WCM-Q course leading the way in battle against lifestyle-related diseases
A Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) certificate course is creating a cohort of trained lifestyle medicine healthcare professionals to help tackle noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
The Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine course, developed and implemented by WCM-Q’s Institute for Population Health (IPH), provides 60 hours of rigorous training, equipping healthcare practitioners with the knowledge and skills to aid in the prevention, evaluation and management of lifestyle-related chronic health conditions, which are currently the leading causes of premature mortality around the world. Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research and Dr. Sohaila Cheema, Assistant Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research, serve as course directors.
The inaugural iteration of the course has just concluded, with more than 40 healthcare practitioners completing the five-day onsite element of the program, consisting of seminars and interactive discussions led by leading lifestyle medicine physicians from Qatar, the US, and Australia on subjects such as diet and nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation, emotional and mental wellbeing, building resilience to stress and sleep science. To receive the WCM-Q Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine, the participants must also complete a 30-hour online training component.
Dr. Mamtani said: “Lifestyle-related diseases are now the biggest killers globally and the traditional healthcare approach of treating these diseases when they appear is not very effective in managing them. That’s why the Institute of Population Health at WCM-Q is pursuing a new approach based on lifestyle medicine, which is designed to help healthcare professionals guide and support patients to adopt healthy lifestyle habits in the long-term to prevent, treat and in many cases even reverse chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, among others.”
The participants at the onsite element of the course, held at WCM-Q’s campus at Education City, heard from a team of local and visiting international experts. WCM-Q faculty and staff members who spoke at the event were Dr. Mamtani, who also holds the posts of Professor of Medicine (Center for Global Health) and Vice Dean for Student Affairs-Admissions, Population Health, and Lifestyle Medicine; Dr. Javaid Sheikh, Dean of WCM-Q; Dr. Cheema, who is also the Director of the Institute for Population Health; Dr. Shahrad Taheri, Professor of Medicine; Dr. Mohamud Verjee, Associate Professor of Family Medicine in Clinical Medicine and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs; and Ms. Sobia Rahman, Psychologist/Learning Support Specialist and Wellness Counselor. The event also heard from Dr. Ahmad Al Mulla, Senior Consultant on Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health, who spoke about tobacco cessation.
The visiting experts speaking at the event were Dr. Darren Morton of Avondale College of Higher Education in New South Wales, Australia; Dr. Benjamin Kligler of the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York; Dr. Wayne S. Dysinger of Lifestyle Medical in California; and Mr. Stephan Herzog of the American and International Boards of Lifestyle Medicine.
Speaking at the event on the subject of building resilience, Dr. Sheikh said: “Modern lifestyles can place very significant demands on people while also isolating them from traditional sources of support, such as friends and extended family networks, which in some cases can lead to chronic anxiety. It is therefore very important that we help people to develop resilience so that they have a set of skills and strategies they can draw upon to manage their stress, maintain close and supportive relationships, and seek help when they need it.”
Summarizing the lifestyle medicine approach, Dr. Cheema said: “Building strong, highly individualized long-term therapeutic relationships with patients is key to the success of lifestyle medicine approaches. Getting to know what attributes and challenges each patient has will allow practitioners to provide the most effective package of care and support for them possible. Promoting healthy habits must be the foundation for health.”