The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) Medical University of Bahrain is celebrating two decades of nurturing Bahraini healthcare professionals and fostering a culture of research and patient care.

Talking exclusively to the GDN, RCSI Bahrain managing director Stephen Harrison-Mirfield exudes a quiet confidence as he looks back on the healthcare education powerhouse’s remarkable journey.

From its humble beginnings in 2004 with just 28 medical students, the university has grown into a comprehensive institution with over 1,600 students in three schools.

Mr Harrison-Mirfield, a man with a keen eye for detail, rattles off a list of milestones that paint a picture of impressive growth.

In 2006, the School of Nursing and Midwifery was established, followed by the School of Postgraduate Studies and Research in 2008.

The opening of a dedicated campus in 2009 provided a vibrant international learning environment.

Recognition for RCSI Bahrain’s achievements came in 2014 with accreditation from the Irish Medical Council, followed by the Bahrain Higher Education Council (HEC) in 2019.

A significant milestone was achieved in 2021 when the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK granted RCSI Bahrain graduates’ exemption from Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) examinations, a mark of exceptional quality.

RCSI Bahrain’s transnational education model with the RCSI in Dublin, ensures its graduates are equipped to compete on a global stage.

This unique approach extends to faculty recruitment and assessment procedures, ensuring a rigorous and internationally recognised standard of education.

However, RCSI Bahrain is not just about graduating doctors and nurses. Mr Harrison-Mirfield highlights the university’s commitment to the Bahraini community.

“In 2012 we launched a Diabetes Mobile Unit, which has reached over 5,400 schoolchildren, raising awareness about healthy lifestyles to combat childhood obesity and diabetes,” he said.

RCSI Bahrain’s dedication to healthcare advancement was acknowledged in 2021 with the prestigious Prince Salman bin Hamad Medal for Medical Merit, recognising its contributions to clinical trials and student volunteerism.

This commitment to health and well-being was further solidified in 2023 with the WHO Healthy University Certification.

RCSI Bahrain’s early years were not without challenges. Establishing a reputation in the region was a key hurdle. However, the university thrived and today it is a significant contributor to the Bahraini economy, contributing an estimated $91 million annually.

“This economic impact extends beyond the student body, as the university employs over 230 full-time staff members, half of whom are Bahraini nationals. Additionally, RCSI Bahrain has provided financial aid to over 1,081 students, totalling $15 million over the past seven years,” said Mr Harrison-Mirfield.

A PwC report projects the university’s annual economic contribution to the kingdom to reach $102m by 2027.

As RCSI Bahrain embarks on its third decade, its vision is one of continued growth and expansion.

A new academic building is planned with an additional 8,000-sqm of usable space, increasing its size by 140 per cent. The university is also exploring specialised healthcare programmes, including a Doctorate in Medicine and master’s degrees in specialised nursing fields.

Mr Harrison-Mirfield speaks with confident ambition when he describes RCSI Bahrain’s role in shaping the region’s healthcare landscape.

The university fosters a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging its alumni to pursue further training and research.

“This alumni network, with over 3,000 members in 38 countries as of June 2023, plays a vital role in delivering quality healthcare services around the world,” he added.

Notably, a significant number of graduates choose to work in the United States, Canada, and the UK, reflecting the university’s international standing.

Beyond its core mission, RCSI Bahrain is also a leader in environmental responsibility. The university’s solar farm, a significant contributor to renewable energy in the region, underscores its commitment to sustainability.

The university aims to become carbon neutral in the coming decade.

To be a beacon of healthcare education and research, not just in the Gulf, but on the world stage is the RCSI’s vision moving ahead.

Professor Alfred Nicholson, an Irishman with a twinkle in his eye and a firm handshake, has been at the helm of RCSI Bahrain’s School of Medicine for years.

Highlighting the university’s commitment to a future focussed curriculum, Prof Nicholson shared insights into RCSI Bahrain’s learning methodology.

“We recently rolled out a new curriculum, emphasising small group learning and case-based studies, mirroring the realities of modern medical practice,” he explained. This forward-thinking approach, he noted, prepares graduates not just for Bahrain’s healthcare system, but also for the global stage.

When asked how RCSI Bahrain caters to the unique cultural needs of its student body, a mix of Bahrainis and international students, Dr Nicholson said, “Our faculty is a diverse bunch, with senior academics from Ireland and the UK working alongside local clinical lecturers.”

Strong relationships with local hospitals like the King Hamad University Hospital (KHUH) are crucial. Here, Prof Nicholson highlighted the importance of constant dialogue. “We have regular meetings with our partner hospitals to understand their evolving needs,” he explained. This collaborative approach ensures that RCSI Bahrain graduates are well equipped to hit the ground running upon entering the workforce.

Nowhere is this focus on relevance more evident than in the newly launched internship programme, a joint initiative between RCSI Bahrain and major medical centres like the King Hamad American Mission Hospital. This programme provides invaluable hands-on experience for fresh graduates, easing their transition into the professional world.

Finally, the conversation turned to research, a cornerstone of RCSI Bahrain’s mission. “Research isn’t just an academic pursuit; it’s the engine that drives better healthcare,” Prof Nicholson asserted.

He then rattled off impressive statistics: 358 publications, three-quarters involving international collaborations. From pioneering research on diabetes and obesity to establishing a dedicated Clinical Trials Unit, RCSI Bahrain is actively shaping the region’s healthcare future.

Looking ahead, plans for a Doctorate in Medicine programme aim to create a pipeline of future Bahraini researchers, fostering a culture of innovation.


Copyright 2022 Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (