Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

International Collaboration

KIMS partnership highlights range of Royal College consulting services

Our desire is to assist global partners in improving their training systems so that patients can be assured of quality care. Our academic collaborations with hospitals and medical schools set the foundation for this goal.

One of our growing partnerships is in Kuwait.

Kuwait is intent on becoming a leader in medical education in the Gulf region. We have worked closely with the Kuwait Institute for Medical Specialization (KIMS) since 2016 to reach its objectives. This collaboration has enabled us to provide KIMS with support that includes accreditation consultations, faculty development, and exam development and facilitation.

KIMS has since achieved Royal College Institutional Accreditation — the first step towards the accreditation of postgraduate medical education (PGME) programs. This status recognizes that an institution is committed to continuous improvement in PGME and has the necessary infrastructure to support it. KIMS is now well on its way to having programs assessed against the Royal College standards and we are working with our Kuwaiti peers and domestic specialty committees to assess each program.

We are currently in discussions to extend this partnership for several more years and to expand the collaboration’s scope to include continuing professional development, physician leadership, simulation and scholarly research.


Dr. Maitham Husain got an early education in the complexities of medical practice when he volunteered at a hospital during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. As an 18-year-old first-year medical student, he suddenly found himself inside an operating room. “I was helping surgeons operate on victims of mines, people whose limbs had to be amputated or who had severe fractures.”

Those early experiences taught him a lot about both clinical work and how hospitals are run. He has worked throughout his career to improve medical education in both these areas. “My belief is that teaching competencies early helps the health system a lot.”

After postgraduate training in Canada, Dr. Husain passed Royal College exams in Pediatrics and Clinical Immunology and Allergy. He then returned to Kuwait to share what he’d learned. “The Canadian health care system helped me develop competencies to become not only a good clinician but an advocate for patients through system transformation.”

Quality improvement in residency education is his passion

Today, Dr. Husain is director of the NBK Children’s Hospital in Kuwait and head of Accreditation & Quality Affairs at the Kuwait Institute for Medical Specialization (KIMS). One of his many innovative initiatives is an annual residency education conference focusing on safety and quality; attendance is mandatory for all first-year residents. He also established residency rotations in leadership, quality and patient safety.

To improve medical education in Kuwait, Dr. Husain has reached out globally. He’s a regional ambassador for the International Medical Education Leaders Forum. He also played a key role in developing a groundbreaking collaboration between the Royal College and KIMS. “Collaboration with the Royal College provides substantial support in terms of experts and in the area of quality improvement in medical education and examination.”

The collaboration focuses on three key areas: accreditation, faculty development and examination. Every year, about 100 Royal College volunteers travel to Kuwait to examine residents. “This provides credibility and assurance to the public that we are providing a good quality exam and good quality training.”

In 2017, KIMS received Royal College Institutional Accreditation. “It was a landmark for us. It’s been a big success. Canadian universities have become more open to accepting residents from Kuwait. Other royal colleges in the UK and beyond are offering fellowships and sub-specialty training.”

In 2018, Dr. Husain received a prestigious Royal College International Collaboration Award for his many achievements. “As a fellow residing outside Canada, I am extremely proud that the College is supporting me to help my country achieve the best medical education possible.”

International development, aid and collaboration

We believe in helping countries provide high quality postgraduate medical education (which links directly to patient care). We decided this year that development, aid and collaboration projects will fall under the supervision of Royal College International (RCI), where they will benefit from centralized leadership and program delivery.

We will work alongside peers in

  • faculties of medicine,
  • national specialty societies,
  • Canadian registered charitable organizations,
  • Canadian nongovernmental organizations and others, to increase our impact.

These activities will be funded in-part using revenues from RCI consulting services.

This new model for engagement is guiding the development of two new projects — one each in Ethiopia and Rwanda — in collaboration with Queen’s University, the University of Toronto, Dalhousie University and the Canadian Anesthesiology International Education Foundation.

Structured for success – RCI governance review

  • Royal College International (RCI) underwent a governance review in 2018 to ensure that we are positioned to deliver on the priorities identified in the Royal College strategic plan. This review was also to ensure that RCI’s governance, leadership and management structures are appropriate to support RCI’s continued growth. It was decided that RCI will remain a non-profit registered charity and controlled subsidiary of the Royal College. RCI will also continue to have its own governing board of directors and President/CEO.

Growing number of international partnerships

The Royal College continues to develop and host many international conferences related to postgraduate medical education. These meetings emphasize the improvement of faculty and residents’ skills and competencies. We have a growing number of these partnerships – both within Canada and abroad.

We evaluate every international partnership opportunity against criteria. This includes whether our prospective partners’ goals are aligned with both our organizational and Canadian values, and fall within our educational mandate. In 2018, Council approved formal “engagement criteria” which will guide RCI in its international growth, to ensure the values and interests of the Royal College are upheld.

Learn more about our range of international activities:

Report on the Royal College’s international collaborations

Spotlight on Latin America

We conducted consulting visits and faculty development activities at the Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago, Chile. The Royal College’s expanding reputation in Latin America has also led to some strong new partnerships in Mexico and other countries across the region.

We are starting a new collaboration with the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. Our efforts are aimed at improving skills and knowledge among Mexican residents, and possibly establishing a centre of excellence for residency education within Mexico.

We also hosted a satellite International Medical Education Leaders Forum (IMELF) in Mexico (Monterrey) in late 2018. It brought together leaders in medical education from the surrounding area. IMELF-Monterrey is part of our ongoing series of regionally hosted IMELF meetings, tailored to the local context.

Spotlight on China

Our activities in China include the pursuit of institution accreditation and program accreditation, as well as faculty development engagements and conferences.

In 2018, we ran a Simulation Educators Training (SET) Course at Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital in June – our third offering of this course in the region since 2017. We also conducted a two-day trauma workshop for Dalian Medical University.

Several agreements were also renewed, including our Memorandum of Understanding with the Henan Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission.

Peking University First Hospital, our first partner in China, is working towards renewal of their Royal College Institutional Accreditation status in July 2019. They are currently working with Royal College program advisors to strengthen their programs in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine.

Spotlight on the Gulf Region

Canada is renowned for the high quality of its medical education and for its highly qualified medical workforce – not only specialist physicians, but also nurses, dentists, pharmacists and a range of other professionals. In 2018, the Canadian International Health Education Association (CIHEA) incorporated as a trade association. Its goal is to represent the best of what Canada’s health workforce can offer to our health care partners abroad. CIHEA currently has 40 member organizations, including the Canadian Nurses Association, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, several Canadian universities and colleges, and private enterprises.

In April 2018, Dr. Padmos, CEO of the Royal College and chair of the CIHEA Board of Directors, led the group’s first trade mission to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Dozens of collaborative opportunities were identified, and many new introductions were made.

Canada’s diplomatic rupture with Saudi Arabia

  • Several of our partners in Saudi Arabia have achieved Royal College Institutional Accreditation, and two partners recently achieved a major milestone on their paths towards achieving full program accreditation. As we were making arrangements in 2018 for final agreements with many Saudi partners, a rupture occurred in the diplomatic relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

    We helped coordinate stakeholders in shared advocacy with all parties in the federal government to express an interest in resolving this impasse. For the time being, all pre-existing and future projects in Saudi Arabia are on hold. We are currently assessing the resumption of our work, based on a number of factors including the current political climate and readiness of both parties to reengage.

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