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U of C extends global reach with campus in Qatar

November 24, 2006

Source: University of Calgary

The University of Calgary will bring state-of-the-art nursing education to the State of Qatar beginning in August 2007. The project is the largest overseas program developed to date by a Canadian university.

The project will see the creation of a branch campus called University of Calgary-Qatar, in Qatarís capital city of Doha. The U of C-Qatar nursing program intake is expected to grow to 100 students a year for the baccalaureate degree in nursing. The initial term of the agreement is 10 years. It is renewable. Other programs, such as masterís and doctoral degrees in nursing, as well as specialty nursing programs, will be phased in during the term of the agreement.

"The University of Calgary is excited to be playing a lead role in delivering world class health care in Qatar," said U of C President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Harvey Weingarten. "Itís an opportunity to broaden our international exposure while assisting the Qatari government in its efforts to redefine health care in Qatar and the Gulf region."

"Calgary students and professors will also have an unprecedented opportunity to gain international experience teaching and learning overseas," added Weingarten. "They will bring new skills and insights to their health care practices when they return to Canada."

Qatar currently does provide certain education and training programs in nursing, but its government is committed to offer education and research programs that meet international quality standards. Part of that commitment includes creating a new nursing education and research facility that features the latest in academic programs and medical technology.

Top medical, nursing and health sciences schools created in Qatar will together form an important platform for meeting the human resources highly needed in the country and throughout the Gulf region for top quality patient care and relevant medical research.

"The development of competitive human resources has been a high priority on the national agenda to meet the needs of the fast growing socio-economic developments occurring in our country," said Sheikh Abdulrahman Bin Saud Al Thani, Chief of the Amiri Diwan in the State of Qatar. "The Qatari leadership has committed to offer the young generations from Qatar and the region high-quality educational opportunities, through partnerships with diverse elite institutions from around the world. We welcome the University of Calgary as our latest international partner in the Education Lighthouse created in the State of Qatar."

"The health care service in the State of Qatar is growing tremendously and is becoming increasingly sophisticated. There is a growing need in Qatar for professional nurses who can function in important roles and at various levels in the promotion of health, community practice, education, leadership and research," said Dr. Latifa Al-Houty, Chair of the Board of Directors of Hamad Medical Corporation. "Qatar is thriving for excellence in both education and health. In this context, excellence in nursing education becomes a necessity."

It is estimated that over the first five years of the program more than 120 staff and faculty will be required, including professors, management staff and support staff. Qatar locals will comprise about a quarter of the workforce. Some of the areas which have been deemed priorities are acute care specialties, community and home nursing, midwifery, nurse education, primary care, psychiatric and mental health nursing, and renal nursing.

"The U of Cís nursing education program blends the best of clinical practice, learner-centred programming and research," says nursing dean Dr. Michael Clinton. "With this program we assume a pre-eminent leadership role in international nursing education."

Several leading North American universities already have branch campuses in Qatar, including Weill Cornell Medical College, Texas A & M University, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. The College of North Atlantic Newfoundland, Canada, established a branch campus in Qatar more than four years ago.

Graduates from the Qatar program will meet the same Canadian and international standards for nursing as students at the Calgary campus. Prospective students will need to meet the usual University of Calgary entrance standards in mathematics, chemistry and biology.
Health care in Qatar: strong and getting stronger

Qatar, located north of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf, has a population of about 900,000 people on a land mass about twice the size of Prince Edward Island. It enjoys significant revenues from oil and natural gas and, like many wealthy and developed nations, has an excellent national health program.

The capital city, Doha, and outlying centres are dotted with clinics that are free to citizens and available at minimal cost to expatriates or visitors. Qatar places a premium on the quality of health care and recruits specialists from all over the world.

Qatar is also a strong competitor in the recruitment of nurses and draws large numbers from the Philippines and India to meet the health care needs of a rapidly growing country. Most of these nurses have diplomas and not baccalaureate degrees.

The health care system in Qatar operates under the National Health Authority (NHA). The NHA oversees a well-developed health-care system that features six hospitals, private medical facilities (comprising 23 health complexes, 131 dental clinics, 128 medical clinics and two general hospitals), and laboratories, pharmacies and other public medical treatment facilities. It also regulates the manufacture and marketing of drugs in accordance with international standards.

Hamad Medical Corporation is the largest employer of health care workers in Qatar. Its Hamad General Hospital has 616 beds covering all medical areas, with specialites in surgery, pediatrics, internal medicine, anesthesiology, laboratory medicine and pathology.

The Womenís Hospital has 334 beds and a 71-bed neonatal intensive care unit. It conducts a comprehensive prevention and immunization program for newborns.

The 362-bed Rumailah Hospital is currently being renovated from a rehabilitation centre into a general hospital, although it will continue to serve as a centre for physical therapy with the most advanced equipment and techniques.

A pioneering centre for tumour diagnosis and specialized treatment of cancer, the Al Amal Hospitalís services include early detection, treatment consultation, rehabilitation education and awareness services for patients and their families. It has equipment and staff to accommodate 3,000 to 4,500 patients per year.

The newest hospital, Al-Khor, opened in May 2005. It provides quality and integrated medical, health and diagnostic services to the people in the northern areas of Qatar. It houses a medical laboratory, a blood bank, an emergency unit specifically for children in addition to a regular emergency unit, 119 beds and eight state-of-the-art wings for surgical operations.

The Hamad Medical City Complex, scheduled to open soon, is the largest comprehensive medical facility in the Middle East. It will incorporate three specialized hospitals including a 320-bed childrenís hospital, a 220-bed centre for bone diseases and a 350-bed centre for medical rehabilitation. The city will also house the offices of the NHA, 16 apartment blocks for nurses as well as a social and sports club for medical staff.

The University of Calgary-Doha will prepare nurses to staff these centres and help shape the future of health care in Qatar and the Middle East.

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