x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dr Fatima Al Dhaheri said academia, as a career, requires passion.

Dr Fatima Al Dhaheri, a teaching assistant in the Department of Paediatric Medicine at UAE University, says that the world of academia is challenging and exhausting, and requires a passion for the role. Christopher Pike / The National
Dr Fatima Al Dhaheri, a teaching assistant in the Department of Paediatric Medicine at UAE University, says that the world of academia is challenging and exhausting, and requires a passion for the role. Christopher Pike / The National

AL AIN // Fatima Al Dhaheri is part of the new generation of Emirati academics coming up through the ranks at UAE University.

A teaching assistant in the Department of Paediatric Medicine, she is preparing to travel to the US to study for her PhD.

But Dr Al Dhaheri, 24, believes many young Emiratis are reluctant to make the commitment necessary for a career in academia.

“Academia perhaps isn’t exactly the field you go to when you look for greener pastures, financially speaking at least,” she said. “It’s challenging, time and energy-consuming and requires a lot of patience.

“I think new graduates would rather join the workforce and have a kick-start from there, rather than go back to the same environment where they have been proving themselves for years as students.

“You need to be utterly passionate to delve into academia.”

It was Dr Al Dhaheri’s passion that drove her to become a student representative in the undergraduate curriculum committee at the College of Medicine, discussing education, student progress and faculty development.

“I found myself truly invested in every meeting to raise student concerns and vote on executive decisions regarding curriculum.

“I also love the dynamics of the job. I can teach, be involved in education and student affairs, work on research and still be a practicing doctor and see patients.

“If this is not the perfect deal, I don’t know what is.”

She said giving students more input about the curriculum could be a draw.

“I think once students realise they have a say regarding their own education, they would consider coming back and becoming key players in developing the very system that helped them become who they are today,” she said.

The lack of men in academia, she said, was merely a reflection of the university’s student body, which is about 70 per cent female.

“I think it goes back to the original question as to why this ratio exists when enrolling university freshmen.

“However I think women generally are more patient when it comes to academics – that’s why we see more women graduating as doctors.”

mswan@thenational.ae