From the Clinic to the Community: Outreach Programs at the School of Medicine

Using a real stethoscope to monitor a stuffed animal’s heartbeat is pure fun for any child. But last year’s “Teddy Bear Hospital” – held at The Azrieli School of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University in the Galilee – is part of a serious mission: to integrate medical education with outreach to community members of all ages. “The idea was to help young children overcome their fear of doctors,” explains Prof. Andrew Luder, Vice Dean of the Medical School’s four-year program. “Our mission is to be accountable to society, reaching out to children, the elderly, or anyone in between.”

 

The Medical School clinical curriculum requires first year students to conduct a study within a health-related community institution. Under the supervision of faculty mentors, students evaluate the institution’s structure, its needs, and its effectiveness, and – at a special end of- year program open to the entire faculty – present suggestions for improvement. Another program is the Chronic Pain Project, in which each student “adopts” a patient suffering from a chronic condition such as diabetes or osteoarthritis. Visiting patients in their homes and accompanying them on doctor visits and hospitalizations, students gain empathy and interpersonal skills that will serve them well with future patients.

 

The Medical School also presents health-related “open days” and lectures, including a explanation of the government’s campaign to vaccinate the public against a recent outbreak of polio.

 

According to Luder, this model community outreach is innovative in Israel. “Just like our emphasis on translational research, our goal is to have a positive impact on the community,” he says. “This means being in touch, on all levels.”