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Working together: Faculty from Respiratory Therapy and the College of Rehabilitation Sciences meet with Saudi Arabian colleagues.

U of M expertise making positive impact in Middle East

Respiratory Therapy program development in Saudi Arabia

February 23, 2015 — 

When respiratory therapy department head Andrew West was approached by the Millennium Academy, a Saudi Arabian educational institution, seeking assistance in developing a new respiratory therapy degree program, he wasn’t all that surprised.

“The University of Manitoba’s respiratory therapy (RT) education program has a longstanding national reputation for excellence,” says West, also an assistant professor in the respiratory therapy department, College of Rehabilitation Sciences at the U of M. “The department is gaining increasing international recognition for the quality of its curriculum and for the work of its faculty.”

West himself spent four years working in the Middle East as a clinical respiratory therapist and more recently was invited to speak at the second annual International Respiratory Care Conference held in Al Ain, the United Arab Emirates.

In May 2014, executives from the Millennium Academy visited the Bannatyne campus to meet with faculty and staff from the respiratory therapy department, the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, the Faculty of Health Sciences and the International Office. In addition to a firsthand look at the delivery of the RT program, the Saudi executives also observed students working and learning in the university’s state-of-the-art Clinical Learning & Simulation Facility.

In consultation with the Millennium Academy, West and Dr. Emily Etcheverry, dean, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, developed a plan to guide the development of a new degree in respiratory therapy in Saudi Arabia. As part of the consultation process, West and Etcheverry travelled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to conduct an on-site needs assessment. This included a review of potential learning facilities, clinical education sites, and meetings with Millennium Academy officials and local practicing respiratory therapists.

“The consultation process we engaged in has provided the Millennium Academy with a set of clear recommendations on how it might proceed with developing its new RT program ,” says Etcheverry.

Faculty members in the department are looking forward to exploring ways in which they might continue to collaborate in the future with the Millennium Academy.

“The visit itself was intense, but the chance to connect with academic and professional colleagues in Jeddah was invigorating,” says West. “From a pedagogical perspective, it was fascinating to consider innovative ways a program like ours could be delivered within the Saudi context.”

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