UI announces partnership with Middle Eastern university

The University of Iowa announced an official partnership with Gulf Medical University in the United Arab Emirates.


Megan Conroy

The College of Pharmacy can be seen on March 5, 2019. The College of Pharmacy has come out with a new combined Health Informatics and Pharm D degree program.

Alexandra Skores, News Reporter

Led by the College of Pharmacy, the University of Iowa will partner with Gulf Medical University, located in the United Arab Emirates.

Nearly two years ago, Susan Vos, assistant dean for professional education in the pharmacy school, had worked closely with Gulf Medical on a project. Since then, the relationship has grown strongly with the UAE university.

“We had been talking and thought this could be a great partnership,” Vos said. “They offer the doctor of pharmacy degree at their university, so we were talking about how we could get our students exposed to each other through an exchange agreement.”

From her previous work on international exchanges, she said, she was excited to make this particular partnership because the UI didn’t have relationships with schools in the Middle East.

“They have a different educational system than we do,” Vos said. “For pharmacists training, they have a varied educational experience with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctor of pharmacy degree. The region is also working on having a collective vision for pharmacy education so that people are offering similar programs.”

Jeanine Abrons, the director of Student Pharmacists International Activities, said the university-wide memorandum of understanding means the UI hopes to facilitate a formal relationship.

“These programs help create opportunities for other colleges or other faculty to seek opportunity for a relationship and go ahead and do so,” Abrons said.

The partnership hopes to bring students from Gulf Medical to the UI and vice versa, Vos said.

“It’s been about a year in planning,” she said. “Now, we’ll be working on crafting the vision for making this exchange happen between our two schools.”

In order to implement the new model and partnership, Vos said, students would participate in abroad study.

“This would be added to the list of partnerships of the UI,” Vos said. “The students would be selected through a competitive selection process here at the college and place them at an international site if they have interest in that. What we are trying to envision is adding this location to our mix of international options for the doctor of pharmacy students.”

The graduate Pharmacy College has sent students to Romania, Japan, Belize, and Dominica this academic year.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, Dean of Gulf Medical Pharmacy College Sherief Khalifa said the experiential education of the UI was very well-developed. This was the reason behind the partnership, he said.

“The partnership is very beneficial, because it opens doors for student exchange between [Gulf Medical] and University of Iowa during APPE rotations,” Khalifa said in his email. “This is very exciting because students from both countries will have a unique opportunity to experience a different health-care environment and a different culture. This is expected to produce graduates from both institutions who are ready to practice pharmacy across cultures.”

The UI is very excited to formulate this relationship and see what is to come, Vos said.

“Having opportunities to study abroad for our students, regardless of what college they are in, is very important,” Vos said. “It gives them a different perspective. They can learn really well in Iowa, but to go to a different country and see practice in another part of the world gives them a different way of thinking through problems. We are very fortunate to have these international relations for our students.”