RPCI to Train Clinical Staff from Saudi Hospital in Cancer Care

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

BUFFALO, NY — Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and King Fahad Specialist Hospital (KFSH) in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, signed a formal agreement November 16, 2010, under which RPCI will train KFSH clinicians, scientists, nurses and support staff to provide patients in Saudi Arabia with a level of cancer care comparable to that available at RPCI. The collaboration was finalized after negotiations and reciprocal visits by top leaders of the two institutions.

In February 2010, RPCI President and CEO Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP; Candace Johnson, PhD, Deputy Director of the Institute; and Youcef Rustum, PhD, Director of International Collaboration, met with leaders of several hospitals and university centers in Dammam, the major metropolitan center in the Eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia, as well as the capital city, Riyadh. “Many of Saudi Arabia’s health care leaders were trained in the United States and returned to Saudi Arabia to assume major leadership roles,” notes Dr. Rustum. “Now Saudi Arabia is seeking institutions in the West, particularly in the U.S., with whom they can build an effective collaborative opportunity for training their staff in all oncology-related disciplines.” KFSH, he says, wants to “create a mini Roswell Park in Saudi Arabia for their patients.”

The agreement was crafted to address specific needs identified at KFSH, in five areas:

  • Clinical training— Participants can engage in observerships or hands-on training under the guidance of faculty and staff in Surgical Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology, Radiation Medicine, Medical Oncology, Radiology and Blood and Marrow Transplantation (BMT).
  • Research training — Staff will provide training in all areas of basic and translational investigation pursued at RPCI, including pharmacology, genetics, immunology, molecular and cell biology, as well as epidemiology and cancer prevention.
  • Nurse training — Nursing students from KFSH will attend classes at Daemen College in nearby Amherst, NY, and train in clinical oncology at RPCI, following a curriculum being developed by Mary Lou Rusin, EdD, RN, Chair of the Department of Nursing at Daemen College, and Maureen Kelly, RN, MS, Vice President for Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at RPCI.
  • Graduate education— This part of the program will involve students who are enrolled in graduate programs at universities in Saudi Arabia who would like to complete their thesis research at RPCI under the direction of an RPCI mentor, as well as students who apply for admission to a master’s or doctoral program at RPCI on a competitive basis to earn a degree from the Roswell Park Division of the University at Buffalo.
  • Training in allied health professions — RPCI will also provide training in areas such as social work, nutrition and dietary therapy, finance, physical therapy, case management, informational technology, public relations, palliative care, data management and library operations.

Details of the training programs will be determined jointly by KFSH and relevant departments at RPCI. Trainees will stay at RPCI for periods ranging from three weeks to three years, and RPCI’s Office of International Collaboration will coordinate the implementation and monitoring of the program.

KFSH has already identified more than 55 faculty and staff who are candidates for training at RPCI over the next two years. The agreement could have significant academic and economic benefits for both RPCI and KFSH, Dr. Rustum said.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for both partner institutions, and the benefits we’ll see down the road include the potential for placing RPCI as a center of excellence for training foreign graduates in oncology and the opportunity to help develop a standard of care for cancer patients outside the U.S.,” added Dr. Trump.

“I’m looking forward to starting this collaboration,” said KFSH’s CEO, Dr. Khalid Al Shaibani. “We really don’t have access to sufficient facilities to train in all the specialties of cancer.”

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org