Tech could someday let people even in dry climates
get clean water straight from the atmosphere›››
Experiential-learning opportunities can contribute toward molding a holistic 21st century physician. Accordingly, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has since 2016 operated a co-curricular program for Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) students called the MBRU-Summer Scholars Program (MBRU-SSP).
The key objective of this program is to provide students with a platform beyond the classroom setting that helps them acquire and integrate competences in research, clinical practice, community service, health systems and/or arts-and-culture.
Abiola Senok is chair of Basic Medical Sciences and professor of microbiology and infectious diseases, College of Medicine, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), Dubai, UAE.
Although the program is not integrated into curriculum, it is highly associated with and complementary to the curriculum, and hence referred to as co-curricular (as opposed to extracurricular). The program’s annual cycle entails three phases: preparation, implementation and evaluation. Throughout the cycle, there is substantial engagement of all stakeholders. This builds on the strengths and resources within the MBRU community and facilitates collaborative partnerships.
The voluntary program is unique as it is anchored in theories of experiential-learning. It upholds the institutional goals and is characteristically diverse. Learners select from an extensive array of offerings. This sets the MBRU-SSP apart from other experiential-learning opportunities that tend to focus on single domains.
To date, the MBRU-SSP has enabled student placements spanning one to six weeks at collaborating centers across 12 countries.
A multi-phased study, conducted at the end of the Academic Year 2018-2019, investigated the program’s effectiveness. The study’s first aim was to innovatively evaluate the quality of the experiential education and the value it offers. Secondly, this study explored, from a holistic social-constructionism perspective, the added value of the MBRU-SSP.
The first phase of this study relied on a sequential explanatory mixed-methods design, which systematically analyzed quantitative and qualitative data from program organizers, participating students and onsite mentors. The second phase involved carrying out focus-group sessions with randomly selected MBRU-SSP student participants. The collected data was then thematically analyzed.
Nerissa Naidoo is assistant professor of anatomy at MBRU College of Medicine.
The results of the quantitative component of the first phase of the study revealed that program organizers perceived the MBRU-SSP to be effective. Also, most participating students rated the overall quality of experience as excellent, and most onsite mentors rated students’ attendance as excellent.
The second phase of the study identified that the program yielded benefits at the individual-student and community-at-large levels. At the individual-student level, interlinked benefits were related to personal, academic and professional development.
“It helps you figure-out what you actually want and test if you really like what you think you like. During the semester, we are under a lot of pressure, there is no time to sit and reflect on matters and figure things out. During the placement, there is little to zero pressure, so you are kind of just enjoying learning and reflecting at your own pace.” — A second-year learner, after her second placement.
“It is so beneficial to reach the clinics with that much of knowledge and experience — it is so enriching.” — A third-year learner, after her fifth placement.
Farah Otaki is senior specialist at MBRU Strategy and Institutional Excellence.
Benefits identified at the community-at-large level were institutional advancement, contribution to host centers and giving back to the community.
“Students from other universities are surprised by the worthwhile exposure that we get early on in our educational path. It provides exposure to diverse opportunities.” — A third-year learner, after his third placement.
“The MBRU-SSP provides an opportunity to give back to the community, to serve others.” — A third-year learner, after his third placement.
Designing co-curricular programs in line with holistic learning theories, which foster learning as participation in the social world, can nurture holistic, humane, millennial physicians. It is important to systemically evaluate such co-curricular programs to effectively capture the value that they offer. The MBRU-SSP global-citizenship framework represents a unique model that can guide the development of similar worthwhile co-curricular programs in higher education.
Abiola Senok is chair of Basic Medical Sciences and professor of microbiology and infectious diseases, College of Medicine, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), Dubai, UAE. Nerissa Naidoo is assistant professor of anatomy at MBRU College of Medicine. Farah Otaki is senior specialist at MBRU Strategy and Institutional Excellence.