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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Research fellowships launched to encourage more Emirati nurses

The Moonshot programme is being led by VPS Healthcare, one of the region’s largest private care providers

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare. Delores Johnson / The National
Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare. Delores Johnson / The National

Fellowships are being offered to Emirati student nurses to entice more individuals into careers in clinical research.

The Moonshot programme is being led by VPS Healthcare, one of the region’s largest private care providers.

Managers hope that by offering the scheme, more candidates will join the industry and help change perceptions of the kind of work nurses do.

“Nurses, especially Emiratis, will have a critical role in facilitating new research and development in the UAE,” said Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare.

“As technology and science becomes increasingly complex, clinical research will play an even more important role in healthcare.

“We want these Moonshot fellowships to kick-start the journey towards achieving that.

“Hopefully, this agenda will help attract more candidates into the industry and change perceptions of the kind of work nurses can do.”

VPS Healthcare’s Burjeel Royal Hospital and Medeor 24x7 International Hospital in Al Ain are establishing annual research fellowships for Abu Dhabi’s Fatima College of Health Sciences students.

During the course, students will learn about management, organisational skills, teaching and mentoring, as well as communication and technology.

In September, health experts called on the government to boost nurses’ salaries in the UAE and reduce their hours as part of a wider effort to recruit more Emirati staff.

According to the latest government statistics, of the 7,000 nurses in Abu Dhabi Health Service Company (Seha) hospitals, just 124 are female Emiratis and only one is male.

Government hospitals currently pay Emirati nurses between Dh10,000 and Dh25,000 a month.

A shortage of nurses is becoming a global issue. By 2030, the World Health Organisation estimates the 31 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries will have a shortage of 750,000 physicians, 1.1 million nurses and 70,000 midwives.

“These fellowships are an important building block, not only for expanding medical research in the UAE, but also for creating new career pathways for nurses,” said Abdullah Al Neyadi, chairman of Al Bayt Mitwahid Association Executive Committee.

“The role and participation of nurses is critical to making this initiative a success.

“One of our main goals continues to be to encourage more Emiratis to join the healthcare sector, especially in the nursing field.”

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Five nursing students will be offered a two-week residential stay at top research institutions in the US under the Moonshot initiative.

To qualify, top grades at the Abu Dhabi’s Fatima College of Health Sciences are needed as well as an aptitude for research, with students having to present their research ideas.

Recipients of the fellowships will be announced in the second week of January and the programme will commence in the summer of 2019.

“These students will witness new horizons in research and development and will expand their perceptions when they participate with experts in medical research,” said Dr Ahmed Alawar, managing director of the Institute of Applied Technology that has training campuses in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah and Al Shahama.

“We have an advanced strategy to attract students by providing free monthly bonuses and training in health institutions to reach them to the highest levels and competencies required.”