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Tue 7 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Sharjah lures local talent

Sharjah Teaching Hospital (STH) has installed its first healthcare management trainees under what is considered one of the nation's first healthcare executive internships.

Sharjah Teaching Hospital (STH) has installed its first healthcare management trainees under what is considered one of the nation's first healthcare executive internships.

The two women, both graduates from the University of Sharjah's health services administration degree, represent a new trend in independence, as the emirate's healthcare sector looks to capitalise on homegrown talent.

"It's a rare opportunity to bridge health services and business," said Dubai-born intern Rabab Abbas. "I work closely with senior executives at STH, and I've learnt things I never would have in another role."

The scheme is geared at producing mid-level managers capable of taking on roles at STH, said chief operating officer Peter Faulkner.

Faulkner, who is employed by VHA Global, the Australian consultancy firm that manages the hospital, is keen to attract local candidates.

"Part of our remit is to support the development of local talent and ultimately train them to replace us," he said. "Our primary aim is to convince young graduates that this is a good career path."

The interns, who are paid about AED9,000 (US$2,450) monthly, will hone their skills on a project-based training scheme that rotates through the hospital's key departments. To date, that has included tasks in human resources, nursing and support services.

Mariam Almaqadma, who took up her spot on the course three weeks ago, sees the placement as a stepping-stone to a higher-level role. "I want to be able to manage that higher level of management, and maybe to decide what I want to major in," she said. "Not many students major in [healthcare administration] so opportunities are more rare."

Top-level government figures have been quick to realise the management scheme will give STH an edge in the war for talent. The traineeship is backed by Sheikh Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qassimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, who has allocated funding for an additional two interns, with more roles planned once STH opens its doors in 2009.

"As the hospital gets bigger we'll have more opportunities but we want to measure the take-up of new recruits against the workload," Faulkner said.

However, any future recruitment drives might need to go hand-in-hand with an awareness campaign, said 22-year-old Abbas, as the original job advertisement was met with some confusion.

"The word ‘internship' doesn't really translate to Arabic. It means you're being trained as a student almost," she said. "'My family asked; ‘Are you receiving a salary? What does it mean?'

"There was a lot of confusion even among the other university students."

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