Cornell bridges boundaries with pioneering approach to medical education in the Middle East

11/04/05

First American M.D. degree program outside the United States

Washington-- Cornell University is bridging cultural boundaries and setting new standards for medical education in the Middle East with its pioneering medical college in the Gulf State of Qatar.

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) offers students in the region an unprecedented opportunity to access a world-class medical education without having to travel thousands of miles from home to the United States.

Cornell University established the campus in partnership with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, following an agreement signed in April 2001. The inaugural class is now in the second year of the four year Medical Program and students who graduate will be the first in the world to receive an American M.D. degree outside the United States.

WCMC-Q is exhibiting for the first time at the annual conference of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington from 4-9 November. On show are some of the latest developments in its unique six-year pre-medical and medical curriculum. Visitors to the WCMC-Q stand will have an opportunity to discover the innovative ways in which the curriculum is being delivered to medical students in Qatar, through the use of technology.

Techniques include streaming video, video conferencing, a distributed e-library, virtual microscopy and hand held personal digital assistants all backed by a wireless IT network and high speed connections with the United States. Other state of the art facilities at WCMC-Q include the first Clinical Skills Centre in the Middle East which is an essential part of the training and licensing of physicians in the U.S.

"Our college in Qatar represents a significant extension of Cornell's global presence, affirming its commitment to provide the highest standard of medical education to students both within and outside the United States," said Dr Antonio Gotto, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Provost for Medical Affairs at Cornell University.

Students enrolled at WCMC-Q follow the highly successful curriculum developed at Weill Medical College of Cornell University based in New York, one of the United States' foremost centers of medical education, research and patient care.

All teaching is by Cornell faculty and, upon completion of the program, students will receive the same degree that is awarded by Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. "WCMC-Q shares the triple mission of Weill Medical College: education, research and patient care," stated Dr Daniel Alonso, Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.

WCMC-Q offers a complete medical education leading to the Cornell University M.D. degree. The integrated program of study has been designed for students in the Middle East, and comprises the two-year Pre-medical Program followed by the four-year Medical Program.

Academic standards are high and the admission requirements are the same as those at Cornell in the United States.

The student body at WCMC-Q is internationally diverse drawn from 20 countries across 4 continents. There are 129 students in total spread over 4 years, in 2 pre-medical and 2 medical classes with the first graduation due in 2008. Students live and work in the safe environment of Education City, established on a vast 2,500-acre site on the outskirts of Qatar's thriving capital, Doha.

Through an Affiliation Agreement with the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), WCMC-Q's medical students gain exposure to patient care in primary healthcare centers and hospitals of the HMC from an early stage. HMC hospitals will also be the setting for their clinical clerkships in the third and fourth years of study.

In addition, the Qatar Foundation has plans underway to construct a 350-bed Specialty Teaching Hospital (STH) close to the Medical College in Education City. Supported by an endowment of $8 billion, the STH is set to open in 2010.

"The STH will have state-of-the-art clinical programs focused on women's and children's conditions, and academic and research programs directed by WCMC faculty. Together, they will form the first American-style academic medical center in the region," Dr Alonso said.

WCMC-Q is still in its formative years. Nevertheless, it is already established as an exciting international first in medical education, bringing a leading American university to the Middle East with a full M.D. degree program. It is a model for delivering the highest standard of medical education across geographic and cultural boundaries.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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