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Nevada nurse tackles new challenges in the Middle East

Ranya Fakih, RN, BSN, MBA, plans to use the clinical and leadership skills honed as the former clinical supervisor at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, Las Vegas, to tackle new challenges at a new women’s hospital in Qatar.

“It’s an amazing experience,” said Fakih, clinical nurse manager of the Women’s Care Unit at Sidra Medical and Research Center, expected to open in 2015 in Doha, that nation’s capital. In her new role, Fakih will assist in shaping the care offered at the new women’s hospital while bringing together an international team of women’s health professionals. She is married and a mother of two children.

Fakih first heard about Sidra from a urogynecology physician she worked with in Washington, D.C. It sparked her interest, but she did not pursue it. She later moved to Nevada. While watching television one night, she again heard about Sidra and decided to investigate the opportunities.

Born in the United Arab Emirates, Fakih said she was fortunate to have grown up and been educated in the U.S., but the Middle East still held an allure.

“Women in [the Middle East] are sometimes underserved,” she said. “My specialty is gynecology, and they were looking for someone with my skill set.”

Joining Sidra before the facility opens, Fakih is working with other clinicians, developing policies and procedures, determining staffing ratios, preparing budgets, buying equipment and incorporating evidence-based practice. She indicated the most important thing she has learned is patience as she seeks consensus.

“You collaborate with people from the international community,” Fakih explained. “We put our knowledge together and come up with the Sidra way of doing things.”

In addition to obstetrics and gynecology, the hospital will care for women with other conditions, including those needing critical care services. The hospital is affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.

“It’s been eye opening for me to see how other countries do [things],” she said. “We are different, but we are similar. Although there are gradations in how we practice, we’re similar.”

She credits her experience serving on committees and working on policy reviews at Summerlin and mentor relationships with senior leaders at the Las Vegas facility with preparing her for new challenges.

“We were encouraged and pushed to get involved on the organizational level; stepping into the [new] environment wasn’t uncomfortable for me,” Fakih said. “I had a support system [at Summerlin] that encouraged me to continue my education and to look for ways to improve my leadership skills.”

The Fakih family lives in an apartment in downtown Doha provided by Sidra. About 70% of the residents work at Sidra. Living close to the people she works with has allowed Fakih to get to know her colleagues as moms and dads, softball coaches and Brownie leaders.

“It reminds us we are all humans and have a lot of the same commonalities,” Fakih said. “It’s been an easy adjustment and we felt settled in a week or two.”

To Qatar, she brought a home computer, some clothing and a few books and toys for her sons. At first, Fakih was a little concerned about whether she would find the boys’ favorite cereals and other foods, but that proved not to be a problem. She enrolled the boys in a British school.

Fakih feels safe and has given her children more freedom to play with friends. She walks at night to buy a cup of coffee or ice cream. Fakih will likely return to the U.S. at some point, but has no immediate plans to do so. She plans to travel recreationally in the region and leave her mark on a new facility.

“What it’s done for me in leadership and project management skills, and being able to get involved in something there is a lot of passion behind and is groundbreaking in the region is amazing,” Fakih said. “It’s something most of us in countries with more established facilities will never experience.”

From the U.S. to Qatar: How long did it take?

January 2013: Fakih applied to work at Sidra Medical and Research Center in Qatar, interviewed by telephone, received an offer to work there and accepted the position.

Spring 2013: Fakih finished her master’s degree and prepared immigration paperwork, including obtaining birth and marriage certificates and nursing educational documentation. She hired a property-management company to rent her home, and she put all of the family’s belongings in storage.

July 4, 2013: Fakih and family left the U.S.
July 7, 2013: Fakih began working at Sidra.

Tips for taking an assignment in the Middle East

Are you a candidate for a Middle East assignment? Yearning for adventure? Helen Ziegler of Helen Ziegler & Associates, a Toronto firm specializing in Middle Eastern placements, reported that the people who most enjoy and are most successful working in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the
Persian Gulf have these qualities:

• Nonjudgmental personality
• Extroverted with many outside interests and activities
• Curiosity about other healthcare systems and cultures
• Thrive on new experiences and have a sense of adventure
• Flexible and able to adapt nursing practice to a different healthcare and cultural environment while delivering safe, quality care.

By | 2014-08-08T00:00:00-04:00 August 8th, 2014|Categories: Regional, West|0 Comments

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