Abu Dhabi: With big ambitions on contributing to the UAE’s medical sector, five young and bright Emirati female students have been selected for an intensive two-week training programme in the United States which will see them experience the rigours that comes with being a medical practitioner.

Organised by the Al Bayt Mitwahid Association, the initiative — Future Medical Stars — is part of a joint collaboration with Fatima College of Health Sciences and VPS Healthcare. The programme’s main goal is to increase the number of Emirati medical professionals to 10,000 in line with UAE Vision 2030.

The five students, who major in several different medical fields owill set off for Philadelphia, US, on July 13 where they will spend two weeks at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Each student will have their own mentor and a programme suited to their skills and subject interest. The students will observe some of the latest clinical research methods with a focus on cancer as well as visiting with patients.

“I am very excited to have been selected for this programme and I’m really looking forward to going to the US to learn more and to try to gain as much experience as possible,” said Mariam Al Ebrahim, 28, one of the selected students.

Al Ebrahim says her goal is to become a pharmacist one day, saying the country was in need for more local practitioners in the field.

“It’s a big challenge to be a pharmacist because there are so many drugs on the market, and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to join this programme because I wanted to learn about how certain drugs work with cancer patients and their reaction to the medication.

“I plan to bring back everything that I learn on this journey for the benefit of the medical industry here in the UAE because we are in need of more local pharmacists,” she added.

Al Ibrahim said she was also happy to show a positive side to Arab women in the US.

“They will see that we are educated and very capable women. We want to show that Arab women can take part in specialised studies.”

Amira Al Kaabi, 21, who will also be going on the two-week programme says her goal is to become a professional nurse.

“I am hoping this experience will expand my knowledge and perception in the medical field, I look forward to bringing back new ideas with me.

“I think it’s important to gain international experience along with learning the best international practices because nursing is still a fairly young career here in the UAE, and so if we want to make it successful we need to build a good structure for it,” she added.

Al Kaabi said she also hoped to change other people’s perceptions of what it means to be a nurse.

“One of the biggest challenges of being a nurse is the social image that comes with it and letting people know that being a nurse involves much more than just giving medication to someone. Nursing is both an art and a science.

“For me this is my passion, I like to be around people helping and caring for them, so this is a profession that best suits me even though it is very demanding,” she added.

Jawaher Al Alawi, 20, who also wants to become a nurse, said she plans to use her two week programme to learn about antibiotic resistance.

“I am planning to do research about antibiotic resistance for cancer patients, I want to investigate and learn more about what measures we can take to prevent this from happening.

“This programme is going to teach me a lot, but at the same time I’m also happy that doctors in the US will see us and learn about our culture and what we are doing in our own medical practices,” she added.

Mariam Khamis Al Shamsi, 21, says she aspires to be a radiologist at a hospital in the UAE.

“I want to improve how we can detect cancer cells in its earlier stages, this will be a big positive for our medical sector and for our patients here in the UAE. It will be very interesting to see the latest research developments in the US and how to incorporate that to the UAE.

“Our country has given us a lot and so I see this as my small way of giving back and helping in its continued growth. The more home based medical practitioners we have the more positive it will be for the country,” she added.

Shamsa Slayem Al Ameri, 34, who also wants to specialise in radiology said she was motivated to become a doctor as she saw it as a humanitarian role.

“This is a way to help the community and to keep people healthy and away from diseases. When other Emiratis also see other Emirati doctors this will make them feel proud and happy.

“Having local expertise is crucial to building a successful and sustainable medical sector,” she added.

Al Ameri said she was also proud to show that Arab women too could excel as doctors.

“Arab women are capable of performing specialised jobs, some might think that women might be weaker in this field but in my opinion it’s the opposite.”