Though they do not live in Pakistan this is where their dreams came true. On Thursday night, the first batch of 25 overseas students graduated from Dow International Medical College. Their convocation was held at Governor House where 21 students, flanked by their teachers and the vice chancellor of Dow University of Health Sciences, Prof Masood Hameed Khan, took the Hippocratic Oath.
Most of students were US nationals while a significant chunk was from Canada and the United Arab Emirates. After graduating from college, most of them, with aspirations to work abroad, intend to sit the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
Five students, Syeda Ghalia Fatima, Arhana Fatima, Urooj Ali Khan, Nida Arshad Usman and Nimra Iftikhar Baig were awarded medals for passing with distinction.
Syed Waqar Ahmed, a student who had arrived to study from Sharjah after completing his A-levels, told The Express Tribune that to study medicine in Pakistan was a good catch for the students, especially those from Canada and the U.S. This is because it takes at least eight years to complete the degree there, said Ahmed. “The medical education there is also very expensive,” he added. As for the middle-eastern countries, Ahmed added that the quality of medical education is worse as compared to Pakistan. “The name of Dow University of Health Sciences gets attraction throughout the middle east,” he said.
His friend, Omar Waqar Naveed, pointed out that they were getting a standard education with a cheaper fee and a greater exposure to clinical practice than the students at Aga Khan University Hospital. “Our fee is $11,000 now while that of Aga Khan’s is $24,000 per year and students there can’t have the opportunity to get a hand on patients,” said Naveed. He added that the graduating batch was particularly lucky because the fee has just been increased to $15,000 per year which is still cheaper.
A group of male students said that they envied the girls at the college for being facilitated with a dorm since the beginning in 2007. To this, Naveed added on a serious note that till the last year, the boys had faced extreme hardships owing to the unavailability of dorms. They not only had to arrange accommodation for themselves but also brave the law and order situation in a city that was new for them. “Our parents used to call us and fret over the situation whenever they saw the news on TV.”
Students think that due to law and order situation in Karachi studies suffer and that may even become a reason of decline in enrolment at the DIMC. The governor expressed his pleasure on having the opportunity to upgrade his alma mater to a university that now houses an international college as well. “Just after a year of becoming the governor, I gave the approval for this international college in June 2007,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to see the first batch, which has worked hard for five years before my eyes.”
Prof Khan thanked the governor for giving Dow Medical College (DMC) the status of a university in December 2003. He said that since he took charge of the university it has successfully established 39 institutions and the DIMC is one of them. This year’s valedictorian, Dr Faisal Chaudhry, gave an emotional speech in which he recalled old memories and paid tribute to his fellow students.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.