MSIH alumnus explains how hands-on experience gained at MSIH gave him an advantage during residency


“Medical training and hands-on experience are unlike that of US students. At MSIH there are more opportunities to get involved. As a student I remember placing central lines and performing intubations. In my first few weeks of residency, several times I had to show the US graduates how to place an IV.”

Dr. Hanan Atia graduated MSIH in 2014 and went on to do a residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Connecticut. Completing it mid-June 2017, he moved to a large trauma center in Southern Florida where he’s now Attending in the Emergency Room.

Hanan visited MSIH at the end of November to proffer advice to current students.

Is it for you?

“Not everyone is suited to EM work,” he explained. “It takes a particular personality type. You need to enjoy the pace and variety of work. You don’t have a patient and stick with them until they recover. Your job is to diagnose, stabilize, then assign to the right place.”

Hanan explained that he sees patients from all walks of life.

The Emergency Medicine Team

“I don’t worry about insurance, billing, and hospital bureaucracy – all I need to know is how to look after patients. If you’re not comfortable with not knowing what’s happening, then EM is not for you. You need to be a multi-tasker as you’re interrupted every few minutes. Emergency Rooms are high-paced environments and people are generally stressed and highly strung. On the other hand, we’re all working together to save lives and we operate as well-oiled teams. Hierarchies disappear in the EM; I’m lost without my nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and paramedics. The atmosphere of cooperation is almost tangible.”

Quizzed by students about “the positive side”, Hanan went on to explain.

“You can’t see critically ill patients and death every day without being affected by it. So EM staff tend to work shorter hours and can take more time off. When you’re not at work, you have no pager and you’re not on call – which means your days off are yours.”

Israel v US

Describing the difference between Emergency Medicine in Israel and the US, Dr. Atia explained that in Israel, most medical centers are larger and often specialists are in-house. In many smaller US hospitals, specialists may not be available until the next day. This allows the ER physician to perform many emergent procedures and treat a variety of specialties.

“But what makes the biggest difference to you as medical students is the hands-on experience you get in Israel. There’s probably less fear of legal action and as a student I remember placing central lines and performing intubations – under supervision, of course. In my first few weeks of residency, I had to show quite a few US residents how to insert and IV.”

“Of course, there’s also the cultural diversity of Israel,” he continues. “At MSIH I met hundreds of people from many countries and learned to deal with cultural sensitivities. That exposure helped to set me up for real-life situations in the US.”

Hanan is registered for the “Emergency Volunteers Project” and is flown out to disaster areas when needed. He also participated during his residency in a Trauma Surgical Deployment Drill with the International Medical Corps.