Qassim College of Medicine was conceived as an institution having a new direction and philosophy. After passing of the official resolution for establishment of College of Medicine, Qassim Branch of King Saud University, a committee of five members was formed to design the curriculum for the new College. The committee was headed by Prof. Saleh Damegh, who was also appointed the Dean of the new college. All of the other four members belonged to the Medical Education Center at College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh: Dr. Khalid A. Kalantan; Dr. Abdullah M. Abo Bakr; Dr. Mohi Eldin Magzoub; and Dr. Ibrahim A. Al-Orainy. The committee was assisted by Dr. Bashir Hamad, a well-known medical educationist of the Middle Eastern Region.
The committee deliberated over curriculum design and teaching strategies for an entire academic year, during which it had several meetings. The committee reviewed 25 curricula from different medical colleges from around the world, and many regional and international programs were studied. A number of medical education experts from abroad helped the committee in the review and scrutiny of various teaching strategies. The final approved product was the “Proposed Curriculum for Undergraduate Medical Education at College of Medicine, 1421/1422 (200/2001)”. This curriculum was the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia: it proposed a problem-based approach to teach an integrated curriculum that was community-oriented and research-based.
Each part of the prepared document was discussed in a series of meetings of the College Council (Dean Dr S. A. Al Damegh, Dr I. Al Hogail, Dr A. Alghasham and Dr M. Al Orainy) with Prof. Bashir Hamad before finalisation. Several sub-committees were then formed to review and examine the pre-clinical and clinical phases. Since the College did not have its own hospital, the clinical clerkship phase was implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Health, using its hospitals and primary healthcare facilities.
During the following years, the curriculum went through several rounds of reviews, modifications and up gradation. The present curriculum document includes the following: a detailed introduction section, including the rationale for adopting the PBL approach; a section on curriculum planning; an expanded mission statement that includes functions of the College in each of the three domains (education, research and service); and teaching modules (blocks) that have a new format – their components were fully rewritten after extensive consultation with experts and detailed meetings with faculty. The institutional goals and objectives were also revised and rearranged and several new objectives were added in accordance with the Global Standards of Medical Education set by the World Federation for Medical Education (2003). The new document included detailed annexes and a full list of references to provide sources of further information to students and faculty. Finally, the problem-sets were also revised and upgraded to match with the requirements of the new curriculum. The final outcome of this extensive work, spread over a period of more than five years, is a comprehensive curriculum document that is used as a guide by students and faculty and is also a valuable source of information for other medical institutions (a copy of the curriculum document is in Annex 1).
The QUCOM curriculum is oriented towards training students to undertake the responsibilities of a physician of first contact who is capable of looking after the preventive, curative and rehabilitative aspects of medicine. Curriculum aims to ensure that our graduates have a good working understanding of biological, psychological and social mechanisms and processes, as well as their impact on health and disease, based on principles of learning drawn from cognitive psychology. Emphasis is given to critical thinking and self-directed learning.