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Qatar Inaugural Medical Students Conference on Psychiatry and Mental Health

On Saturday 15 February 2020, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Working Group on Medical Students, in collaboration with the Qatar Medical Students’ Association (QMSA), Sidra Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar (WCM-Q) and Qatar University (QU) held Qatar’s Inaugural Medical Students’ Conference on Psychiatry and Mental Health. The conference was attended by more than 100 participants including medical students, psychiatrists, educators, researchers, and psychologists.

Primarily aimed at medical students, the conference agenda sought not only to promote psychiatry as a potential career choice to medical students, but also to highlight the importance of medical student mental health.

The conference hosted a plethora of guest speakers including:

  • Prof. Afzal Javed, WPA President-Elect.

  • Prof. Muhammad Waqar Azeem, Sidra Medicine’s Chair of Psychiatry Department and WPA Working Group on Medical Students initiative.

  • Prof. Javaid Sheikh, Dean of WCM-Q.

  • Dr. Rashid Zaman, Consultant Psychiatrist and Honorary Fellow at University of Cambridge.

  • Dr. Ahmed Hankir, Academic Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (UK).

  • Dr. Zainab Imam, Adult Psychiatrist -Women’s Mental Health (WMH) at Sidra Medicine, Medical Students Clerkship Director (WMH)

  • Dr. Durre Shahwar, Child & Adolescents Psychiatry (CAMHS) attending at Sidra Medicine, Medical Students Clerkship Director (CAMHS).

  • Dr. Aicha Hind Rifai, Psychiatry Clerkship Director, WCM-Q

Encouraging medical students to pursue psychiatry after their medical training, keynote speaker, Prof. Afzal Javed used his presentation titled “Why Psychiatry?” to highlight the global shortage of - and growing need for - psychiatrists around the world.

Also addressed was the propensity for medical students’ to be "significantly more likely" to suffer from mental illness as compared to the general population. It was noted that it is not only the rate of those suffering that continues to rise globally, but also the rate of burnout amongst residents and physicians.

In addition to the guest presenters, medical students from WCM-Q and QU were also given a platform to share their views. Among them was President of the Qatar Medical Students’ Association, A