Abu Dhabi’s first medical school at Khalifa University will train home-grown talent who in the future would provide world-class health services to residents, expatriates and medical tourists.
A huge part of the UAE’s Vision 2021 program to become one of the best countries in the world is the delivery of advanced healthcare services to citizens, expatriate residents and medical tourists.
To accomplish this, partnerships have been forged over the years between emirates, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and foreign institutions to build new state-of-art healthcare facilities.
The country is also continuing to attract highly-qualified doctors and nurses from overseas to run these institutions.
However, the UAE knows that overreliance on foreign healthcare workers has its drawbacks.
The need to train and educate Emiratis locally presents a better long-term option, as they tend to stay after graduating to stay close to families, and because they have a personal stake in developing their own country.
Abu Dhabi is nearing that goal with the recent announcement that the Urban Planning Council has greenlit the planned establishment of the capital’s first medical school at Khalifa University.
To accommodate the new medical school, an engineering college, research and development facilities, an auditorium and other student facilities, the university would expand from its present size of 34,500 square meters to 169,500 square meters, and would accommodate 3,000 students and 762 staff, including faculty from around the world, according to a recent report.
The plan for Abu Dhabi’s medical school was first unveiled years ago, in what was then described as a unique project that involves an engineering school that is Khalifa University developing a medical school offshoot to reflect the integration of modern medicine and other branches of science.
"The reason that it's so timely now and over coming decades is that this interface between medicine and what's developing in engineering is more relevant than ever before. Things like robotic surgery are now a reality that would have been science fiction 30 years ago,”
Dr. Jay Noren, provost at Khalifa University said in a prior interview.
During the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress held early this year, experts agreed that projects like these could prepare the UAE in coping with a growing healthcare market, which is projected to grow by 13.1 percent through 2018.
Ryder Smith, head of Middle East Health at Pricewaterhouse Coopers told The National then that
“there was a need to build on the educational infrastructure to encourage more Emiratis into the healthcare profession to meet that growing demand.”
A timetable for completion of the medical school has not been announced, but this early, Khalifa University students are getting involved in a campaign to attract young Emiratis to the medical field.
At least 25 student volunteers are helping healthcare professionals conduct seminars during MedCamp 2014, a summer camp designed to inform grade 10 and 11 high school students about career prospects as a doctor, nurse, lab technician or other allied health worker, according to a news release by Khalifa University.
The university’s future medical school is expected to collaborate with pioneering medical education institutions like the United Arab Emirates University and Dubai Medical College, as well as undergraduate programs such as NYU Abu Dhabi's Premedical and Health Studies program.
Students and residents from these medical schools would train in existing hospitals, including newly-built, state-of-the-art medical centers such as Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Academic Medical Centre in Dubai, a planned teaching hospital and medical college in Dubai Silicon Oasis that will open in 2017, and take advantage of seed grants for their research projects from private donors like the Al Jalila Foundation.
With Abu Dhabi and Dubai leading the way in training the next generation of home-grown health professionals and building world-class health facilities, the UAE is on track to become a regional and global center for healthcare education, research and medical tourism.