American University of Beirut

  • History


    ​​​Department of Family Medicine​

    The Department of Family Medicine was established in 1979. It is the first family medicine program in the Arab world. In that same year, the Department assisted in launching another program in Bahrain. In 1982, it played an important role in establishing the Arab Board for Family Practice. On the national scene, it plays an instrumental role in promoting primary care. Our staff is involved in providing expertise to several regional programs in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and others.

    We are the only training site that can sit for the in-training examination prepared by the American Board of Family Practice outside the United States. This allows residents in Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Hotel Dieu De France in Beirut to sit with our residents for the exam. Over the years, our residents’ performance in this test was more than satisfactory. Many of our residents scored above the ninetieth percentile.

    The research output is one of the best in the region. The Department produced the first communication skills video in Arabic which was used by several programs in the region.

    The department has also been highly involved in teaching medical students. All our full-timers teach problem-based learning to first year medical students. Fourth year medical students have a one month clerkship in family medicine. The Department coordinates an ethics course given to third year medical students. Over the last three years, our staff has been instructing second year and fourth year students in communication skills.

    Several foreign students, residents, and family physicians had rotations in our Department. Our program can build an educational program tailored to the needs of learners when requested.

    On the clinical level, the department expanded over the last seven years. During this period a family medicine team was established to look after in-hospital patients. Our physicians and residents manage the health of more than thirteen thousand students, employees and their dependents, and provide 24 hour emergency coverage for the same population

    University Health Services/Gulbenkian clinic

    The University Health Services (UHS) started as a one room dispensary in Bliss and Thomson Hall in 1945. At that time, it was part of the Department of Internal Medicine. In 1949, the Gulbenkian (Infirmary) building was completed and the University Health Services became an administrative part of the Faculty of Medicine.

    In the early 50's, a group of AUB professors and employees met and decided to start the Hospital Insurance Plan (HIP). At that time, there were no health insurance plans in the country. That plan covered 50 % of hospital expenses and the university covered the remainder. Specialty consultations were carried out on a courtesy basis without any records kept nor any charges done. HIP gradually developed into a comprehensive Health Insurance Plan with the University Health Services as its primary care provider. In the early 60's and 70's, the number of patients seen at UHS hovered around 60. It became around 100/day in the 70's, and currently it ranges between 150 - 200/day.

    In July 1995, the University Health Services was merged within the Department of Family Medicine.

    Residents' Training Clinic

    The "residents' training clinic" was founded in 1979 as part of the Faculty of Medicine. Family Medicine was established to satisfy training and accreditation requirement. The program was the first of its kind in the Arab world and was designed by a task force headed by Dr. Haroutune Armenian and Dr. Caesar Shediak with help from Drs. Vincent Hunt from Rhode Island and Hiram Curry from Medical University of South Carolina among others. Dr. Caesar Shediac was recruited as the first department chair to implement the program. The vision was to change general practice in Lebanon from basic curative care to care with a social, preventive, and psychological perspective. The “Family Doctor” had to have a “biopsychosocial” perspective to the care of each individual and be well trained in common ambulatory medical problems. The department has maintained the number of its residents at around 6 per year. After its inception, numerous changes were introduced by Drs. Marius Chaghoury, Samir Sidani, Ghassan Hamadeh and Mustafa Khogali. The most recent changes were implemented by Dr. Umayya Musharrafieh in collaboration with Dr. Bassem Saab in his capacity as program director who reformed the program to include systematic training for both students and residents in communication skills, doctor-patient relationship, medical ethics, and informatics. They used objective structured clinical examinations as final graduation certification exams.

    Currently, the Family Medicine residents’ training clinic is integrated in the Family Medicine Clinics along with the private self-pay practice and the pre-paid University Health Services practice. The three clinics operate as one unit with the “ residents’ training clinic ” managed by the Family Medicine residents and their preceptors who are always available to supervise and assist them. The Family Medicine Residents are trained and prepared to manage common physical, emotional, and chronic disease conditions as well as provide counseling and advice regarding disease prevention and health promotion for all age groups. They offer routine baby and child care, adolescent and adult medicine, geriatric care, women’s health, family planning, and minor surgery.

    ​ In 2015, the residents’ training clinic became part of the primary care center network affiliated with the Ministry of Public Health. As a result of this affiliation, underprivileged patients could benefit from discounted priced acute and chronic medication, while children received their vaccinations free of charge. ​ ​

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