DOHA: Qatar Foundation, through the University of Calgary-Qatar (UC-Q) is promoting a multi-dimensional approach to attract more Qataris to the nursing profession and change the society’s attitude toward nursing.
According to Dr Mohammed Fathi Saoud (pictured), president of Qatar Foundation and chairman of UC-Q’s Joint Oversight Board, the severe shortage of qualified nurses in the country could be addressed only through developing a dedicated and competent team of Qatari nurses-both men and women.
“Qatar Foundation, under the leadership of H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser is providing high-quality education to fulfil some of the most significant requirements of the country. Medical education is one of those requirements and the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and the Calgary University - Qatar were established to meet the growing demand for qualified medical professionals,” said Saoud, in an interview with The Peninsula yesterday.
“There is a huge demand in the market but the number of Qatari nurses and those from other Arab countries is very small. Shortage of qualified nurses poses a major risk for the health care sector,” he added. Only 25 percent of the students at Calgary University are Qataris and their ratio is even smaller at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar - between 20 and 25 percent.
“The Calgary University currently has about 300 students and 12 of its students are graduating next Sunday. Our goal is to develop the university as a world class institution with more than 1,000 students, in the next few years,” said Saoud.
He said there was a nursing school in Qatar that produced a good number of nurses, with secondary degrees, but there were concerns about quality. Worldwide, the nursing profession is undergoing a radical change, with a bachelor’s degree becoming a minimum requirement for nurses in several advanced countries like the UK and Canada.
“UC-Q was established to fill this gap. Currently it is offering diploma and bachelor’s degrees and a post graduate degree will be introduced in January next year. We are also planning to launch a doctorate in nursing in three years,” added Saoud.
He said the Canada-based Calgary University was selected as it was one of the top institutions in the world offering the most advanced model of nursing.
He admitted that the low salaries of nurses in the public and private sectors is a major factor hindering Qataris from joining the profession.
“We are seriously working with the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) to address this issue. There is also the need for more flexibility in the procedures for employing the UC-Q graduates in jobs at the HMC hospitals and the primary health centres,” said Saoud.
All the students at UC-Q are sponsored by the SCH or the HMC. After graduation they will join as trainees at one of the public healthcare facilities.
“The most important thing is to change the people’s concept about nursing. We need to take away the stigma that nursing is only about patient care,” said Saoud.
“The role of nurses in the health sector is changing worldwide. Nurses are now actively involved in medical researches and administrative jobs. We have some Qatari nurses at HMC who are now holding senior management positions. About 60 percent of the professionals who applied for top positions at the Sidra Medical and Research Centre are nursing graduates from reputed institutions in the US,” he said.
He underlined the need for a comprehensive community-based approach to promote the nursing profession among Qataris.
“We should tell our children about the importance of nursing in Islam and Islamic history and introduce to them the successful Qatari examples in nursing. There was a Qatari male nurse at HMC, who is now holding a senior administrative position. However, few people know about such people and their achievements.”
“Nursing is a noble profession that requires a passion for the job and commitment from those who practice it,” added Saoud.
He said the Calgary University had started field visits to schools to raise awareness among students about the significance of nursing and encourage them to join the profession.
Along with efforts to change the society’s approach toward nursing, there is also the need to promote a clear career path for nursing.
“Qataris are not attracted to medical professions mainly because of the nature of the job and the long years required to complete the studies. Our children must be educated about the social and economic benefits of taking up such jobs,” said Saoud.
“At Calgary, we are following a continuous education programme, to produce highly qualified nursing cadres,” he concluded. The Peninsula