From Lethbridge through Bossangoa to Beersheba
Canadian nurse, Brock Murray was in Bossangoa in the Central African Republic (CAR) when a chance encounter changed his life.
Equipped with a B.S. in Biology, Murray, from Lethbridge, Alberta, began his international adventures with a one-year trip to Australia, followed by 12 months in Taiwan. He then returned to Canada to take up training as a nurse – but his thirst for adventure hadn’t been quenched.
Working eventually in the ICU at Montreal Neurological Hospital, Brock couldn’t get the travel bug out of his system. After a while, he enrolled for a postgraduate course in tropical medicine at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium.
Returning to Canada, this time he took a position in the emergency department at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary which served a large immigrant and refugee population. There he began to appreciate the different cultures of the world and their complex health needs. The experience added to his burgeoning interest in Global Health.
Doctors Without Borders
Murray eventually fulfilled a life-long dream; he volunteered as an outreach nurse with Doctors Without Borders in the Central African Republic. It was there that he bumped into a Global Health physician by the name of Jonathan Drew.
“We got talking, and he told me he received his MD from a unique little medical school in Israel, called the Medical School for International Health. He spoke with such enthusiasm and I could see how dedicated he was to Global Health. His spirit and description of the school really piqued my interest.”
During his stint in CAR Murray was surprised by what he encountered. He’d expected exotic tropical diseases but was struck to discover that most of his patients suffered from common ailments like diabetes, headaches, backaches, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. The difference was, in the CAR, there was limited access to healthcare – or even electricity, running water, or medications.
Making it to Beersheba
“The seed planted by my encounter with Jonathan Drew began to germinate wildly in my head,” he explains. “On my return to Canada I took a position in the transplant and trauma centre at Vancouver General Hospital, but I couldn’t shake Jonathan’s words out of my head. I felt more and more pulled towards medical school and last year I touched base with Jonathan again. He encouraged me unreservedly to apply to MSIH.”
“And here I am in Beersheva, a first year student at MSIH, setting off on yet another challenging – and hopefully rewarding adventure.”
Brock joined the entering class of MSIH in July 2021, sharing a classroom with similar-minded people from all over the world.
“They’re very friendly and supportive,” Brock says. “It’s a small class where everyone knows everyone else – and the school seems to encourage collegiality. The fact that exams are pass/fail reduces competition and I’ve already noticed that fellow students share information and support one another more than my previous academic studies. We all seem to be vested in one another’s success, and it’s a good feeling.”
Asked about the difficulties of integration into a foreign culture, Brock explains he’s used to it from his international travels. “The biggest problem is the language, especially in the supermarket!”
“The Israeli population is very friendly and helpful too. They seem to think they’re impolite and brash, but everyone I meet has gone out of their way to help me. Even my neighbour gave me his phone charger when I was having trouble with my own.”
The Alumni Legacy
Brock Murray is a student in the 2025 class of MSIH. Over the next four years he’ll be sharing his life with his 35 classmates, learning in a unique school – that will eventually allow him to join hundreds of MSIH alumni who are making a huge contribution to Global Health. Who knows, perhaps one day, in a remote village in a far off land, he’ll encounter a bright young person at the outset of his/her career and tell them – like Jonathan Drew – of the little medical school that does great things.