Technion University, Haifa (Israel)


Impressions of Technion

  • Stephanie Anderson - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with Technische Universität Dresden in 2012–13
  • Cathy Ngo - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an elective at Technion University in 2009-10
  • Justin Garber - medical student fro Sydney Medical School undertook his elective with Technion University in 2008-9

Stephanie Anderson - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with Technische Universität Dresden in 2012–13

I undertook an eight week elective at the Carl Gustav Carus Universitätsklinikum Dresden, Germany from January to March 2013. I spent four weeks in Viszeral-, Gefäß- und Thoraxchirurgie (Visceral, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery), two weeks in Neurochirgurie (Neurosurgery) and two weeks in Neuroradiologie (Neuroradiology).

VTG is a large department with five different wards. Ward rounds begin at 6:45am following which all wards convene at 7:30am for the morning radiology conference and case discussion. There are five theatres active daily. Each day you are rostered to assist with multiple surgeries and it is very hands-on. I was able to stitch and close many times. I would definitely recommend this rotation for people interested in pursuing surgery. Due to the size of the department, there are multiple German and international students on practical placements, so it also has a great social aspect.

Neurosurgery followed the same time-plan with ward rounds and radiology conferences. Unfortunately, ‘scrubbing-in’ was not often possible however; there were many other ways to be involved.

Neuroradiology was excellent. Most of my time was spent in the angiography suite observing the diagnosis and treatment patients with vascular malformations such as aneurysms. We also had acute stroke patients present from ED requiring emergency thrombectomy.

In all of the above departments, the doctors were very keen teachers and encouraged a lot of questions. Most of the doctors were able to speak very good English; however an attempt to converse in German was appreciated especially with nursing staff and patients. As a result of the East/ West German divide, many of the older patients had to learn Russian and so have very limited English skills. I found ward rounds incredibly difficult and my ability to help on the ward was definitely limited by my language skills so most of my time was spent in theatre. I learnt HSC German and revised before leaving. I would definitely recommend a similar background in German as a minimum in order to get the most out of the experience.

The international student contact at the University is great and really made sure everything was taken care of for me including options for accommodation and student discounts on travel etc. Dresden is a fantastic place to live. The Elbe River divides the city into the new and old towns. There are a lot of historical museums, churches and palaces to explore as well as great places to go out. Dresden is also only an hour and a half train trip from both Berlin and Prague, so both are very accessible for weekend trips.

Cathy Ngo - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an elective at Technion University in 2009-10

"I did a 4-week haematology placement in Rambam hospital, the largest tertiary hospital in the northern region of Israel. The haematology unit is made up of a bone marrow transplant unit, an inpatient unit and an outpatient unit. The doctors were all very welcoming and my supervisor was very organised and did a good job of ensuring I learnt as much as I could while I was there. The staff were also very patient with me as they happily translated much of what was happening into English for me. I was present for ward rounds, lectures, procedures and spent time in the outpatient unit amongst other things in the haematology department. I spent time in the Haematology laboratory, where the laboratory technicians were very keen on teaching. I also had a private tuition with the manager running the blood bank for a whole afternoon. I spent time in nuclear medicine too where I learnt about PET scans- Rambam hospital is very well equipped with this technology. Two of the key things I gained from my placement professionally were seeing the dedication some of the doctors had towards their patients and seeing the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians work together and treat their patients the same regardless of their race.

Spending a total of 6 weeks in Israel, I experienced some of its culture. I met many people in the hospital and as I travelled around Israel, including Bedouin people, Druze people, Jewish Israelis and Palestinians- Israel is very diverse in cultures. It is also a significant place to some of the largest religions in the world today. I experienced this in my daily living. My roommate happened to be a follower of Islam and the other 2 girls who shared the bathroom and kitchen with us were both Jewish. Another girl who also lived in the same accommodation complex is a follower of the Bahai faith. Everyone got along well. Because we shared a kitchen, I was careful to remember religious rules around food. Also, I celebrated Purim while I was there, which is one of the Jewish festivals. I visited synagogues, mosques and churches as well as the old city in Jerusalem which is rich in culture, religion and history. It was a very interesting experience to be in such a culturally and religiously diverse country!

Also, as one would expect, there was a high level of security throughout the country which was another interesting experience in itself. It was not uncommon to see soldiers throughout the country; and I became accustomed to being questioned and going through security checks before entering buildings and train stations. Despite this, while I was there, I didn’t have many concerns regarding security as I did not travel to the more risky regions such as regions next to the Gaza strip and I felt safe to walk around on my own."

Justin Garber – medical student fro Sydney Medical School undertook his elective with Technion University in 2008-9

"My placement in Israel was a very rewarding experience which gave me a perspective of global medicine. It opened my eyes to opportunities in clinical and research medicine that exist outside of Australia. Living and studying in a foreign country, essentially by myself, also gave me the confidence to travel further with my medical degree which will hopefully add to my perspective of medicine and help me to become a better doctor.

My placement in infectious diseases was extremely worthwhile because I was welcomed into the team and given responsibility to produce work. The Technion has a very high quality of medical practice and education which enabled me to learn a lot about a specialty I am interested in and was lacking experience in.

The key cultural lesson I learnt during my time in Israel was probably ‘multiculturalism’. Haifa, boasts a very diverse population that in turn reflects the patients and doctors I worked with. It was not uncommon to move between four languages on the morning ward round (or even in one consultation!) from Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and finally English. The doctors taught me a lot about differing cultural norms and management of these under the one health care system.

My time in Israel was marred by military conflict and unfortunately at these times public sentiment towards cultural differences can become strained. However I was greatly impressed by the doctors who refused to let anything hinder their delivery of respectful and quality health care, highlighting the cultural bridge that medicine can provide."