Posted on February 18, 2015

High school students spent two weeks at WCMC-Q discovering what life as a medical student is like in the annual Winter Qatar Medical Explorer Program. Twenty-five students from nine schools were invited to WCMC-Q to take part in the program, which gave them the opportunity to hear lectures from senior faculty members, take part in a series of workshops, quiz current medical students about their experiences and conduct experiments in the college’s laboratories.

The Winter Qatar Medical Explorer Program, which is aimed at high school students in grades 10, 11 and 12, is designed to give the students a comprehensive introduction to college life and the study of medicine, and to give them an idea of the many different career paths a medical degree can offer.

Following an introductory session at the beginning of the program with Noha Saleh, director of student recruitment and outreach at WCMC-Q, and Syed Ahmed Hasnain, programs manager, the students spent their two weeks exploring almost every area of the college and its curriculum. They were given introductions to biology, chemistry and physics, both in lectures and in the labs, and visited the Clinical Skills Center to learn how to work with standardized patients and discover more about the heart with Harvey, the center’s lifelike mechanical dummy. Dr. Rachid Bendriss, assistant dean for student recruitment, outreach and foundation programs, spoke to the students about reading strategies for college, while Dr. Rodney Sharkey, associate professor of English, gave sessions on understanding poetry and narratives. The students were also introduced to the college’s state-of the-art distributed eLibrary.

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The second week featured sessions on careers in medicine, adolescent health, pharmacology and medical ethics, plus a visit to Qatar Robotic Surgery Center at Qatar Science & Technology Park. The students received guidance on how to write effective personal statements and techniques for succeeding in college admissions interviews. Throughout the program the students worked in small groups to produce presentations on a health-related topic to deliver on the penultimate and the final days of the program, which then ended with a closing ceremony on Thursday 5 February.

Noha Saleh explained that the Winter Qatar Medical Explorer Program presents a great opportunity for students considering a career in medicine.

She said: “The program, part of our Cornell Enrichment series, gives the students the chance to explore the college, our curriculum, and all the many exciting possibilities presented by a career in medicine with a great level of depth. They go to classes, interact with faculty and current students and are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner by practicing good timekeeping and meeting deadlines for assignments, just as our students are.”

Dr. Rachid Bendriss, assistant dean, outreach and foundation programs, said: “The aim is to provide a truly immersive experience so that they can get a very accurate impression of what it would be like to become a fully-fledged medical student at WCMC-Q. If they find the experience stimulating and inspiring, that is a very good indication that they will gain a great deal of satisfaction from both studying and working in medicine.”

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The students were drawn from a variety of schools across Qatar and were selected based on their academic aptitude and their interest in the sciences. The high schools represented on this year’s program were Mosaab Bin Omair School for Boys, Al Wakra Independent School for Girls, Al Wakra Independent School for Boys, Al-Eman School for Girls, Al Bayan Secondary School, Global Academy International School, Qatar Independent Secondary School, Amna Bint Wahab Independent School for Girls and Michael E. DeBakey High School – Qatar. This year, 20 of the 25 students who took part were Qatari nationals.

Hissa Mohammed, aged 16, of Al Bayan Secondary School, explained why she was keen to participate in the program. She said: “I am fascinated by biology and how the human body works and I am very interested in learning about all the different things that can go wrong with it and how to fix them. “I’m motivated to study medicine both by a desire to help people and by my interest in biology. It has been very useful to come here because I have learned about the different fields of medicine and about what it is like to be a student and spend time in the labs doing experiments. It has been very exciting.”