A Snapshot of Nursing in Qatar

By Nehring, Virginia | Nursing Education Perspectives, September-October 2003 | Go to article overview

A Snapshot of Nursing in Qatar


Nehring, Virginia, Nursing Education Perspectives


Between September 2002 and February 2003, shortly before the military action in Iraq, Virginia Nehring served on the faculty of the College of Science in Doha, Qatar For her second experience as a Fulbright scholar--she taught nursing in Africa in 1994--Dr Nehring sought to experience an entirely different region of the world, one where English would be spoken and understood. When she made her decision to work in Qatar, a small peninsula nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia, the country was not well known to Americans. Now it is known as Central Command headquarters for the American military during the Iraq military action and as the home of Al Jazeera, the influential television news and opinion station for the Middle East. * During her stay in Qatar. Dr. Nehring became the fourth, and only non-Egyptian, doctorally prepared faculty person in the nursing unit of the College of Science. Besides teaching courses such as ethics and issues and trends, she carefully assessed the nursing program, much as an accreditation site visitor might do, with feedback to university administration as well as the nursing unit. She left the region shortly before the military action began.

QATAR IS A MODEL OF SOCIAL CHANGE. Its citizens have recently ratified the country's first constitution, which represents a first step toward democracy. A strong ally of the United States, Qatar is of great strategic importance and the source of the second largest gas reserves in the world. British and European companies, as well as American companies, have offices there.

Qatar is also of interest to nurses, if only because it is a strong competitor for recruiting nurses. Nurses from throughout the world, including the Philippines, are being recruited in large numbers to meet the health care needs of a rapidly growing country. While American nurses might be reluctant to accept employment in Qatar due to concerns about living in a dictatorship or a conservative Muslim country, Qatar is accepting of westerners. Its official faith is Wahhabi, the strictest variant of Islam, but almost 10 percent of the country are of other faiths. Tourist photos show women covered in abbayas, but non-Qatari women will feel comfortable and be culturally appropriate in modest western clothing, namely long skirts and long-sleeved, high-necked blouses that keep the sun off the skin.

Almost 80 percent of all people residing in Qatar are expatriates, recruited because of their professional expertise and credentials or to fill unskilled labor positions the Qatari do not wish to fill. Most expatriates eagerly accept employment opportunities in Qatar due to the high salaries offered and very low living costs.

Nursing Practices in Qatar Like many developed nations, Qatar has a national health program based on excellent primary health care. The capital and outlying cities are dotted with clinics that are totally free to citizens and available at unbelievably minimal cost to an expatriate or visitor. As Qatar is a wealthy country, physicians from all over the world are employed as specialists and assure the highest quality secondary care needed by residents.

Qatar has had a long-standing policy of sending its brightest students to English-speaking countries to obtain graduate degrees and bring their knowledge and expertise home. Thus, even while the focus on primary care is maintained, the health care provided in hospitals and health care agencies is excellent. Adequate funds are available to buy the latest technology.

Health care is rapidly becoming more westernized, with hospitals built on the Western model. After one of Saudi Arabia's major hospitals applied for, and received, JCAHO accreditation, Qatar's Ministry of Health decided that its primary governmental hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, should be of equally high quality. The current director of nursing of Hamad Medical Corporation is Dr. Nabila al-Meer, who worked several years in the United States to obtain her graduate degrees.

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