The University of Calgary in Qatar (UCQ) recently hosted an online event focused on the importance of nursing in the current healthcare climate.
With the continued challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, now more than ever, nursing holds an integral role in healthcare, in Qatar and globally. 
UCQ highlighted it was proud to celebrate its third year as a ‘Best Practice Spotlight Organisation’ (BPSO) academic pre-designate with the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO). 
To mark the milestone, UCQ’s BPSO student champions organised a panel discussion with nurse leaders, UCQ nursing alumni, and nursing students in partnership with RNAO and with the support of the Hamad Medical Corporation.
The online panel consisted of Dr Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of RNAO; Dr JoAnne MacDonald, associate dean (Academic) of UCQ; UCQ alumna Noof al-Kuwari, clinical nurse in paediatric pain management with Sidra Medicine; UCQ alumna Zeinab Mohamed Idris, clinical nurse specialist (palliative-care) with HMC; and several others. 
With 70 people in attendance from all over the world, the speakers discussed evidence-based practice and how UCQ’s BPSO initiative is advancing nursing education and can help Qatar achieve key national health goals in the country.
The partnership between UCQ and RNAO has enhanced nursing education and practice in Qatar in many ways. “Partners are committed. You have shown beyond reasonable doubt your commitment, not only with the implementation of the best practice guidelines, but even beyond that,” said Dr Doris Grinspun while addressing the UCQ leadership and participants.
Dr Grinspun also lauded the BPSO student champions for their leadership in creating a ‘maskathon’ initiative to promote wearing masks in accordance with the Ministry of Public Health’s Covid-19 guidelines. The maskathon is one of many outcomes of integrating BPSO guidelines into the UCQ curriculum and has become an inspiring example of student nurse leadership internationally.
The panel discussion provided both nursing students and current nurses in-depth insight into how UCQ is advancing a culture of evidence-based practice as the only nursing university in Qatar.
“The single most important accomplishment UCQ can hope to achieve by integrating BPGs into the curriculum and becoming a BPSO is helping scale up the BPSO initiative into health services across the country,” said Dr JoAnne MacDonald. “We are calling on a commitment from the most senior health leaders in Qatar to join UCQ in its efforts and take a serious look at the sustained success – globally – of RNAO’s approach to implementing nursing best practice guidelines.”
UCQ’s curriculum is uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of Qatar. The gold standard Canadian curriculum and programme foster students to become theoretical, conceptual, critical, and clinical thinkers.
“As a Qatari nurse, I had faced so many challenges,” says Noof al-Kuwari. 
In addressing the attendees, Noof asserted: “We need you all, we cannot work by ourselves. There’s a saying in Arabic that you cannot clap with one hand, so you need to clap with two hands. Therefore, in order to succeed, we need to be working together to enhance the healthcare standards here in Qatar.”
The World Health Organisation says there is a global shortage of nurses and Qatar is no exception. Zeinab Mohamed Idris stated: “I believe that nursing education is extremely important for the success and development of our healthcare system here in Qatar and, like my fellow alumna Noof, I am proud to be among Qatar’s nurse leaders.”
According to WHO, the world needs 18mn more health workers to achieve and sustain universal health coverage by 2030. Approximately half of that shortfall – 9mn health workers – are nurses and midwives.
With the ongoing struggles amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, UCQ continues to empower its student nurses and its BPSO student champions to incorporate the use of RNAO’s best practice guidelines in their theory, lab and clinical courses as they become the future nurse leaders of Qatar.
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