08 Apr 2018 - 10:11
Qatar’s healthcare getting more women hands
By Fazeena Saleem | The Peninsula
DOHA: Healthcare is a growing career interest among young Qatari women as many of them are taking the lead in the country’s health system.
Sidra Medicine, a member of Qatar Foundation — a specialty health care organisation for children, young people and women, has several Qatari women in different clinical roles such as nurses, allied health professionals, physicians, doctors and researchers.
The Peninsula spoke with two outstanding professionals, Dr Aisha Ahmad Yousuf, Director of Reproductive Medicine; and Maha Al Ghanem, Clinical Nurse, Obstetrics, Diagnostic Department.
Women’s care at Sidra Medicine is divided into obstetrics and gynecology. It offers all related services except for oncology.
Dr. Aisha was inspired by H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser’s vision for QF and was one of the first cohort of Qatari female physicians to join Sidra Medicine. She was also among the first batch of students graduated from the Weil Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q). She later went to the University of Michigan Hospital and completed her specialisation in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She then went to University of Toronto, St.Michael’s Hospital, and completed a sub-speciality fellowship programme. Dr Aisha is now a specialist in minimally invasive gynecology surgery as well as in robotic surgery in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Sidra.
“I had the privilege of meeting Sheikha Moza, at my high school for a special event that was hosted for high achievers. I was inspired by her vision for QF and Education City and that set me on the path to join WCM-Q.
My family and I were so proud that I was in the first batch of students at WCM-Q and I am equally grateful for their support that enabled me to build my career so far.”
“After graduation Sidra Medicine sponsored me to complete my specialty and sub-specialty programmes. The thing with specialty programmes – it can take years as you develop your experience and hone your skills. I was away for eight years in the US and in Canada and was happy to be back to Qatar and join Sidra Medicine,” she said.
“I consider myself as an example of H H vision for Qatar — particularly for Education City. I see my journey from student to an employee coming full circle as I graduated from an Education City university, and then back to working at Sidra Medicine, a QF entity. And I know there are many more like me. It really gives me pride to see many other amazing examples of Qatari women leading in different areas,” she added.
Dr Aisha’s keenness in women’s healthcare and serving the community has been a long time interest. “I was always interested in women’s health specifically related to reproductive health. This applies to whether she is young, a teenager or undergoing hormonal or menstrual changes and after menopause. I also believe, women in this part of the world connect to other females easily and I personally think I can harness my passion to do a lot to help deliver great care to women,” she said.
Dr Aisha also sees a growing interest among young Qatari women in the healthcare field as well as parents encouraging their daughters to pursue medicine.
“It is very encouraging to see more females entering into the field of medicine, it is definitely a growing career choice and I hope more women continue to join the industry. We are very lucky to have the opportunities available to us here in Qatar. With two medical schools in the country – the opportunities have widened as it takes away the challenges for having to travel abroad to study medicine. We now have access to international programs here in the country.”
Family support plays a major part in one’s achievements, and it was not an exception for Dr Aisha. “One of the key things to being successful in any profession is family support. Going to a medical school and travelling abroad for studies wouldn’t have happened without the support of my parents,” she said.
In addition, having examples of women in healthcare in Qatar, is another motivating factor for young women. “We have many examples of women in leading roles in healthcare beginning with H E Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari, the Minister of Public Health, all way across other healthcare entities such as Hamad Medical Corporation; Primary Health Care Corporation and as well as at Sidra Medicine,” she said.
Maha Al Ghanem; pics: Baher Amin / The Peninsula
Similar to Dr Aisha, another dynamic Qatari female healthcare professional at Sidra Medicine is Maha Al Ghanem. She works as a Clinical Nurse, in the Obstetrics, Diagnostic Department.
With an older sister as a medical doctor, healthcare was not far from Maha’s mind as a career of choice. She initially studied human nutrition and then joined the University of Calgary in Qatar. She too was sponsored by Sidra Medicine under its national development program, dedicated to encouraging more Qataris to join the healthcare sector. Maha was one of the first nurses to join Sidra Medicine.
“I have been part of Sidra Medicine since the beginning. I joined as a fresh graduate and got the chance to take part in many of the foundational elements like setting up the clinical environment and developing guidelines. My journey with Sidra Medicine has been a great learning experience,” said Maha.
“Because I was joining a greenfield hospital, I wouldn’t have been able to have the same opportunity at any other hospital,” she added.
Recently Maha has taken charge as an assistant clinical nursing manager at the women’s clinic. Maha is a mother of two young children and she got married while studying at the University of Calgary in Qatar. “I am very grateful for having good family support. Both my parents and in laws have backed me all the way to pursue my career in healthcare,” she said.
While many Qatari girls, see nursing as a challenging profession, Maha says the benefits and the opportunities are vast and encourage more Qatari girls to consider pursuing it as a career.
“Nursing is a noble profession and its image in our society should change. I hope this will encourage more Qatari women to take up nursing as a profession. We have a very unique opportunity to provide care and services for our people in an environment that is caring, innovative and allows one to learn life and career skills every step of the way. The support that Sidra Medicine provides for its nationals is very comprehensive — both as a sponsored student and once you join the organization. Your journey of education and development continues,” she said.