Navigating effective ways to provide high quality community healthcare services to patients at risk, both in America and northern Israel, is among the major learning insights of students participating in a new exchange program between Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va., and the Bar-Ilan University Medical School (BIUMS) in Safed, Israel.
Steven Warsof, MD, EVMS Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN), helped bridge the relationship between the two schools.
“Teaching in Safed combines my three passions — getting closer to my family in Israel, teaching obstetrics and helping Israel in the best way I know how, ” he said.
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The EVMS student exchange program for medical students is being funded by a generous gift from Ron and Cindy Kramer and their family from Virginia Beach. The BIUMS student exchange program is being funded by a grant along with gifts from members of the Maimonides Society of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
The first phase of the exchange program allows students in their last year of medical school planning to specialize in OB/GYN. It gives them the opportunity to broaden their medical experience before starting residency training. The exchange program got underway last year with two EVMS students traveling to Israel and two BIUMS students traveling to the United States for a four-week stint.
Dr. Warsof was inspired to start this program after volunteering his services to BIUMS and its partner hospital, Ziv Medical Center. He was impressed by how quickly the Medical School has had a positive impact on improving healthcare in the Galilee.
Founded three years ago, the Bar-Ilan University Medical School shares EVMS’ community focus as it was created for the purpose of providing improved medical care in an underserved community. Because of the very mixed socioeconomic and cultural background in both Hampton Roads and northern Israel, there are many potential opportunities for unique public health and community health projects for both students and doctors in this exchange program.
Phase two of this program, which is now being launched, involves faculty exchanges between the two schools. In December 2014, Ed Karotkin, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, spent a week as the guest of Eric Shinwell, MD, Director of Neonatology at Ziv Medical Center. Dr. Karotkin has expressed interest in expanding his role at BIUMS in the near future.
The final phase of the program involves developing collaborative research between the partner institutions. Dr. Warsof and David Peleg, MD, a physician at Ziv Medical Center, have already published several scientific articles and abstracts through joint efforts between the two schools.