Head and Consultant of Rheumatology & Immunology and Clinical Assistant Professor at the College of Medicine & Health Sciences, Al Ain Hospital, UAE
A chance meeting with a medical student at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) put Dr. Khalid Alnaqbi on a path to a career that led him to head Abu Dhabi’s busiest department for patients suffering from inflammatory and autoimmune rheumatic diseases.
Unlike many students who decided to be doctors at an early age, Dr Alnaqbi decided to train in the medical field only two years before studying at the UAE University’s College of Medicine & Health Sciences (CMHS).
"I originally wanted to be a mechanical engineer or a nuclear physicist but while I was in high school I lived in Al Ain city for a week with my friend who was a medical student at the CMHS,” he explained. "I saw what would be my future life at the university and became thrilled to walk on this pathway.”
Dr Alnaqbi retains fond memories of his seven-year spell at the UAEU campus, and describes receiving his doctorate as one of the highlights of his life.
"I had a good time living the life of a medical student at the UAEU,” he recalled. "The best moment was in my seventh year when we were at the College of Medicine waiting for the results of the final exam.
"The Dean came out of the meeting room and shook hands with each of us saying ‘congratulation doctor!’. “At that moment, I felt I was the king of the world! I called my mother and we both cried out of joy.”
Dr Alnaqbi credits the faculty at the UAE’s flagship university for steering him on the successful career path he has enjoyed to date. "At the University we had excellent professors who were role models and encouraged us to advance the wheel of knowledge by participating in research,” he explained. "I also was moved by the passion of the professors of internal medicine.”
It was his mentors at the UAEU who inspired Dr Alnaqbi to make the 11,000km one-way trip to Canada to embark on a ten-year post-graduate educational journey to further his studies and knowledge.
The doctor completed a residency training in internal medicine and rheumatology - followed by a fellowship in Spondyloarthritis - at the University of Toronto. He also obtained Master of Clinical Epidemiology and became the only Emirati to complete the Clinician Investigator Program accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
After a decade in Canada, Dr Alnaqbi decided to return to his home country to share the knowledge he had learned and began work as a Consultant Rheumatologist at Al Ain Hospital, climbing the career path to become the Head of Department and Clinical Assistant Professor. His day-to-day activities now include patient care in the clinics, infusion day care, ward consultations, teaching post-graduate trainees and administrative work.
When it comes to highlights in his career, Dr Alnaqbi has many achievements under his belt, including establishing the infrastructure for the Rheumatology department. This entailed establishing sub-specialty clinics (Early Arthritis Clinic, Connective Tissue Disease Clinic, and Spondylitis Clinic), establishing Infusion Day Care, developing new clinical guidelines for rheumatic diseases and policies on handling infusion drugs for health care workers (rheumatologists, nurses, pharmacists). Dr Alnaqbi was also responsible for developing the Nursing Manual for Rheumatology Department and new patient educational pamphlets.
Not only content in enjoying his own career success, Dr Alnaqbi is committed to passing on the beacon of knowledge to other young medical students.
“I developed undergraduate and post-graduate curricula for family residents and internal residents, obtaining mannequins for teaching injections for soft tissues and joints,” he explained. "Despite limited manpower, I have spent a lot of my personal time to achieve this. Now, we are currently the most productive rheumatology department in the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA)."
When it comes to those who have inspired him the most in his working career, Dr Alnaqbi looks to his own family tree as a motivational force. "I have been inspired by my parents for their hard work and support in raising us and ensuring that we succeed in our lives,” he said. "I lost my mother recently but her inspiration has given me strength to overcome many life challenges."
As an alumnus of UAEU, Dr Alnaqbi credits the university for playing such a key role in his life and he has advice, and a message, for its current students. If you had to give any words of wisdom to current students at the UAEU what would it be? "Love what you do because it will self-motivate you to be better at it,” he said. "Life has many challenges, and it is up to you to decide how you react to these challenges. "Just believe in yourself."
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