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Online process keeps student admissions on track at WCM-Q during Covid-19 outbreak

Online tools have allowed WCM-Q's admissions team to continue their work despite the restrictions on physical interactions.
Online tools have allowed WCM-Q's admissions team to continue their work despite the restrictions on physical interactions.

Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) has moved to an online admissions process in order to continue to recruit talented future doctors from across Qatar and all over the world during the global coronavirus lockdown. 

With applicants to the elite medical college unable to travel to Qatar, the face-to-face on-campus interviews that normally form an integral part of the admissions process could no longer take place. Senior faculty, admissions professionals and ITS specialists at WCM-Q – a Qatar Foundation partner university – quickly moved to set up a process whereby applicants selected for interview could be interviewed remotely using videoconferencing software.

To comply with public health guidelines, WCM-Q decided that candidates who live in Qatar could take their interviews via videoconference in the same way as candidates who live abroad.

Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, WCM-Q professor of healthcare policy and research, professor of medicine and vice dean for student affairs-admissions, population health, and lifestyle medicine, oversaw the transition to online interviews. He said: “Given the current global coronavirus crisis, recruiting medical students has never been so important and we were therefore determined that there must be no disruption whatsoever to our admissions procedure. We also had to ensure that the process remained comparable to the normal one, an important part of which is an interview.”

He added: “I am extremely proud of my colleagues for managing this transition with the minimum of upheaval. Thanks to their dedication, the admissions procedure has continued without a hitch and we fully expect to recruit a new class of extremely talented young men and women from all over the world to begin classes when the crisis has abated, whilst observing physical distancing recommendations and guaranteeing fairness for every applicant.”

WCM-Q recruits students from all over Qatar and across the globe to its Six-Year Medical Program, Four-Year Medical Curriculum and Foundation Program. To apply, students must submit an online application and required documents by the stipulated deadlines, as indicated on WCM-Q’s Admissions website. Competitive applicants are invited for an interview, with the final decision on admission made by a committee of senior WCM-Q faculty, WCM-Q students, and a representative of the Ministry of Public Health, who now convene via videoconference. The participants report that virtual, online process of conducting Committee on Admissions meetings has been working very well.

Farhan Aziz, director of admissions at WCM-Q, said: “We have been pleasantly surprised by how smoothly we were able to make the transition to online interviews. Candidates selected for interviews have been understanding about the change to online interviews and some of them have told us that they were relieved not to have the stress of travel during the Covid-19 outbreak. Perhaps the most important aspect is that connectivity or technical issues with the online interviews have not posed difficulties; the interviews have gone well indeed and the quality of modern videoconferencing technology means we are able to get a very good idea of each applicant’s attributes from the interviews.”

Students who complete the WCM-Q Medical Program receive the same MD degree as their counterparts at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. Graduates of WCM-Q go on to secure places in residency training programs at elite academic health centers in Qatar and the US. Many of them opt to work in Qatar to serve the health needs of the community here after they have completed their residency programs.

Dr. Marco Ameduri, WCM-Q, senior associate dean for premedical education and Education City collaborative curricular affairs, commented: “We are all very appreciative of the enthusiasm with which our applicants have embraced the online interviews. The technology has worked very well, allowing the applicants to present themselves to their best and to have engaging interviews with the members of the Committee on Admissions.”

From left: WCM-Q's Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, Dr. Marco Ameduri and Farhan Aziz.