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Addressing the gaps in health sciences education

Article-Addressing the gaps in health sciences education

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The limitations of a traditional approach to the education of the healthcare workforce have resulted in a global effort to redesign curriculums.

Health sciences education continues to evolve today as future physicians will encounter patients in quite different healthcare contexts from the present. Exponentially expanding medical knowledge requires physicians to update what they know, shared Dr Khalil Yousef, Associate Professor – Health, School of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Health, University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD). In an interview, he highlights the current gaps in health sciences education and the importance of continuous training. Excerpts:

What are the current gaps in traditional health sciences education?

Evidence shows that patient safety depends on the quality of the workplace culture. In particular, the working relationship among all multidisciplinary healthcare team members (physiotherapists, pharmacists, social workers, doctors and nurses). The traditional approach to the education and preparation of healthcare professionals has been likened to ‘silos’. Rarely do students from different disciplines get the chance to learn with and from each other until they have graduated. Once they graduate, they are then expected to work together harmoniously. Successful teamwork, however, depends on understanding and, in turn, respecting what/how each team member contributes to achieving the primary goal: high-quality patient care and outcomes. The limitations of this traditional approach to the education of the healthcare workforce resulted in a global effort to redesign the curriculums to include opportunities for the different professional groups to learn and practice together throughout their undergraduate education. 

How important is it for doctors to get training in clinical leadership, patient quality/safety, and digital health informatics?

It is very essential! All undergraduate curricula for medical education now include knowledge and skill development opportunities to ensure a level of competency in each of these areas. Essential to remember is the need to review this knowledge and skill on a regular basis through well-structured programmes of performance  evaluation and accompanying continuing education opportunities.

Khalil Yousef

Dr Khalil Yousef

What are the top five trends shaping the future of health sciences?

The top five trends include artificial intelligence, digital informatics, effective utilisation of big data generated by electronic medical records, escalating costs resulting in a significant drain on the GDP of any country and movement of care away from hospitals and into home/community.

What’s the biggest challenge in facing these trends?

It is important to educate healthcare professionals who have been working in the healthcare system for several decades and upskill them to adapt successfully to this rapidly changing workspace.

What does the future of health sciences education look like to you?

Ideally, individuals interested in developing a career in medicine/health should be given the opportunity to learn and experience the scope of different disciplines in health during their first years of undergraduate education. This could be in the form of all students having to complete a foundation year in Health Science. During this time, they get to confirm whether or not a career in allied health, medicine or nursing is what they expected and, therefore, want before embarking on the additional years of study.

What is UOWD doing to deliver the future of health sciences education?

We are actively engaging with key stakeholders throughout the UAE health system that provides us with the information needed to ensure that our curriculums adapt to and meet the industry’s needs.


This article appears in the Daily Dose 2023. Read the full issue online today.

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