Abu Dhabi: Aisha Salama, a 28-year-old Emirati, was only 10 years old when she decided she wanted to become a doctor.
Despite social constraints, she fought against the odds and turned what was once a dream into reality.
Upon completing her higher education in medicine, Aisha's brothers disapproved of her wish to come from Bahrain to the UAE to pursue a career as an oncologist.
However, with her father's support and her own will-power, Aisha is among the first batch of Emiratis to complete her residency programme with the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) hospitals.
This is a training programme that follows standards set by the Arab Medical Board — a necessary step for doctors working in the UAE.
Aisha, with 38 Emirati healthcare professionals, completed her residency training after a four-year programme at Seha's teaching hospital.
This department runs several residency programmes in specialities that include internal medicine, paediatrics, family medicine, emergency medicine, dermatology, ophthalmology, radiology and general surgery.
"When I was a child, I fell ill, and admired the way my doctor dealt with my condition, and was fascinated with his stethoscope," Aisha said.
"It took 11 years of studying, and my journey is about to begin as an oncologist. I chose that speciality because it feels good to help critically ill patients till their last breath," said Aisha.
Another graduate, Ohood Al Nuami, 29, completed her medical degree at UAE University, and immediately started an internship training in Tawam Hospital. In her eagerness to become an internist, she joined the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City as part of the Seha residency programme.
Being a wife and mother did not stop Ohood from studying medicine for the past 12 years. "It's all about support," she said. "My husband's supportive, my mother helps take care of my child when I'm busy, and once my son's old enough, I intend to complete my fellowship abroad," she told Gulf News.
There are 250 Emirati students now in the four-year Seha residency programme, of whom 80 per cent are females, Dr Maher Al Hommos, Head, Education and Research at Seha said.
Dr Hommos said: "We're currently following the Arab Board standards for our training programme for doctors, however in efforts to help raise the calibre of graduates, we're soon going to become the second country in the world, after Singapore, to offer students a worldwide renown US programme known as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)".
Healthy numbers: Taking good care
Health Care professionals and facilities across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi
- 5,142 doctors
- 8,142 nurses
- 5,630 allied health professionals
- 7.1 per cent of health care professionals are Emiratis
- 25 per cent by 2015 is the expected number of Emiratis in the health care sector
- 1,077 licensed facilities out of which 39 are hospitals, 572 are centres and clinics, 467 are pharmacies and stores