Posted on March 25, 2015

In October 2014, QU established its 8th college, the College of Medicine (CMED), the first home-grown medical college that addresses the increasing need for Qatar-trained physicians, and supports the country’s growing healthcare sector and national strategies in healthcare and education. Working collaboratively with key healthcare providers and educators, the College will make invaluable contributions to strengthening clinical practice, medical education and research in Qatar overall. 

During an interview, QU Vice President for Medical Education and CMED Founding Dean Dr Egon Toft outlined the College’s medical education program, and the new international trends and approaches the College is implementing in its curriculum, as well as its contribution in advancing the healthcare sector in Qatar.

Can you elaborate on the CMED program structure?

CMED combines an international curriculum and quality standards that prepare students for internationally accepted medical licensing exams with locally relevant medical, professional and communication skills. Students will be fully prepared to take one of the standardized international medical licensing tests before graduation, and after graduation they will become leaders in improving healthcare in Qatar and the region.

The College provides to its students a patient-centered and case-based learning (CBL), which will allow them to have exposure to situations where medical cases with real patients are assessed very early on in their studentship. This occurs most significantly in the last two and a half years, which they spend in clerkships, primarily at Hamad Medical Corporation -- the main healthcare provider in the country. Students learn in small groups that emphasize teamwork, leadership and Arabic communication skills, giving them an added competitive advantage for practicing in the region, especially in easily overcoming any language barriers in patient-physician communication. 

The College has also a close and organic integration with the Qatari healthcare, which enables students, especially those who will be practicing inside Qatar after graduation, to gain a deep understanding of the local specificities of the sector, and of cases common in the country and the region. They will also have the opportunity to develop a professional network within the medical field. Research is also a definitive key element in CMED academic programs. We intend to make it an integrated part of the study program as quickly as possible by involving active researchers in the teaching process.

How are international standards reflected in CMED structure?

The College’s International Advisory Board comprises current and former leaders from international medical schools such as Stanford University School of Medicine, Perdana School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, University of Heidelberg’s medical school, American University of Beirut, US Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and others. Additionally, the College’s Steering Committee comprises national leaders in healthcare and education within Qatar, such as QU president, Managing Director of Primary Healthcare Corporation, as well as several key members of Hamad Medical Corporation including the Managing Director, Chief of Scientific, Faculty and Academic Affairs, Deputy Chief of Medical Education, Head of Trauma and Vascular Surgery, and others.

This ensures that while the needs of the local healthcare sector are our priority, international best practice is a key guiding element in how these needs can be met.

Interview with Dean Dr Egon [].jpg

What new trends and approaches will the College implement in its curriculum?

Along with the CBL approach, contextual learning or cross-disciplinary approach is one of the key elements that are needed in medical education. In this regard, we are creating a medical cluster within QU, whereby medical, pharmaceutical, public health, nutrition, biomedical and other health sciences can benefit from a seamless integration. We will also implement in our curricula other international trends in medical education such as Competency‐based learning, as well as methods like the “flipped classroom”, technology‐enabled curricula, and Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships (LIC).

We are fortunate to be part of a well-established and comprehensive university with a considerably broad range of health-related programs such as the award-winning nation-wide Inter-Professional Education (IPE) program lead by the College of Pharmacy.

In your opinion how does the College help to enhance Qatar healthcare system?

The healthcare system in Qatar is already highly internationalized in terms of quality standards, which creates a good environment for our students to learn and benchmark their performance against best practices applied through a specialized professional workforce in a fast-developing healthcare sector. After the founding phase, our focus will increasingly be on building research in a way that will have a significant influence on the healthcare system in Qatar, and to play an increasing role in community outreach and service-learning that will have a positive impact on the health of the local population.

The newly established College of Medicine is the first national school of medicine in the history of the country. I think the notable synergy between the medical sector and the higher education sector will be remarkable in this setting, and will likely achieve important milestones for the future of healthcare in Qatar in line with the Human Development pillar of Qatar National Vision 2030. The College also aims to play a core role in driving the momentum of collaboration in the medical field across the GCC countries.