Top 5 Reasons Why Studying Medicine in Israel is Sababa (Hebrew for: Awesome)

Many people often would study abroad for medical school, especially if they want a different experience. Dahlia Pasik lists the best reasons why studying medicine in Israel is a unique and fulfilling experience. 

Kosher Food. And a lot of it – Whether you are Jewish, Italian, Christian, or perhaps a bit of all three, there is one thing Israel is in no shortage of for one to enjoy – and that’s kosher food. Sure, you will likely find kosher products distributed amongst various supermarkets in countries in the USA and in Canada, but not close to the proportion that Israel has to offer. So whether it’s falafel, shawarma, or just a good taste of steamy fresh potato kugel (Yiddish for pudding) you’re craving, the Holy Land has got you covered.

More Hands-On Medical Experience – Israeli culture is quite different than typical American/Canadian culture. I remember when I was a premed and was looking to shadow a doctor in a locally based hospital in NY, there were so many permission forms to fill out and medical records to be tracked, I might have been better off just never shadowing. Once approved to follow this particular doctor, the hospital was so stringent about non-medical professionals being able to observe medically related procedures, I probably would’ve gained more exposure from watching a few melodramatic Greys Anatomy episodes. Well, Israel is different in this department. The culture here is more flexible of aspiring physicians (be that pre-meds or med students) to observe doctors and to really get a more hand-on experience of what being a doctor feels like. This is extremely helpful for any aspiring physician. For how can you know you’d like to be a GI doctor without ever having observed an actual procedure? Well, Israel is the right place for that – and we, as med students, greatly indulge in this Israeli attitude with regards to increased hands-on exposure.

Exposure to Different Cultures – Israel is a melting pot of different cultures. You will come across Muslims, Israelis, Arabs, Russians, and Ethiopians in the hospitals here to a greater degree than you would see in the USA/Canada. Being able to treat as well learning to treat all of these different cultures induces sensitivity and awareness that would not be possible if you were studying medicine in the USA. Perhaps a Muslim may feel uncomfortable about a specific procedure due to religious beliefs, or an Israeli you treat only speaks in Hebrew – this will all prove helpful in being able to relate as well as effectively communicate with people from varying cultures when and if you come across them back in the USA during residency and beyond.

Frontier in Technology – Israel is at the forefront of technological innovation. One example, is their recent application of medical marijuana to be used as an inhaler for healing purposes, which has been signed with the huge Israeli pharmaceutical company, Teva. One startup, called Zebra Medical Vision, enables computers to interpret medical imaging. I am lucky enough to be studying at the Technion, a world renowned and prestigious university. The first Nobel prize winners in Israel were awarded to Technion faculty. Technion has so far produced 4 Nobel prize laureates. In a Bloomberg Rankings list done in 2013, Technion was the only school outside of the United States to make it into the top 10 of schools whose graduates are CEOs of top US tech companies. Being able to study at a first class university in technological innovation in a country that is at the cutting edge of medical research is an experience I would be unable to gain in any other country or institution.

Historical Goldmine – Okay, so you may be wondering why this is cool, considering we are becoming doctors and not archaeologists. But there is little argument around the fact that Israel is filled with ancient religious and historic sites. There is the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, the site of the Jew’s First and Second Temple.  Jesus walked in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  There is the Moslem Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.  There are Roman ruins in Cesaria.  Must I go on? Needless to say, if you’re ever on the hunt for some expansion of your historical knowledge base, take a few tours around Israel – and you will be more than satisfied. For what better way is there to take a break from medicine than to dabble in some history?

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Dahlia Pasik, "Almost" MD

Dahlia Pasik grew up in Long Beach, NY, a few short blocks from the beach. She graduated with a Bachelors in Biology from Stern College of Yeshiva University NY, NY and is currently an MD Candidate of the class of 2020 at Technion American Medical School in Haifa, Israel - where she gets to enjoy a local beach there as well. Aside from her constant indulgence of living in beach towns, medicine has been her calling since elementary school, and she looks forward to fulfilling her dream of healing the world.