Naji

Naji – postgraduate subspeciality training

Read about Naji, who received postgraduate subspeciality training in London:

Naji - postgraduate subspeciality training

“I started a two-year training programme in the Gynaecological Oncology Department in the UK in May 2016. In the beginning, I didn’t have high expectations about the quality of training I was going to have. But when I started my new post, I found that I had a great opportunity and I needed to get the maximum benefit out of it.

My training was mainly in the surgical management of women’s cancer at University College London Hospital (UCLH). It took me a short period until I felt like a member of the gynaecological oncology team. I can’t deny some difficulties at the beginning. With the support of my team and my FQMS mentor I managed to overcome them.

In a hospital like UCLH, I found highly skilled surgeons with a great amount of experience. They knew how to deal with trainees and transfer their experience to them. Also being in a city like London with a big population, exposed me to all kind of cases with good numbers. This helped me build up my experience and competence. In comparison, Palestine suffers from a lack of well-qualified trainers. Also due to the absence of big referral hospitals, the opportunities for good surgical gynaecological training are scare.

Now as I’m back home, I hope that I can use this training to contribute to raising the level of our healthcare system by transferring my experience and knowledge to new doctors.”

Read about the postgraduate training programme here

Mohammed

Mohammed’s elective

On 24th November 2015, I was accepted to do an elective in Oxford in July 2017. It was the most wonderful thing I have ever heard. I didn’t realise then that my way would be difficult.

My first visa expired before I could leave Gaza, because Rafah crossing was closed in June and July. I was offered a new position in November 2017, but again I was unable to reach Oxford, which was a real shock!

Finally, I managed to leave Gaza in 16th December 2017.

Mohammed

I only had two weeks left on my second visa. I had to try and figure out whether I could go directly and extend my visa from there. As it was nearing the Christmas break this wasn’t possible, so I decided to go to Jordan do an elective and reapply from there.

It was my first time outside of Gaza after many failed attempts. I was enthusiastic and, to be honest, a little afraid. Being away from my family is so challenging, but also I am working in two ways, the first is to do elective in Jordan, and the second is to get a new visa for the UK.

In Jordan, I did 1-month-rotation in the Surgical Department in Jordan University Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Nader Al-Bsoul. It was my first time to scrub in as an assistant in thyroid surgery and it was really amazing to participate in such delicate surgery.

I also took part in sessions with other Jordanian students who became friends and we have many trips together. It was my first time to form connections with non-Palestinian individuals and it feels good to have discussions with them about common problems Arab are facing nowadays, about medical schools and our plans for the future.

On the other hand, I was working really hard to get a new visa to join the elective programme in Oxford. Everything was going very well until I unexpectedly was refused. At that moment, everything turned upside down. I was so upset, those days were hell-like. After 3 days, Rafah Crossing opened again and I travelled back to Gaza.

Despite many challenges and problems and the fact that I failed to reach Oxford, I am really proud.

I am one of few medical students who took the risks and travel to pursue their dreams despite the political situation around us. Not being able to go back to Gaza and attend my final exam and graduation ceremony were my greatest fears.

This journey added a lot to my personality and my thoughts. I took responsibility of my whole life from A-Z. I can say now that I am more confident and daring. From a scientific and practical view, I realized that medical graduates from Gaza’s universities are rival to those from other countries and they can compete very well.

I always remember the quote that says, “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness”; so do not expect your way to be easy, you have to fight for your dreams.

Read more about the international training placement programme here

Oxford Group 2017

Chairman’s report winter 2017

Read the Chairman’s, Khaled Dawas, update on our projects:

“We, at FQMS, are gearing up to the busy time in our calendar. The annual FQMS fundraising dinner is on Friday the 2nd March 2018 in central London. The dinner planning committee is led by Dr Ahmed Massoud this year and he already has his hands full.

