An Evaluation of Emory University's King Abdullah Fellowship Program Open Access

Matar, Lea Ghassan (2016)

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Background: Strengthening the public health workforce is essential in health and economic development. Public health education and training are crucial for building a proficient workforce and for the advancement of public health related activities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) faces several challenges related to its public health workforce. To offset these workforce challenges, KSA has embarked on a scholarship initiative to fund the education of Saudi students in academic institutions around the world and in various areas of study. This has led to establishment of fellowship programs worldwide, among them the King Abdullah Fellowship (KAFP) Program at Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH), Emory University. The KAFP is a joint effort of KSA and RSPH to further strengthen public health capacity in the Kingdom.

Key Aims: The purpose of the evaluation is to: (1) evaluate whether the program is achieving its mission by understanding its impact on the career and professional development of trainees, and (2) pinpoint areas for improvement which will strengthen the program.

Methods: Using a mixed methods approach: (1) KAFP alumni (n=27) were surveyed to assess impact of KAFP on their professional and career development in the field of public health as perceived by students, and (2) KAFP staff (n=5) were interviewed to assess quality and quantity of support services provided by KAFP that contributed to professional development in the field of public health in KSA, as perceived by staff.

Conclusion: A little over half of the survey respondents indicated that the KAFP has helped in contributing to public health practice and education in KSA. KAFP staff members indicated that the program provided tailored services that supported students academically, socially and culturally during their stay at RSPH, and enhanced their scientific productivity after graduation through providing opportunities and support for publication and attendance of scientific conferences. Overall, the program has proven to positively impact students and contribute to their professional development. Yet, ongoing evaluation as the program continues to grow and develop is important to maintain and improve its standards.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Rationale


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Overview of the Country

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Evolution of the Healthcare System

History of the healthcare system

Current structure of the healthcare system

Challenges in the public health workforce

King Abdullah Fellowship Program

Problem Statement

Significance Statement

Conceptual Framework

Research Questions


Review of the Literature

Health Workforce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

History of labour market

Existing health workforce

Key health issues

Opportunities for health workforce development

King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP)

Overview Statistics

KASP opportunities and benefits


Research Design: A Mixed Methods Approach




Evaluation Plan

Primary Data Analysis


Qualitative Key Findings

Quantitative Key Findings

Discussion and Recommendations

Qualitative Results

Quantitative Results





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