RCSI Bahrain reinforces its commitment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Bahrain

RCSI Bahrain remains committed to deliver the quality education its students deserve to succeed, as well as enhance health in Bahrain through its involvement in the community, despite the closure of national institutions on 26th February due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RCSI Bahrain’s President, Professor Sameer Otoom, immediately set up a Business Continuity Committee consisting of senior members of the RCSI Bahrain’s leadership team, to help pave the path forward and ensure that students carry on their journeys to success as seamlessly as possible.

Professor Otoom commented: “We are focused on keeping academic learning to the same level as an in-classroom scenario and facilitate remote teaching within the parameters set out by the Government Executive Committee. I am confident in our excellent faculty to deliver this promise, as staff at all levels are engaged in the process and continue their great commitment to graduating a high-level of healthcare professionals.”

The continuation of all scheduled classes and lectures according to the planned semester was achievable thanks to the existing capability of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which hosts a multitude of online sessions for students at different stages of their degree. The VLE provides students with numerous learning opportunities, in addition to resources which enhance traditional learning through digital means (for example - simulation, animation, 3-D modelling, and recorded lectures and tutorials for study and revision purposes). Since the closure of the RCSI Bahrain campus on February 26th, 90% of the nursing teaching and more than 75% of the medicine teaching has been delivered using Microsoft Teams in conjunction with the VLE.

Students also have access to the E-Library Portal, a virtual platform that is used to curate all the electronic resources required for curriculum support for academic staff, students and researchers. There are three comprehensive databases related to Medicine, Nursing & Midwifery, and Healthcare Management. Each of them allows users to access more than 8,000 journals, three clinical consults or guides, a selection of online ready reference tools, and several online journal collections.

To upgrade the learning and teaching process, RCSI Bahrain introduced Blackboard Collaborate, a web conferencing/webinar platform designed for use in online teaching, where academics create virtual classrooms and online meeting spaces to share presentation material and communicate with students through synchronous audio, video and chat tools.

In addition to continuing to facilitate academic teaching and examinations, RCSI Bahrain has been providing support through its representatives who have been actively involved on both community and national levels.

RCSI Bahrain’s Clinical Associate Professor in Microbiology and Bahrain Defence Force – Royal Medical Services Infectious Diseases Consultant, Professor Manaf Alqahtani, is actively engaged with and advising the Government on the management of COVID-19 as a member of the National Taskforce for Combating Coronavirus COVID-19.

Head of School of Postgraduate Studies and Research at RCSI Bahrain, Professor Stephen Atkin, has been invited to contribute to the national taskforce’s epidemiologic research and clinical trials working group, which aims to find improved ways of containing and combating COVID-19.

Post doctorate Research Associate at RCSI Bahrain, Dr Shefaa Al Asfoor, has been volunteering with the Ministry of Health at the Public Health Directorate laboratories.

RCSI Bahrain medical students have been volunteering with the Ministry of Health, Public Health Directorate, and working with the national taskforce to combat the virus after receiving the necessary training from the Ministry of Health to perform specific tasks.

Professor Otoom commented: “As a health sciences University, we praise the comprehensive measures which were taken by the government of Bahrain to contain the Coronavirus COVID-19 and has been commended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Our focus as a University has been to support the Kingdom’s recognised response to the containment of Coronavirus COVID-19, ensuring that our staff, students and stakeholders are kept well informed, national guidelines are being followed and the opportunity to support the national effort is being provided.”

RCSI Bahrain has worked tirelessly under the current circumstances to guarantee that the final year students graduate on time. This exceptional achievement was feasible thanks to the continuous support from the Higher Education Council (HEC) and our affiliated teaching hospitals.

This effort falls in line with our belief that at no other time has it been more important to our society that our highly skilled graduates join the workforce to help meet the healthcare needs of our communities nationally and internationally.

Through our Alumni community, international efforts are also underway. Dr Adri-Anna Aloia, 2019 School of Medicine graduate, has launched a fundraising initiative to support the donation and purchase of Personal Protective Equipment used by healthcare professionals in the fight against COVID-19 in North America.

Professor Otoom stated: “Many of our graduates are currently on the frontline dealing with this pandemic and to them we offer our sincere thanks and gratitude. The commitment of all healthcare professionals to assist communities across the globe during this challenging time is remarkable and a blessing to us all.”