Arabian Gazette’s chat with Dr. Arun Menon, Director of operations, VPS Al Ain region, where we discuss on a range of topics including VPS Healthcare’s Moonshot Initiative, a research platform to transform healthcare in the region, and on their latest initiative to include nurses into clinical research.
Can you tell us how VPS Healthcare’s Moonshot Initiative will help in UAE’s knowledge-based economy initiative?
The triangle of research, education and entrepreneurship is widely accepted to be the foundation of most global economies. Research creates new knowledge and is key to developing not only human capital and new jobs, but also economic growth and competitiveness. Studies have shown the economically transformative effects of research with overall value generated as much as three and eight times the initial investment over the entire life cycle. One recent example of the transformative effects of research is San Diego in California, which is now home to the third-largest concentration of biotechnology companies in the world. Most experts say that it has resulted from the combination of world-class research institutes and entrepreneurship. As Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director, announced at the launch of the Moonshot Initiative, our goal is to help create a research platform that will prepare the United Arab Emirates to be in the top of the knowledge economies. This platform will help develop enterprising scientists, innovative entrepreneurs and educators in the UAE and will help address the challenges facing society today and tomorrow. These fellowships will help build for that promise.
Why is it significant and important to include nurse in clinical research?
Research is at the heart of evidence-based healthcare. Nurses are at the forefront of delivering care and are able to identify gaps in clinical practice and develop ideas and strategies for improving the healthcare needs of patients. Clinical trials and studies often involve testing new drug treatments or devices and non-treatment studies. Nurse involvement in research is critical for the expansion of nursing science, ensuring patients’ safety and protection and improved care for patients. This practice has become an established and essential part of leading hospitals. Direct-care nurses are frequently absent from the research team. The American Nurses Association (ANA) advocates nurse involvement in research, stating, “all nurses working alone or in collaboration with others can participate in the advancement of the profession through the development, evaluation, dissemination, and application of knowledge in practice”.
What are the benefits for nursing students undergoing this clinical research fellowship?
Research and evaluation places a strong emphasis on improving health service delivery and patient care. Having opportunities to observe and engage in research is the key to encourage nurses’ participation in research. In addition to nursing science, the students will learn about management, organizational skills, teaching and mentoring, communication and technology during the course of the fellowship. Today’s patient-centered Integrated healthcare requires an even greater knowledge of these skills.
The selection criteria for the fellowships includes an evaluation of the student aptitude and interest for research and a potential research area they would like to focus on. The institution – based in the U.S. – will be decided based on the judges’ assessment of the fellowship candidates and the potential to develop the research projects. The program will be a total of 14-15 days (including travel). The selections will be announced around the second week of January.
How is nursing as a career shaping up? what are the opportunities for this field?
The field will continue to grow over the next few years, providing significant opportunities for nurses. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2030, the 31 OECD countries will have a shortage of over a million nurses and 70,000 midwives. The U.S. earlier this year produced estimates of its projected deficit by 2030, which includes a shortage of up to 104,900 physicians. While the shortage is anticipated to reduce from 9 million currently to 7.6 million by 2030, improvement in numbers will likely be uneven across regions. Shortages are anticipated to worsen in the African and Eastern Mediterranean regions. The nurse researcher role has also evolved over the years, which has allowed an increasing number of nurses to choose it as their career.
How successful are these initiatives in attracting Emiratis to nursing jobs? what more is required to attract talent?
Some local experts have suggested that boosting salaries and reduce working hours will make the field more attractive for Emirati nurses. However, we believe that informatics, genomics and clinical research offers additional career options for nurses, enabling them not only to use nursing skills, but also contribute to the development of new evidence and improve patient care. An academic career path allows nurses further education such as a master’s degree or PhD. There is a need to create even more awareness about the varied roles and responsibilities of nurses. As an example, internship programs for high school students at local hospitals have the potential for attracting more Emirati students to join nursing programs.
What are some of the trends in modern healthcare?
UAE Healthcare sector has expanded and evolved rapidly in the last 10 years. The next generation of medicine will be boosted by Artificial Intelligence and Big Data along with genomic information to provide personalized medicine and enhance the overall patient experience. The growing population and increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases will continue to drive the demand for healthcare services.
How is VPS healthcare contributing to improving health care in the region?
VPS Healthcare’s plans include opening the Burjeel Medical City (BMC) – a Tertiary Care Facility in the heart of Mohamed Bin Zayed City in Abu Dhabi. Once operational, BMC would become the largest private medical healthcare facility in the UAE focused on Oncology treatment. The facility will comprise of over 400 beds and will focus on ultra-specialized
domains in Oncology with long-term care, and wellness.