Electives

This year many of the elective students from Palestine were unable to travel for various reasons. The UK visa requirements have become more stringent and none of the 6 students I expected in our surgery department at University College London Hospital made it. The situation for the Gaza students has been as difficult as ever, as the closure of the Gaza strip continues. The few students who managed to get out then had delays of many weeks trying to get home. This was also the case for the IUG Medical School Vice Dean, Dr Anwar Al Sheikh Khalil, after attending a conference FQMS supported him with.

Oxford doctors trip to Gaza

Oxford medics in Gaza 2017
Oxford medics in Gaza 2017

On a positive note our partners, the Oxford University Surgeons and Physicians were in Gaza in October on their annual teaching week. Not only do they deliver excellent teaching, they also give the students and faculty a much-needed show of moral support. A message that they are not forgotten.

Postgraduate trainees

Of our most recent postgraduate trainees, Dr Najib Salameh has embedded smoothly into the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University College London and Dr Maha Akkawi is enjoying her training at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

Madrinha Trust partnership

The partnership we have with the Madrinha Trust continues to blossom. We are very grateful to them for providing 4 new full scholarships to medical students from Al Azhar Medical School in Gaza. These very generous scholarships cover existing debt as well as future tuition fees. A further student has been sponsored fully by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. I have succeeded in convincing a key Madrinha trustee to join Dr Lina Nashef and I on our upcoming visit to the West Bank. Sui Chin McKeand will meet the deans at Al Quds and An Najah Medical Schools in Jerusalem and Nablus respectively, plus doctors financed by the Trust in the past.

Additional updates

The AGM this year was held in October at Dr Jeanne Frossard’s beautiful home in Maida Vale. On a final note, we are so delighted for our trustee Dr Rawya Charif who got married recently. Alf mabrook (a thousand congratulations) Rawya!

I look forward to seeing you in March.”

Abdel Mohsin Al Qattan

Mr Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan

Abdel Mohsin Al Qattan

Trustees of FQMS deeply mourn the loss of our major benefactor, Mr Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan. Mr Al-Qattan touched many;  over decades he established and championed many institutions and charities.

He was a unique man of quiet dignity, resolve, dedication, discipline, high values and inspiring generosity, who expected the highest standards of himself and others. Yet he also showed empathy, sympathy and humanity. He was highly able and knowledgeable with a deep understanding of the history of the Arab world and of current affairs. He loved Arabic poetry, especially Al Mutannabi.

His courage was unfailing and he spoke the truth even when against the tide. This courage shone till the end, a solace to his family and friends. Allah Yirhamo. He will be sorely missed. May his legacy to Palestine live on.

Najib and Maha

Postgraduate trainees winter 2017

In 2017, we supported 5 postgraduate trainees (the latter 4 are part of the Juzoor/Arab Fund Partnership):

There are two more postgraduate trainees arriving next year:

  • Islam (Interventional Radiology)
  • Mohammad (Respiratory Medicine)

Abeer has passed the final part of the Arab Board exam and will be taking the FRCPath part 2 in 2018. She plans to return to Gaza after. There she hopes to use her training to improve services available in Gaza and teach a new generation of doctors.

Here, in their own words, are updates from our postgraduate trainees Naji, Maha and Najib on their time in the UK so far.


Najib

Najib

I came to UCLH six months ago. When I met my supervisor he designed a schedule, to integrate me in the new system.

I work in the labour ward on Mondays, where the protocols and guidelines of the Royal College are strictly followed. What impressed me most is the teamwork in the labour ward. You can sense a rhythm among consultants, registrars and midwives. For the rest of the week, I either cover clinics in urogynaecology and endometriosis or assist in theatres.

UCLH is one of the most prestigious endometriosis centres in the UK. They deal with complicated cases, especially rectovaginal disease. This is expanding my experience in both pelvic anatomy and laparoscopy. The consultants are very keen to teach me and I’m learning something new every day. UCLH is a lovely place to learn.


Naji

“I’ve been in London a year and a half. When I’ve arrived in London, I wasn’t sure about the level of training I was going to have, but it has more than lived up to my expectations. In the beginning, I struggled adapting to this new system.

My surgical skills have improved greatly. Following up on patients and our weekly MDT, have widened my experience in planning and executing surgery well. My main goal was to improve my laparoscopic surgery skills. After a year, I can perform this type of surgery safely, but I need more experience to be able to do it independently. My time is limited, especially as this is a big and complicated subspecialty, but the team has been friendly and helped my confidence and skill grow.

I hope I’ll be able to achieve what I wanted to when I made the decision to quit my job in Palestine and train in England.”


Maha

Maha

Starting a new life in a different country, a different continent and indeed a different culture is not an easy step, especially when you have a family with you. To settle into a new place, new home and new rules and regulations is a big source of anxiety, but over time you start to relax, which is when I was ready to begin my training.

Becoming a part of the haematology-haematopathology team was peaceful. I was welcomed by the team and introduced to working straightaway. But when you open the door to so much knowledge there can be some storms to face, but luckily I was able to overcome them. Day by day I started to become more familiar with the routine and work. I started to get involved in educational activities. What really helped is that North Bristol NHS Trust is one of the core haematopathology centres in the south of England. I am lucky to be part of their team.

Now after a year, I’m beginning to feel that I’m advancing my skills and helping me lay the foundation for my return to Palestine. My hope is that I will be able to help create a haemato-oncology service in Palestine with up-to-date applications and diagnostic methods.

They say “dream big, work hard, stay focused and surround yourself with good people” and I think that is my secret. Well, it’s not secret anymore!

Read about the postgraduate training programme here

Electives 2017

Electives 2017

In 2017, we have so far helped to fund 128 student electives in North America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Electives are available to students from Gaza, but increasing border restrictions have meant that only 4 students have made it out so far.

Here are some snippets from the reports we received:

Wadi – Gavle Hospital, Sweden

“It was exciting and wonderful; I learnt about medicine around the world and got to learn about neurological examinations and examined many patients. I was happy that I could see many stroke patients with varying presentation, who had different diagnosis. Some patients left hospital in very good condition, which was fascinating. I wish we could gain the same confidence and skill in Palestine as other hospitals. Students who graduate abroad can do more procedures than us. Elective course is a wonderful experience, I really would encourage students to go, explore and learn more.”

Dima – CHRU Nancy, France

“My elective was very interesting and informative. I was in the internal medicine ward and I saw many cases I had never seen in Palestine. Everyone was very kind and helpful. Discovering France was a dream come true.”

Anas – Islamic Hospital, Jordan

“In my 4th year, I liked internal medicine, but we didn’t have any training in Pulmonology. So I decided to go for a short elective in Pulmonology after I finished my 4th year to bridge the gap I felt I had. We got to go on ward rounds, attend lectures, discuss cases, as well as being taught how to read CXR and lung function tests. We were also shown a sleep study for diagnosing OSA. It was a great experience.”

Bashar – University of Minnesota Medical Centre, USA, University of Jordan Hospital and King Hussein Cancer Centre, Jordan

“It was a great experience, but I suffered a lot to leave Gaza, as I had to wait in Amman for over two months for Rafah to open so I could return home. Nonetheless, I learned many new skills, interacted with colleagues from around the world and got first-hand experience of the medical systems in the USA and Jordan. I am thankful to FQMS for their support.”

Read more about the international training placement programme here

Students

Bursaries update 2017

In 2017, we raised £24,000 for the bursaries.

This was divided equally amongst the 4 medical schools (Al Quds, An Najah, IUG and Al Azhar). Bursaries are for talented students with higher than average scores and broad ability, who are also in extreme financial need.

In total, 36 students benefitted, receiving $564 – $1,380 dependent on need, with the funds helping to pay fees and living costs.

Manal

“I would like to thank FQMS for choosing me for this scholarship and helping us achieve our dreams. I hope others will have the chance to get this scholarship and be helped to continue their studies.”

Noor

“I would like to give my special thanks and gratitude to FQMS who helped me with my tuition money.”

Read more about student bursaries here

Inji

Update from Inji 2017

Inji - postgraduate trainee

Read an update from Inji Al Shaer, who was sponsored to a fellowship in renal medicine in Kent and Canterbury Hospital:

“When I was presented with the idea of completing my fellowship in renal medicine in the UK, I was overjoyed. FQMS provided me with a golden opportunity to advance my career and for that I will be forever grateful and indebted.

There are quite a few differences in medical training and practice between the UK and my homeland Palestine. This might be partially attributed to the obvious difference between developed and developing countries. Namely, there is a lack of formal training in sub-specialities in Palestine despite the massive need and demand. Statistically, the number of patients with kidney problems, failures and transplants is on the rise. However, patients usually have no other option but to be put on a long waiting list for referral to Israeli or Jordanian hospitals. If they are really lucky, they can afford to travel abroad for their necessary medical treatment, which is rarely the case.

Palestine is not short of bright minds, but it lacks resources and training facilities. This has left it in desperate need of sub-specialist physicians.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to FQMS. Their support has changed the course of my life. Had I stayed in Palestine, I would have been confined to the patriarchal society’s norms and would not have been able to advance my career in the same way due to the complex situation, specifically the siege on the Gaza Strip. The fellowship has provided me with a well-rounded experience. This included both theoretical and practical experience, which is much needed in the Palestine. There is a wealth of experience in taking care of kidney patients and performing procedures, like dialysis, line insertion, and biopsies, as well as leadership and management skills. Combined together lead to improvements in treatment and the maintenance of good medical standards.

Developing my career as a nephrologist in the UK has been a great journey. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of FQMS.”

Read about the postgraduate training programme here

Abdelrahman

Abdelrahman at the OGHB International Conference

Abdulrahman

“Thanks to the generosity of FQMS, I was able to present my poster, ‘Migration and Health in Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities’ at Oxford Global Health and Bioethics International Conference (Ethox).

The conference took place from July 17th – July 18th, 2017 at Keble College, University of Oxford. It shed light on different global health issues such as vaccination, refugee healthcare, global health and bioethics. This opportunity was particularly important to me, as it opened many new horizons for my future research network.”

My poster focused on the many deficiencies in the provision of primary healthcare for refugees, who are internally displaced or those who migrated to other Middle East Countries. The shortage in healthcare delivery includes inadequate antenatal care for pregnant women. Around 52% of advanced cancer patients among refugees in Lebanon and Jordan have not received treatment. The data also showed that there is a deficiency in following up on the psychological effects of war on refugees.

The paper made a number of recommendations. Most important of which is paying more attention to refugees’ antenatal care and increasing the support to psychological and healthcare programmes provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

For me, this was one of the greatest experiences I ever had. I had amazing time exploring Oxford University, meeting its Professors. Also I discovered some parts of the beautiful London for first time in my life.

This opportunity not only enabled me to present my poster at an international conference. But also it allowed me to expand his research network and as a result I received an offer to publish my paper in the highly-ranked journal, “Global Bioethics”.”

Read more about the professional development programme here

Dr Burns-Cox with junior doctors and students

Dr Chris Burns-Cox visit to Gaza – May 2017

Read about Dr Chris Burns-Cox’s visit to Gaza in 2017 to examine the students at IUG:

Dr. Burns-Cox Visit to Gaza – May 2017
Dr. Burns-Cox Visit to Gaza – May 2017

“I arrived at Erez crossing to Gaza and was met by Bassem, PR Officer for the Islamic University in Gaza.

On the Saturday, we went to the European Hospital where the clinical exams were to take place in the Out-Patients department. The ‘written’ part of the Clinical Medicine exam had taken place already using MCQs with electronic scoring.

I had met the senior doctors examining previously. There were 31 female and 37 male students to be examined. There were two sets of 5 ten minute OSCE stations carried out in English.

My visit was at the invitation of Dr. Anwar Alshaikhkhalil, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, IUG. Anwar has been able to travel outside Gaza and is very up-to-date on exam techniques and the details and practicalities of the Gaza exams are a tribute to his knowledge, hard work and leadership.

I very much enjoyed my visit and was honoured to have been invited. Thank you to FQMS for your support.”

Read more about the professional development programme here