Health manpower development is an area of utmost importance to the Ministry of Health. As early as 1959, a small School of Nursing was established in Bahrain to train local people as nurses. One year after the opening of Salmaniya Hospital, the School started offering a four-year training program for students who had completed the elementary school level. In the ten years between 1965 and 1975, other in-service training programs were initiated by the Ministry of Health in response to the needs of various clinical departments, i.e. the need for laboratory and radiography technicians, pharmacy technicians, nurse-midwives, etc. All these training programs were largely non-academic in orientation and stressed practical, on-the-job training. With the rapid development and expansion of health services in Bahrain, it became evident that a central training institution for preparing Nurses and Allied Health Professionals was crucially needed.
In April 1976, the College of Health Sciences was established to meet the health manpower needs of the health services in Bahrain. In October of that year, the College accepted its first intake of students. By December 2004, more than 4,000 students graduated among different specialties and became some of Bahrain’s much needed middle-level health professionals.
Nursing and Allied Health Education has evolved over the past four decades. Today, the College of Health Sciences is the sole provider of high quality health care education and training for Nurses and Allied Health Professionals in the State of Bahrain.
The College, which is primarily a Community Based College, was established in 1976, under the Governance of the Ministry of Health. The College developed over the past three decades to hold a reputable place in the region. It continually responded to the changes and demands from the health care industry. This led to a steady increase in Bahrainization of nursing and allied health human resources.
The College is located in Manama, the capital of the State of Bahrain. It is situated in the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) together with Salmaniya Hospital and the Arabian Gulf University. This location works to the advantage of the students, all of whom must spend considerable time gaining experience in various departments and clinical areas of the hospital. In addition to these training opportunities, students have access to different health centers, the Public Health Directorate and other specialized hospitals. Today, as the College enters the new millennium, it faces major challenges that include:
- Changes in health care needs and priorities
- Privatization of health care services
- Surpluses in or shortages of Human Resource Production
- Expansion of similar educational colleges in GCC Countries
- Educational advancement and curriculum reforms
- Cost of health professional education.
These challenges were addressed in February 2000 through establishing the College of Health Sciences’ vision, mission and new strategic directions.