The Azrieli School of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University

On the historic day of October 30th, 2011, we witnessed a milestone event in the history of the State of Israel and the history of the Jewish people: The Bar-Ilan University School of Medicine in the Galilee opened its doors in the city of Safed. Faced by a nationwide shortage of physicians and the need to upgrade medical services and infrastructure in the north, the Israeli government designated the establishment of a new medical school as a national priority initiative. Bar-Ilan University was chosen by the government to open the nation's fifth medical school – in the Galilee.

 

Israel’s President, Prime Minister and other government ministers, as well as the country’s higher-educational leadership, local authority heads, hospital administrators, and physicians, were present at the dedication of the BIU Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee. The excitement of the occasion was reflected in the large number of journalists from the Israeli press, radio and television who attended the event.

 

It was on this day that 124 students began their medical studies, including 54 Israelis returning to their homeland from foreign universities in Hungary, Italy, Romania and other countries, where they have already completed three years of pre-clinical study. Teachers and researchers include 15 gifted Israeli scientists who have come back to Israel from prestigious institutions abroad (e.g., Harvard, Yale and Stanford).

The school’s academic leadership, under the guidance of its Dean, Prof. Ran Tur- Kaspa, has developed a unique and innovative curriculum based on top-echelon Israeli and foreign medical schools, and in cooperation with leading American institutions such as Harvard Medical School, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, and others. The new curriculum will feature an integrative teaching approach, one that links core science and clinical studies while imparting to students an orientation toward health promotion and disease prevention. In accordance with this new approach, the BIU Faculty of Medicine will house research centers devoted to the study of disease processes; the activity at these centers will be informed by a translational-research approach, and will address population health and morbidity from a unique perspective. The Council for Higher Education’s expert panel had good reason to characterize the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee as pioneering and inventive.

 

Since opening its doors in 2011, The BIU Faculty of Medicine has stayed true to its original goals and successfully implemented many community outreach programs in an attempt to improve the medical care and lifestyle in the Galilee.

 

The Faculty has placed special emphasis on ambulatory medicine as a crucial means of upgrading the healthcare available to Galilee residents, and making it more accessible. 30% of students' time during the clinical study years is devoted to hands-on activity in community-based ambulatory clinics, which in turn fosters the development of academic medicine in the community, and promotes the development of research suited to this approach.

 

Alongside knowledge acquisition, grounding in medicine’s scientific underpinnings, and the development of clinical skills, the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine regards the personal character of its future graduates as a key component of the medical school experience. BIU medical students are trained to relate empathetically to patients and to interact with them and their families in a respectful manner; coursework in medical ethics and in halakhic approaches to medicine will play an important role in this regard. Physicians trained at the BIU medical school will adhere loyally to the Oath of the Hebrew Physician, which admonishes young physicians to “have the wisdom to understand the soul of the sick, to lift their spirits with perspicacity and love of man.”

 

Today the school consists of 145 staff members, including 78 clinical instructors and 67 senior staff members, 13 of whom are returning scientists. 3 additional staff members will be absorbed in 2014 along with 8 new researches in 2015-16. The school now has over 400 students enrolled, including MSc and PhD candidates in Medical Sciences.

 

The school has already had a tremendous impact on the local population. Projects like "Raphael" aims to promote healthy living and lifestyle while the "Teddy Bear Hospital" helps reduce anxiety in younger patients. It is in this way that the School of Medicine in the Galilee seeks to improve community life and overall health of the residents in the Galilee.

We at BIU, who planted the first seeds of academic education in the Galilee by establishing regional colleges in Israel's peripheries as far back as the early 1960s, are proud and elated to see our Zionist, social and national mission come to fruition with the success we have seen to date from the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee.