Students of the Class of 2023 begin their journey to become Global Health Physicians


In its 21 years of existence, MSIH has always prided itself in the diversity of students it attracts. The entering class of 2023 is no exception. Commencing their orientation last week, (July, 2019), the class is as varied as previous years.

Mostly North Americans and returning Israelis, other students hail from China, Moldova, Slovakia, France, India, South Africa, and Hong Kong. Many have degrees in biology, but there’s a graduate of English literature, a dentist, a chemist, a mathematician/musician, a biochemist, cell biologist, business manager, physiologist, neuroscientist, kinesiologist, and a computer engineer.

Starting Out on their Journey: Emergency Medicine

During their first few weeks in Beer Sheva, before they begin their formal medical education, students spend their time learning Hebrew, some preparatory studies, and a course in Emergency Medicine – where they’re taught the skills of a paramedic. This course, taught mostly by Israeli medical students, (many of whom were paramedics during military service), is mostly practical. Among many other things, students are taught how to revive a patient in an emergency. They also learn how to extract a patient properly from a damaged vehicle, how to position a patient in an emergency situation, and how to report the patient’s condition to qualified medical personnel when they arrive.

“It’s an excellent way to introduce the students to life as a medical student,” explains school director, Professor Alan Jotkowitz. “They don’t yet have much medical knowledge but giving them paramedic training whets their appetite for what’s to come.”

In the extreme daytime heat of the Negev Desert, the new students can be seen groping around the inside of a sweltering vehicle, trying to maneuver an “injured person” onto a gurney. They struggle with the heat, the confined space, the newness of the experience and their unfamiliar classmates – all while learning to work as a team.

“Their enthusiasm for Global Health was evident even before they arrived in Israel,” explains Mike Diamond, head of the Global Health curriculum. “About a month before they arrived we emailed them asking who would like to participate in our Biomedical Engineering for Low-Income settings program. The response was amazing. Added to that, others wanted to make presentations to their class of their Global Health experience prior to coming to MSIH. Even before they arrived, we were off to a running start.”