Family medicine’s rapid establishment and early leadership role in Qatar’s health care system
Mohamud A Verjee,1 Mariam Ali Abdulmalik,2 Michael D Fetters3
1Department of Medical Education, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Qatar Foundation – Education City, Doha, Qatar; 2Primary Health Care Corporation, Doha, Qatar; 3Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, Michigan, USA
Abstract: Family medicine is a focus of health care in Qatar, and it has emerged as a primary care pioneer in the Arabian Gulf Region. Strong governmental financial support has underpinned family medicine development in the country, and through proactive health care policy, free or highly affordable health care is available to all citizens and expatriates in primary health care centers and hospitals. An Ivy League and world-class medical school, Weill Cornell Medical College in New York established a second campus in Qatar in 2001, and enrolled its first students in 2002. The inaugural class graduated in 2008, including one graduate who matched to a family medicine residency in the United States. The College has already earned a reputation for an emphasis on cultural sensitivity in the curriculum. Qatar also has a well-established family medicine residency program overseen by the Primary Health Care Corporation. Its inaugural class of family medicine residents began training in 1995 and graduated in 1999. In contrast to a trend of fluctuating interest in family medicine training in many developed countries, the demand for residency slots in Qatar has been consistently high. Since November 2012, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-International has approved all hospital-based residency positions. Formed in 2012, the Primary Health Care Corporation is dedicated to achieving accreditation for the family medicine residency in the near future. In 2011, Qatar’s 147 family physicians comprised about 18% of the total physician workforce. Through extended hours of operation at health centers, patients have ready access for acute care and follow-up consultations. Still, Qatar faces challenges including a projected population expansion from about 1.9 million in 2013 to 2.5 million people by 2020. Qatar’s National Primary Health Care Strategic Steering Group has recently submitted a new primary health care strategy to the government and identifies 12 challenges for the future of family medicine. Among these, ensuring access to clinical services that are patient and family centered, addressing the shortage of family physicians, expanding academic capacity, and increasing scholarly output are manifest.
Keywords: family medicine, Qatar, undergraduate medical education, residency training, Arabian Gulf Region
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