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Preparing a new generation of physicians through integrated training

Article-Preparing a new generation of physicians through integrated training

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Specialised training programmes will help internal medicine doctors-in-training learn about emerging digital health solutions.

Integrated training programmes are the need of the hour. As a speciality, nephrology has benefitted tremendously from innovators and pioneers who, with cross-disciplinary collaborations, established dialysis by the 1980s as an effective option for end-stage kidney disease. Dialysis remains the most successful artificial organ support programme, benefiting millions worldwide.

But this speciality is now at a crossroads; globally, more than 850 million people are suffering from chronic kidney disease, and providing dialysis is very expensive. The U.S. government alone spends one per cent of its federal budget on dialysis, an unaffordable financial cost for many parts of the world.

Kidney care professionals must re-examine the current model of kidney care and develop new solutions to address the growing epidemic of kidney disease. This means cultivating a new generation of innovators – out-of-the-box thinkers and problem-solvers – trained for the future of work.


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Participants at the "Engineering Safer Care with a Systems View of Analytics" workshop held at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City. This was led by Dr. Mecit Can Emre Simsekler in conjunction with Khalifa University's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Innovation in science and engineering has been the dominant source of productivity gains and new advances. In addition, healthcare delivery has become increasingly complex and technology-oriented; hence healthcare professionals need to be technology and science savvy to deliver effective healthcare now and in the future.

In addition to managing human and financial resources, healthcare leaders will need entrepreneurial skills, an understanding of the role of human-centred innovation, and the ability to implement emergent technologies to bring growth and value to their respective organisations.

To this end, the internal medicine residency programme team at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) in the UAE has set up an innovation track for trainees, with support from SSMC Education leadership — Dr. Deanne Kashiwagi Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Internal Medicine Training Program Director, and Dr. Tahir Mehmood, Associated Internal Medicine Program Director.

Leading one of the largest internal medicine training programmes in the UAE, SSMC integrated the concepts of innovation, technology management, and entrepreneurship to enable future leaders to advance the current model of healthcare delivery and improve patient outcomes. Most of our trainees are Emiratis, who will evolve into leaders in UAE healthcare, not just in nephrology but in other medical sub-specialities as well.

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Workshop on Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare in partnership with Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI).

Key learning objectives

  1. Create an innovative learning environment and rich ecosystem to facilitate working across disciplinary boundaries to solve complex problems in the medical environment.
  2. Design a development path to prepare trainees to lead within and across interdisciplinary organisations, such as hospitals, healthcare start-ups, healthcare regulators, etc.
  3. Develop a keen understanding of and the ability to exploit a rapidly changing technological environment.

The programme aims to create a learning environment to help trainees become familiar with the impact of machine learning and artificial intelligence on healthcare. Students learn how technology can generate safer care using point-of-care sensors, telemedicine, and cloud computing-based digital health solutions, as well as the principles of design thinking to equip them to become agents of change.

The next few decades will radically transform how patient care is delivered. Some changes are inevitable because the current model is financially unsustainable; others will come from big tech and other large institutions who look increasingly to healthcare as an opportunity for financial growth

Gone are the days in healthcare where one could master one skillset and hope to practice this until retirement. The next generation will have to constantly evolve and innovate to survive the tremendous change on the horizon. As educators, we are responsible for preparing them for this exciting future. 


Siddiq Anwar is the Consulant Nephrologist at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC).

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