Abu Dhabi has all the attributes required for a robust medical academic ecosystem Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

It has been just over a year since the global health care sector was met with unprecedented challenges brought about by COVID-19, further amplifying the existing concerns faced by the current health care infrastructures around the world and locally.

It further demonstrated the need for robust health care systems, which are critical to recovery, progress, and development of countries’ economies. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that shaping the future of health care is high on the list of priorities in the global agenda – and the UAE is no exception.

Our citizens and residents have high expectations. There is a heightened demand for comprehensive, quality health care services, future-forward innovation, and high-performance medical practitioners – and the UAE is well-positioned to meet these community’s needs.

With our enhanced focus on transforming the way we raise and train our young medical professionals, we have the tools and ingredients needed to create a conducive, nurturing, and educational environment in the form of an optimal medical academic ecosystem, to groom future healthcare leaders with the required skillset to deliver on the country’s ambition for health care.

Conducive learning environment

To start, an optimal education ecosystem requires an excellent conducive learning environment that encompassesa teaching hospital, partnerships with tertiary educational institutes along with patients with diverse medical conditionsso that young professionals get holistic, broad exposure.

Abu Dhabi has all the attributes required for a robust medical academic ecosystem– it is a large, metropolitan area with many hospitals that have strategic partnerships with leading medical institutes.

Once this environment is established, the second element is identifying a pool of talented trainees who have the resilience, reflexibility and passion to deal with medical conditions and concerns that arise from the UAE’s demographically diverse set-up.

Young professionals within the system will not only be exposed to unique and complex patient cases but will also be required to develop the ability to combine novel technologies with a forward-thinking approach when it comes to treatingthose cases.

Pioneering learning techniques

Adopting pioneering learning techniques will, in addition, also need to be balanced with the all-important human touch element, as the patient-doctor relationship will remain central to cultivating faith in how health care holistically improves lives.

Thirdly, an ecosystem of this nature will need to driveinnovation – and innovation comes with the culture we teach. For example, the culture we are setting at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City is one that nurtures pioneers and those who want to be at the forefront of health care.

It is a mindset to encourage people to do their best and ask questions relating to how they can improve patient care and quality of care. Couple this with resources like cutting-edge technology and key education collaborations and you have the ingredients to move meaningful innovation forward.

To maintain longevity and relevance, this ecosystem will also need to adhere to the trends shaping medical education.

For example, using technology to standardise and create evidence-based medicine will allow for efficiency and reliability along with diagnosing conditions every time. Further, individualized medicine coupled with machine learning and AI will also allow us to take huge amounts of data to help physicians make a diagnosis and come up with treatment plan.

In addition, home hospital care, that essentially extendshospital services to patients’ homes, will allow physicians to monitor patients in real time from their own homes via gadgets given to them, usually involving video telemedicine along with a command centre where patients are monitored.

Finally, our partnerships are key – whether they are with integral education partners, or by inviting local, regional, and international speakers who can create a nurturing environment and stimulate innovative thinking.

For all promising medical academic ecosystems, it is a constant cycle of evolution – incorporating the new emerging platforms to ensure our trainees are ready to go into the field.

Dr. Abba Zubair is the Dean of Education at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City