Abu Dhabi: The long road to becoming a certified doctor or specialist still turns away many Emirati men from the field of medicine, a newly-graduated doctor said in the capital Tuesday.
The responsibility of taking care of lives is also a hefty burden not everyone wants to bear, said Dr Majid Al Tunaiji, 31, who graduated from a paediatric residency programme at Tawam Hospital.
“But the mindset is slowly beginning to change, especially with the availability of more and more medical fields available for specialisation in the UAE. Instead of having to travel abroad for medical school or residency, many of us can now complete our residency in the UAE before looking at fellowships abroad,” Dr Al Tunaiji told Gulf News.
Dr Al Tunaiji was one of 13 male residents who graduated this year from Abu Dhabi emirate’s residency programme, which is organised by public health care provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha). The remaining 78 graduates were all female.
While many of the graduates will continue to practice general medicine in the UAE, some will also head abroad to pursue fellowship programmes that allow them to specialise further in their chosen fields.
Dr Al Tunaiji wants to obtain a fellowship in paediatric pulmonology.
“Respiratory ailments like asthma are common in the UAE, and I want to return to the UAE after obtaining my fellowship to serve the community here,” the residency graduate said.
He added that this desire to serve the UAE should also spur more Emirati men towards medicine.
“It is a commitment, because becoming a doctor takes years of study. In addition, many Emirati men want to get married and provide for their families, and this is often not possible when you are still a medical student. So young Emiratis need to understand how being doctors can help them give back to their own communities,” Dr Al Tunaiji explained.
Although he is the first doctor in his family, Dr Al Tunaiji knew what he was getting into when he made his foray into medical education.
“I had always likes Biology, and it seemed like a natural fit. So I got a medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland — Bahrain. And now, one of my four sisters is also following in my footsteps, and is a first year surgical resident,” he said.
He added that better financial incentives for medical students and residents could also attract more Emirati men to the field.
“Higher earnings would allow these aspiring doctors to provide for their families even while they are in training. This worry about not earning enough is often a deterrent for many Emirati men,” Dr Al Tunaiji added.
Abu Dhabi’s medical residency targets more medical students
The emirate of Abu Dhabi will soon begin to produce about 150 certified doctors every year, a top medical official told Gulf News Tuesday.
The doctors will receive graduate medical training under the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company’s residency programme, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in the United States.
“This internationally accredited programme allows medical students in the UAE to pursue their postgraduate training here, and enables them to visualise a viable career path in the medical sector,” said Dr Ali Al Obaidli, chief clinical officer at Seha.
The Seha residency programme was accredited by the ACGME, which certifies most medical training programmes in the United States, in 2012. It churned out its first batch of graduates in 2016, and there are 91 new graduates, including 65 Emiratis, this year. They were trained at six health care entities across the emirate, including at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, Corniche Hospital, Tawam Hospital, Mafraq Hospital, Al Ain Hospital and primary clinics under the Ambulatory Healthcare Services.
“The Abu Dhabi Government also provides scholarships for medical students who wish to obtain graduate medical training abroad, and there are about 140 such scholars who are expected to graduate from programmes outside the UAE,” Dr Al Obaidli said.