Strengthening International Medical Education with joint UAB Exchange Programme

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In the fast-evolving landscape of international education, the importance of cross-border partnerships cannot be overstated. The collaboration between the UAB International Medical Education at the Heersink School of Medicine and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) Medical University of Bahrain stands as a model of the transformative power of international medical education exchange programmes. What began as a modest initiative with a few RCSI Medical University of Bahrain medical students visiting UAB medical school has now flourished into a dynamic, multifaceted partnership that benefits students from both institutions, fostering a deeper understanding of diverse healthcare practices worldwide.

Under the visionary leadership of Dr Majd Zayzafoon, Assistant Dean of International Medical Education at UAB School of Medicine, the groundwork for this leading partnership was laid. Through in-depth discussions and consultations with the leadership at both UAB and RCSI Medical University of Bahrain, a robust and mutually enriching collaboration was established. This partnership has significantly broadened the educational horizons of medical students from both universities, offering them a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the diverse aspects of global medical practices.

At the heart of this collaboration is the exchange programme that allows final-year medical students from RCSI Medical University of Bahrain to engage in hands-on clinical electives at UAB Hospitals and clinics. This critical experience not only equips these students with practical insights into the intricacies of US-based medical training but also instills in them a profound appreciation for the diverse approaches to healthcare delivery. Through this immersive experience, RCSI Medical University of Bahrain students not only fine-tune their clinical skills but also cultivate a deep-seated global perspective that is increasingly essential in today's interconnected healthcare landscape.

Furthermore, this collaboration serves as a platform for the cultivation of cross-cultural connections between RCSI Medical University of Bahrain and UAB. The exchange programme not only facilitates clinical training but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and understanding among the students of both institutions. The shared experiences and the exchange of ideas foster a collaborative spirit that transcends geographical boundaries and nurtures a global network of future medical professionals committed to excellence and cultural understanding.

"The partnership between UAB and RCSI Medical University of Bahrain has significantly contributed to the professional growth and development of the participating students. The exposure to diverse medical practices and perspectives has not only enriched their academic knowledge but has also broadened their understanding of global healthcare systems," states Dr Majd Zayzafoon, Assistant Dean for International Medical Education.
The success of the International Visiting Medical Student (IVMS) programme is evident in the feedback and achievements of the RCSI Medical University of Bahrain students, who after graduation have been successful at securing residencies in prestigious institutions in the US or the UK in the past couple of years.

Supported by the positive outcomes and eager to further strengthen the collaboration, UAB International Medical Education is thrilled to announce that RCSI Bahrain has been included as one of the elective destinations for the 2024 UAB Medical Student Enrichment Programme (MSEP). The MSEP programme enables UAB medical students to gain firsthand experience through a comprehensive medical training-based study abroad opportunity, fostering a deeper understanding of global healthcare practices.

"The exchange programme has not only enriched the educational experience of our students but has also reinforced our commitment to fostering a global perspective within our medical community," highlights Dr Craig Hoesley, Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education.
Professor Alfred Nicholson, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Head of School of Medicine at RCSI Medical University of Bahrain, commented: “We are delighted with the UAB agreement and the opportunity for our medical students to gain clinical experience in the US. We also look forward to welcoming UAB medical students to Bahrain and we are grateful to Bahrain’s Higher Education Council for their endorsement of this initiative.”

The RCSI Medical University of Bahrain and UAB medical students are excited about this collaborative opportunity, emphasising how the programme has broadened their horizons and provided them with a unique perspective on medical practices worldwide. This partnership stands as a testament to the transformative impact of international collaborations in shaping the next generation of medical professionals equipped with a truly global outlook.
“I believe I was privileged to participate in the UAB's 4-week IVMS programme, in which I completed an elective in the Infectious Diseases department. This elective deepened my understanding of the management of Infectious Diseases in the USA. UAB’s diverse patient population and the faculty dedication to teaching greatly broadened my perspective, and I am truly grateful for this valuable and enriching experience”, says Ms Aya Abdoh a final year medical student at RCSI Medical University of Bahrain.