Qatar has a “severe shortage” of trained Qatari healthcare professionals, with only five nationals graduating as doctors each year, a senior Hamad Medical Corp. official has been quoted as saying.
The country needs 150 to graduate each year to meet increasing demand, he added.
In comments reported by the Arabic daily Al Raya, HMC’s Director of Medical Education Dr. Abdullatheef Al Khal said that Qatar has seen a decline in the number of locals training to be healthcare workers in the last decade, meaning that it has had to rely on staff brought in from abroad.
“We are facing a severe shortage of qualified citizens in the health sector, including nurses, dentists, pharmacists and other supporting staff such as in first aid,” Al Khal said.
The official was speaking at the launch of a government scholarship fund for Qatari students.
Under the scheme, which takes effect this fall, those given a grant will benefit from generous allowances of QR10,000 a month in the first year of their program, rising to QR26,000 a month for the fourth and subsequent years of study.
“I expect the money allocated for medical scholarship will encourage more Qataris to pursue medical education,” Al Khal added.
Qatari paramedics in training can receive a grant of QR9,000 a month under the scheme, which aims to support 21,000 nationals, encouraging them to study for careers which have been identified by the state as particularly in demand.
Throughout the Gulf, there has been a shortage of nationals studying and working in healthcare.
A report published early last year by management consultants McKinsey & Company found that hospitals and clinics across the region are relying on overseas recruits to help fill what is predicted to be a 240 percent increase in the demand for services by 2025.
At the time of publication, it said more than two-thirds percent of doctors and 91 percent of nurses in Qatar are recruited from abroad.
However, as many of these expats view their jobs as a temporary stopgap, the skill base within the country’s healthcare sector is constantly in flux, and results in varying training standards, cultures and procedures.
Qatar and other counries in the region should add incentives for its nationals to consider a healthcare career, the report concluded, adding:
“Better salaries, substantial investments in professional training and development (such as residencies) and more flexible careers made possible by a greater degree of private sector participation should all help to attract GCC Nationals.”
In a bid to help address the shortfall in qualified personnel, Qatar University announced late last year that it would be launching a new College of Medicine, with its first intake of undergraduate students expected this September.
So far, at least 23 students – including 17 Qataris – have been conditionally accepted to start the six-year MD program in what will be Qatar’s first public medical school, QU said.
Doa’a Hajir is one of the students due to start the new course.
In a Qatar University statement where some of the prospective students voiced their ambitions for after their graduation, she said:
“I aspire after six years of studying medicine to be able to help others and ease the pain and suffering of patients in hospitals. Diseases that have no cure were the focus of my research interest.
Since I was in high school I aspired to conduct research that contributes to finding treatments for such diseases, God willing. I plan to specialize in internal medicine after graduating from the college.”
The QU program expands the options for studying medicine in Qatar.
Previously, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar was the only university in the country offering a degree in medicine. The Qatar Foundation-affiliated university in Education City provides a six-year MD program that includes two years of classroom-based pre-medical training, followed by four years of medical training.
Qatari nurses are also particularly in demand. While the University of Calgary in Qatar (UCQ) offers a Bachelor of Nursing degree as well as a diploma in nursing and a masters program, uptake by Qatari students has previously been low, making up only a quarter of the student body.
As the state’s population continues to grow at around 9-10 percent each year, and with 200,000 people moving to the country last year, the burden on the healthcare sector is considerable.
Earlier this year, HMC launched an ambitious 15-year master plan to substantially increase its capacity, doubling the number of hospital beds and operating theaters in the country. However, the challenge remains to find the personnel needed to operate the new facilities.
Oh to be rich and solve every problem I face by throwing money at it.
Also a bit too late to start working on doctors now, they need at least ten years to be qualified.
What is wrong with giving incentives to recruit people? This is done everywhere that has the means to do so. Doctors in the US are among the highest paid.
I’m not saying it’s wrong per se, I’m just envious. Also it’s a lot of money, incentives are usually cutting the tuition fees or some sort of stipend to help the student survive, 26,000 QAR for a fourth year med student is a ridiculous amount of money.
Shortage of everything …. not only doctors! Maybe is time to think on nationalize “valuable resources” like highly qualified doctors … but now only those with UK/US/European passports (with only 3+ yrs in the country and not even arabic speakers) …. but those who have spent their life here … for sure there are a lot! … and by the way …. do the same with other sector … i.e. Perhaps is time to have Army Forces that are really “National” Army Forces!
What exactly do you mean? Are you trying to describe Qatarization?
