x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Doctors become scholars for a day

Female paramedics in training showcase their knowledge at Abu Dhabi Medical Congress.

ABU DHABI // Paramedic students lectured doctors yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress, with surprising results.

Scholars from the Dubai Women's College (DWC), an institution of the Higher Colleges of Technology, spoke to medical professionals on issues such as resuscitation and reading electrocardiograms.

Dr Ghazi Lutf, an emergency doctor at Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said he did not expect to learn so much from the students.

"I thought it would be boring," he said. "This information we're dealing with every day, so I expected them to repeat what we knew, but we've learnt some really interesting things, especially in resuscitation."

Health workers who attend the events can gain professional development points that are vital for them to renew their licence each year.

"It's important to have Emiratis in these jobs," said Hend Saeed, 19, who is in her final year of the three-year diploma programme.

"People still think of it as low- level work, just carrying people, but we save lives. Our mothers and grandmothers refuse to be treated by foreign doctors, so it's so important for Emiratis to be in these positions. Coming to events like this helps us to promote the profession. People are always surprised by how much we know."

Ms Saeed and her fellow students are sponsored by the Dubai Ambulance Service, ensuring they have employment as soon as they complete their studies.

"This is a chance to showcase what Emiratis can do," said Ronald Blough, programme co-ordinator at DWC. "It's fun and very rewarding to watch students teaching. Emiratis are never given enough credit. If given the right opportunities, they can do these things well."

Dr Hussein al Masalameh has been an emergency doctor for 12 years and also works at Mafraq. He said he, too, was surprised by how much the sessions with the students taught him.

"We should keep updated for medical information for our work and to do the best job," he said. "We've really learnt some new stuff here. For example, in some kinds of cardiac arrests, it's more harmful to give them oxygen. This is very new to us. This came out only Monday from the American Heart Foundation."

Mazen Naeim, also an emergency doctor at Mafraq, said a key skill in the profession is communication and relaying expertise.

"For both sides, we learn by this kind of communication," he said.

Before HCT launched its Advanced Life Support Paramedic programme in 2003, in partnership with the Harrisburg Area Community College, Pennsylvania, US, there were no qualified personnel to respond to emergency calls and no training in the field.