MBA students go to the land where health care dollars are plentiful

A group of 40 FIU Health care MBA students and alumni landed at Doha Airport Qatar as part of a two-week trip to explore health care facilities in the region in August.

Doha (Qatar), Dubai and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) have the kind of generous health care funding other places – including the United States – can only envy. Seeing how this works first-hand was the opportunity of a lifetime for 40 FIU Health Care MBA students and alumni.

Spending almost two weeks in August, the group – led by Professor Miriam Weismann, academic director of the College of Business’ Health Care MBA program – visited hospitals, clinics, government health agencies and health care finance entities on the trip; they visited the city of Doha in Qatar and the nearby cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, both in the United Arab Emirates.

Participants, who had to write a Health Policy Analysis Report, earned an advanced certificate in Global Health Care Administration from HCMBA and eight continuing education credits.

The trip gave the students a chance to experience an approach to health care that, because of the population and government policies of the monarchies, is in some ways, a controlled experiment.

“Qatar has one-eighth the population of Florida, unprecedented wealth and no poor people,” Weismann said.

In both the UAE and Qatar, she explained, free health care is granted only to citizens, who make up just about 20 percent of the population.

“If you are a citizen, they will pay for everything,” she said, noting that foreign workers must have jobs and employer-sponsored insurance — or leave. This structure ensures a system of universal health care for citizens.

The royal families in the UAE and in Qatar have both underwritten awe-inspiring state-of-the-art health care building projects (including a branch of the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi). Still, ensuring quality care and encouraging efficiencies remains a challenge, even with the push to hire more U.S.–trained doctors.

One goal behind all the construction is to become a medical tourism destination. What most impressed HCMBA student Ramy Mitwalli about Abu Dhabi is how leaders are assembling world-class medical teams to meet the challenge of implementing the new health care infrastructure.

“They are attracting people from all over the world, and managing to create a culture (with English as the common language) that fosters a sense of community,” said Mitwalli, who expects to graduate from the HCMBA program in December and plans on becoming a physician.

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