To get 5 or 10 Qatari doctors every year these nationals could be sent to USA or Europe to get the best education n training and brought back rather than spending huge amounts on locally run Medical schools like WeillCornell.. Works out cheaper.
If the focus was on what’s cheaper, then rather than hosting the world cup in Qatar, they could instead have rented the 12 best stadiums all around the world and bought every fan a first class airline ticket and a 5 star hotel stay to attend ever match. There would be plenty of change out of the billions and billions and billions of dollars that has been budgeted to instead build stadiums and infrastructure.
These things aren’t a matter of prudent spending, they are a matter of national pride. There is no need to have any Qatari doctors as long as you are willing to pay money to foreign ones, but there is a lot of national pride to be derived from having Qatari doctors trained in Qatar at Qatari universities.
We all know how messed up the priorities are here.
WCMC-Q uses doctors and the full curriculum from its NY campus. Not sure you can call it “local”
It’s close but not parallel.
It is still locally run and funded. I agree if the objective is to educate Qataris in the medical profession sending them abroad is much cheaper. However, I believe the objective was also to establish a medical school in the country as part of the education objective and providing the opportunity for Qataris who do not want to spend more than 4 yrs abroad.
They also import more than 90% of the food needed. The dependence of Qatar on foreign services and products is frightening.
Considering the local population is about 10% of the total… 😉
Infinite luxurious life and less population are some of the main factors.
How can you expect to get a high proportion of any profession from such a small indigenous population, and especially from a country that has the worlds highest per capita wealth, a culture (despite the blurb) that doesn’t encourage females to excel, and as reported in DN some pretty average educational results? It would be interesting to read statistics on how many Qatari joined what profession each year.
To train and qualify as a doctor takes intense discipline. How much of that do we see here?
And patience! That is, of severe sever shortage in all sectors!
You say that as if “intense discipline” is the ordinary standard where you’re from, yet here we see a lot of those unemployables come to Qatar because they didn’t have the skills for the real world.
In academics, intense discipline is the norm across the globe if one intends to practice medicine.
I don’t see how this relates to my country of origin. It might apply to yours because my comment obviously struck a nerve.
How can you even define what is “intense discipline”? It’s all relative to the individual, not a “norm”.
Your stupidity is what is irritating, go back to your “country of origin” and be stupid there…oh wait, no job for dummies there.
Your own words are an appropriate response to your little rant:
“Your stupidity is what is irritating, go back to your “country of origin” and be stupid there…oh wait, no job for dummies there.”
What a horribly biased article. Weill Cornell is mentioned for one second and every year they have Qatari graduates. This coming year has the highest enrollment ever of locals. Why is this not mentioned? Cornell is doing an incredible job of graduating locals with an American Board certified degree and yet it is not mentioned. Did the author bother to contact Cornell to see how many Qataris are enrolled at WCMC-Q?
These are the words of HMC’s Director of Medical Education Dr. Abdullatheef. Please read properly before you comment and attack the journalist who is only reporting what has been said.
The article does not only state that quote. The journalist is also writing about QU and their school and other topics. The journalist should have done their due diligence and sought information from Cornell to see just how many students they are graduating. The author would have seen that they are graduating highly successful locals who are doing great work in their research and studies.
Can you back up your words with numbers? Because the five Qataris this guy is talking about are normally those graduating from Cornell, since there is no other medical school in Qatar!
I believe its 25 Qatari grads since 2008
I don’t think creating a medical school is the answer. To create a world class medical school needs time, money, experience and other resources. Maybe they should expand the Cornell school first?
There are Qatari medical professionals here. My cousin is a dentist, my other cousin is finishing up her nursing degree. I know three Qataris getting their medical education abroad, I’m sure there are more. I wonder if the author of the article checked with Sidra to see how many medical students they are sponsoring.
Being a Doctor was a popular profession here for females (along with teachers and secretaries) before other opportunities opened up when Qatar boomed. The amount of local doctors now are not proportionate to the population growth that Qatar has experienced. Also a lot of the older established doctors left and opened up their private practices. There hasn’t been any initiatives that I know of for any of the professions with severe shortages. Better late then never.
Well given the PISA rates who would have guessed that Qataris are not going onto higher education such as medical studies…. However we have nice shiny buildings, fountains and Villagio so all good, we just buy what we need and want, including people.
So Qatar till recently did not have a public medical school. I am stunned to know this. You would have thought for a country thats been independent for like 40 years, a public medical school would have been functioning ages ago. How old weil cornell?and did everyone who wanted to be a doctor before that travel abroad? That sounds ridiculous.