12/12/2008

First Oman medical class graduates Monday 

WVU academic partnership helped create the medical school

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The first class of physicians to graduate from Oman Medical College will be honored at commencement ceremonies Dec. 15 in Muscat. The college, formed in academic partnership with West Virginia University, is the Sultanate’s first private medical school.

The 28 graduates – 27 of whom are women – finished their medical curriculum earlier this year and are in residency training at hospitals throughout the country.

The ceremony will be a blend of cultures, with graduates in gold-and-blue academic regalia that draws heavily on WVU’s traditions, mixing with family members and Omani dignitaries. The college displays WVU’s “Flying WV” logo on its diplomas, website and facilities.

Graduates of OMC's pharmacy program celebrate after receiving diplomas at the school's 2007 commencement exercises in Muscat, Oman.

West Virginia University Interim Provost E. Jane Martin, Ph.D., will represent WVU at the ceremony. She is the latest of many WVU faculty and administrators to travel to Oman to help establish and operate the school, according to Anne Cather, M.D., a WVU family medicine faculty member who coordinates operations between the two schools.

“More than 16 WVU faculty members have taught at OMC,” says Dr. Cather, who is also participating in the Dec. 15 ceremony. “Since the school admitted its first students in 2001, there has been a continuing exchange of people in both directions, with WVU faculty filling important administrative and faculty posts in Oman, and OMC faculty and students participating in classes and other academic activities in Morgantown.”

Classes are taught in English, and the school follows the U.S. model for medical and pharmacy education.

Diana Beattie, Ph.D., former chair of the Department of Biochemistry in the WVU School of Medicine, is the dean of the Pharmacy and Premedical Campus at OMC. The school has 794 students on its two campuses.

Medical students spend three years on the undergraduate campus in Muscat and four years on a separate medical campus – with an affiliated hospital – in Sohar.

The OMC’s pharmacy program on the Muscat campus is graduating its second class this year. WVU’s dean of pharmacy, Patricia Chase, Ph.D., will return to Oman for a second year to assist in presenting diplomas to the class.

The new medical school has an international focus, with students coming from 25 countries, primarily in the Middle East. The faculty includes physicians, pharmacists and other academics from the United States, Canada, Scotland, Iran, India, Egypt, Germany and several other countries, Cather said.

Oman, situated at the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, has been a major crossroads for trade among African, Asian and Middle Eastern nations for centuries. Its 3.3 million people include more than a half-million immigrants from other nations.

Three WVU faculty members have taught at OMC this year: Penny Klinkachorn, Ph.D., David Smith, Ph.D., and John Connors, Ph.D., all of the School of Medicine. Four others made short trips to Oman to participate in oral and written exams for the graduating class or for curriculum evaluations.

In addition to WVU’s participation, the Oman Medical College has enjoyed strong support from a group of Omani physicians and citizens and from the government. The government sponsors a large number of Omani students and has provided free land and designated the Sohar Regional Hospital as the school’s teaching hospital.

The graduation of the first class of medical students is a crucial milestone in the relationship between the two schools, Cather said. “We intend to remain closely allied with Oman Medical College. As the school and its faculty continue to mature, our role will become more advisory and evaluative.”

For information on Oman Medical College see http://www.omc.edu.om/.

-WVU-


08-233
For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
johnsa@wvuh.com
bc/ab: 12-11-08

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