Dr. Lemmese Al Watban’s education has spanned over 15 years and two countries. After graduating with a MBBS (Bachelors of Medicine and Bachelors of Surgery) from King Saud University in 2003, Dr. Al Watban completed one year of an internal medicine residency program at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. However she soon realized that the specialty wasn’t for her.
“By the time the patients come into the ward, the damage is done. I wanted to do more preventative medicine,” said Dr. Al Watban.
When a scholarship position became available with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at King Saud University, Dr. Al Watban jumped at the opportunity and successfully landed the position. At this time, the university was quite “traditional” in their practice and hadn’t sent females abroad to study.
“I felt honoured to have been chosen for the scholarship position,” said Dr. Al Watban. “This is what brought me to Canada.”
Dr. Al Watban completed her family medicine residency at the University of Alberta and ultimately stayed in Canada for eight years. She practiced in Edmonton while completing her courses in the MClSc program. She then moved to London, Ontario to complete her thesis for her MClSc and also an enhanced skills training program in women’s health in The Department of Family Medicine at Western University.
When asked why she chose to pursue the Master of Clinical Science in Family Medicine program, Dr. Al Watban replied, “because I had been given the scholarship position at King Saud University, I was considered a junior academic staff and I would have academic responsibilities once I returned. The program at Western seemed to fit the bill.”
Western’s MClSc program includes courses that focus on teaching, curriculum planning, one on one mentoring, research and patient-centred care.
“The courses were phenomenal,” said Dr. Al Watban. “I felt privileged to be taught by professors who shaped the field of family medicine.”
While the program’s online discussion/forum approach is different than more traditional modes of education, Dr. Al Watban felt it added another dimension and made the learning experience that much deeper.
“Other students would challenge you, and made me think of the material in a different way. I was in love with all aspects of the courses.”
Dr. Al Watban has returned to Saudi Arabia and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at King Saud University and a consultant in women's and sexual health at King Khalid University hospital. She is responsible for developing curriculum, supervising research projects and one on one mentoring.
“I can see the MClSc fitting into every aspect of my job,” said Dr. Al Watban. “While challenging, the masters (program) provided me with the cornerstone that I can launch from.”
Having been away from the country for eight years, Dr. Al Watban acknowledges that so much has changed in Saudi Arabia. She plans on sitting back and taking it all in.
As she looks to the future she hopes to have a strong role in working with the students and in faculty development.
“Young minds are coming in and you can have a big impact on their future careers and their confidence,” said Dr. Al Watban. “Do they (the faculty) have the tools to teach and make a difference?”