Wright State partners with Saudi university to create medical school modeled on Boonshoft School of Medicine

(L-R) Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine Dean Marjorie A. Bowman, M.D., M.P.A.; Sulaiman Alyahya, professor and vice president for planning, development, and quality, Qassim University; Saleh Aldamegh, dean of Unaizah College of Medicine, Qassim University; Wright State Provost S. Narayanan; Dean X. Parmelee, M.D., professor and associate dean for academic affairs, Boonshoft School of Medicine, pose for a picture after signing the agreement in June 2013.

Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine is expanding its global reach under a recent agreement that enables a new medical school in Saudi Arabia to get started in an innovative way, bringing the best of Wright State’s medical education expertise to a new set of students.

Under this unique agreement, Unaizah College of Medicine of Qassim University, Saudi Arabia, will deliver a concurrent educational experience for its students, parallel with the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s medical education program.

Marjorie Bowman, M.D., M.P.A., dean of the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Dean Parmelee, M.D., associate dean for academic affairs, and Larry Prochaska, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and vice-chair of education in the biochemistry & molecular biology department, traveled to Saudi Arabia in early December to meet with representatives of Unaizah College of Medicine to finalize the three-year $5.5 million renewable agreement and plan for its implementation.

Unaizah College of Medicine will become the first medical school in Saudi Arabia to offer an American-style medical education, granting the M.D. degree. Until now, Saudi medical schools have granted a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, or MBBS degree.

The founding dean of the Unaizah College of Medicine, Dr. Saleh al-Damegh, visited many medical schools in the United States seeking a partner to help establish the new school, one that would have an active-learning program and focus on generalist-care and population medicine. The Boonshoft School of Medicine’s national reputation as a leader in Team-Based Learning attracted him to Wright State and its medical education program. He approached a representative of the Boonshoft School of Medicine in 2012 about a possible partnership.

“Our outstanding educators and research faculty have attracted international attention,” Dean Bowman said. “We are proud that we can offer a new school in a different culture our proven program for educating the next generation of physicians.”

Wright State Provost Sundaram Narayanan, Bowman and representatives of Unaizah College of Medicine and Qassim University signed the initial agreement this past summer.

“This agreement helps strengthen Wright State’s international prominence and enables the university to increase its global impact,” Dr. Narayanan said.

The program will begin in September 2014, when 100 students who have successfully completed a pre-health professions program at Qassim University will enter Unaizah College of Medicine to complete a one-year program of course work that mirrors the first-year medical education program at the Boonshoft School of Medicine. Upon successful completion of the year, 60 students will be selected to continue with the remaining years of the program, which is modeled on the program at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.

Other universities have developed international agreements, such as Duke University with the National University of Singapore, Johns Hopkins with Perdana University in Malaysia, Imperial College of London with Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with Nazarbayev University School of Medicine in Kazakhstan.

Unaizah College of Medicine was established in 2011 as part of a new university founded by Qassim University. Both campuses are located in Qassim Province, northwest of Riyadh. At Unaizah and other medical schools in Saudi Arabia instruction is conducted in English.

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