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College of Medicine & Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University

Arab World Awards

Hamdan Award for the Best Medical College/Institute or Centre in the Arab World

The College of Medicine and Health Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University (COMHS-SQU) was established in 1986 with the inauguration of the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU); the leading national university in the Sultanate of Oman. COMHS contains 19 academic departments and employs 75 academics, of whom 25 are clinicians, and 214 clinical tutors at the University Hospital (SQUH). The latter shares the responsibility of delivering the MD Program with the aid of another 115 clinical tutors in other affiliated Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals. Additionally, there are 41 administrative, 49 technical and 9 research staff. The annual intake capacity of the MD Program is 130 students and by June 2014 a total of 1,825 doctors graduated from the COMHS-SQU.

The MD Program requires a minimum of six years to complete. Its curriculum is student-centered, outcome-based. A set of clinical presentations with early clinical exposure and community involvement make the base of the curriculum; it includes a research component and provides medical students an option to obtain a Bsc. (Health Sciences) Degree in addition to the MD Degree, through an additional academic year. The program encourages students to practice self-learning and tutors to apply experiential teaching. In addition to the MD Program, the College offers a Biomedical Sciences Program that awards a BSc Degree with annual intake capacity of 25 students, a Master in Biomedical Sciences Program (started in 2001) and a PhD Program (started in 2009).

The College has excellent facilities which are equipped with latest technology. Clinical teaching is conducted in SQUH and MOH hospitals in both ambulatory and non-ambulatory settings; also, in the College’s Skills Lab which contains educational aids in the form of audiovisual simulators, computer programs, models and manikins. It is also equipped to utilize simulated/real patients for teaching. In addition, the Lab is linked to SQUH operation rooms for direct online teleconferencing.

The research capability of the College is progressively growing, and it currently enjoys reasonable facilities, human resources and opportunities for funding (on competitive basis) from the College, SQU and The [national] Research Council. Its publications output did not reach a steady-state yet. Since 1993, the total number of research projects that were conducted by College staff totaled 817 of which 201 were funded (USAED44m), which led to 3,521 local, regional and international publications. As a complementary measure to its research activities, the College launched SQU Medical Journal in 1997, which is archived in PubMed Central and indexed by SCOPUS.

On national, regional and international platforms, the College is well recognized and plays an active role to perpetuate its mission in advancing medical service, education and research. In addition, it leads many community reach-out activities. The College and SQUH clinicians were instrumental in establishing the Oman Medical Specialties Board, and these clinicians are central to operate the activities of the Board. A number of the College/SQUH departments are recognized as centers for international professional examinations with their clinicians as examiners for these tests. The most notable recent achievement of the College is the accreditation of its MD Program in November 2013 for a period of ten years by the Association for Medical Education in the Eastern Mediterranean Region in association with the World Federation for Medical education (WFME).

The College Management applies routinely an array of continuous improvement activities. Centrally, all these activities are organized by the College and SQUH Boards that receive feedback from departments, units, committees, external examiners as well as individuals and take the necessary action as appropriate. Recently, the College established the Accreditation and Quality Management Committee to coordinate these activities.

Based on the Accreditation team evaluation and recommendation, the College of Medicine and Health Sciences fulfills 92% of the 36 WFME Global Standards, of which 33 were completely fulfilled and 3 were partly fulfilled. Therefore the medical education programme has a lot of strength and this signifies a rare and remarkable achievement.

The college has managed to create a spirit of collective pride and belief that change is for the better. International open door policies are beneficial both for further development of medical education at the Sultan Qaboos University, and also to the international community to improve the quality of medical education.

The College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University made outstanding contributions towards higher education with innovative curriculum and approach, internationally competitive research and provision of excellent clinical services to the Arab World, therefore it deserves to be presented with Hamdan Award for Medical College/Institute or Centre in the Arab World for the term 2013 - 2014.