iranians, Lebanese and Saudis, countries with larger populations that could potentially offer a pool of students?

KOM:
There is still an unmet need for medical graduates in the region. It is very much to the advantage of the various countries within the GCC that excellent universities such as Cornell and RCSI-MUB bring their expertise to the region. I think it is also generally agreed that competition between universities is good for standards. My understanding is that Harvard is involved in quality assurance and continuing professional development, not undergraduate medicine as we know it. We would like to think that our strong brand, the Irish reputation for excellence in education and the quality of the service we provide will see us successfully compete with the overseas universities that have set up in the region as well as the local universities.

MEH:
There is great need for rigorous, clinical research specific to the needs of the region. Will any of the faculty be conducting medical research? And if so, on what areas will the research focus?

KOM:
My colleagues are very keen to get involved in research generally and clinical research in particular. We are well aware of specific healthcare issues in the region that require research and have great research potential. The lack of systematic research funding by the state makes setting up international level research difficult. However, we are developing a strategy which will involve collaboration locally as well as harnessing the research strength of RCSI, Dublin. We will also avail of the unique opportunities for relevant clinical research in the region.

MEH:
With whom is (or will) RSCI collaborating in the region – other universities, research institutes, NGOs and so on.

KOM:
Our main collaborations at present are with the healthcare systems in Bahrain that is, the Bahrain Defence Forces Royal Medical Services and the Ministry of Health. We have also had early contact with the University of Bahrain and the Arabian Gulf University. But I think it is fair to say that collaboration in these cases is still at an early stage. We are working closely with the Cochrane Collaboration which seeks to apply evidence-based decisions as a principle within medical education and the practice of medicine generally.

MEH:
Are there any other points you would like to make?

KOM:
We want to contribute at different levels within the community we serve notably in postgraduate medical education and training and continuing professional development. We are also keen to increase our contribution to the community generally and we are putting together a strategy to this end.


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ate of upload: 31st March 2009

                                  
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