New jobs, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are attracting Emiratis to nursing careers at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, say Healthcare Leaders
UAE nationals increasingly see nursing as a viable and rewarding career, as new nursing career paths are being made available in the country for the first time.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has reported an increase in the number of Emiratis applying to become nurses at both junior and senior levels in 2017, after the hospital introduced a range of new nursing roles, including some that had not been seen before in the United Arab Emirates.
The hospital has introduced the first nurse practitioner and physician assistant roles in the UAE, establishing a clear path for career progression within nursing. These advanced practice roles allow nurses to achieve more responsible positions within hospitals than they were previously able to, becoming more involved in complex patient care, clinical management and hospital administration.
Hospital leaders are optimistic that, by enhancing the career path available to nurses in the country, hospitals will be able to attract more UAE nationals into key roles, and support the long-term sustainability of the nation’s healthcare sector by ensuring a strong supply of caregiving professionals.
“We’re beginning to get a higher number of applications from Emiratis around the country because they see the opportunities here at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi,” said Ann Williamson, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s chief clinical and nursing officer. “In order to retain UAE national nurses, it’s important that we show the difference in our approach in terms of the work environment and career progression. We’ve learned that a number of Emirati nurse applicants have had family members hospitalized here and when they see the role of nurses at the bedside and beyond, including strong inter-professional collaboration, they are interested in working here.
“It really helps to demonstrate to Emiratis who are interested in a healthcare career that there are growth and opportunities at the bedside and beyond in nursing, should you choose it as a career,” she added. “I think that’s really important for establishing and generating more interest in nursing as a career in the UAE.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi hopes that the collaborative, inter-professional work environment and introduction of new roles will help support its ongoing efforts to employ and retain Emirati talent.
In March 2017, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi employed its first Emirati nurse as a clinical director, Abeer AlBlooshi.
“There are not enough UAE national nurses,” AlBlooshi said. “But I believe this is something that will change in the next 10 or 20 years.”
She says that a poor perception of nursing among UAE nationals coupled with long shifts has traditionally put many off from choosing nursing as a career, something these new clinical roles and career progression opportunities are beginning to change.
“When I started my career as a staff nurse back in 2003, I wondered if I had made the right choice,” AlBlooshi said. I was the first UAE national hired by my then-employer, and worked the longest shifts amongst my Emirati friends. As a fresh graduate, the challenge and responsibility of caring for a life can be very overwhelming yet also rewarding. But since then, I’ve had a goal to show the world that we UAE nationals are capable of doing any job. The support and encouragement I received from everyone around me during this journey has been humbling.”
This year, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has created a series of programs aimed at encouraging young UAE nationals into clinical professions at the hospital. These include a partnership with Fatima College of Health Sciences which sponsors 20 Emiratis studying nursing and allied health courses.
The hospital also recently launched its Junior Caregiver Program, one of the first high school clinical volunteer drives inAbu Dhabi. Thirty-five Emirati high school students and five expatriates spent two weeks learning about the different clinical and non-clinical roles at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
AlBlooshi is optimistic that the students coming through are of the highest caliber.
“It is important to increase the number of nurses in the field, but even more important is the quality of the nurses and the skills they bring,” she said. “It is the responsibility of those of us who have been in the field for a long time and seen it evolve to help develop these nurses and be part of their growth.”