Partnership brings Wright State med students to Western Galilee Hospital

Medical exchange May 2010
By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer
May 2010

Western Galilee Hospital Dir. of Radiology Dr. Norman Loberant (Center) with Wright State medical students Nikunj Bhatt (L) and Linden Karas

Even as a first-year student at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Cleveland native Linden Karas dreamed of taking an elective in Israel during her fourth year.
Her dream came true in January and February when she and Nikunj Bhatt — another fourth-year Wright State medical student — participated in an externship at the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, Israel as part of the Partnership With Israel program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton.

“Wright State very much encourages global health experiences,” said Karas, an alumna of a Birthright Israel trip as an undergraduate at Amherst. That first trip to Israel, she says, changed her perspective on the Jewish state.

“Before it (Birthright), I wasn’t sure how I felt about Israel,” Karas said. “I had learned in the very liberal arts classes that I took positives and negatives. So when I went and I realized how wonderful it was, how culturally rich. Ever since Birthright, I had wanted to go back.”

Her focus during the externship was to see Israel’s government-sponsored health-care system.

“Israel has outstanding medicine,” she said.

She learned of the Partnership externship through Drs. Barbara and Richard Schuster, active participants in Wright State’s medical exchanges with WGH, who have since relocated to Georgia.

Bhatt, a native of Columbus who has also lived in India, said he was always interested in going to Israel.

“I’ve always been fascinated with this spirit of Israel,” he said.

Last summer, Karas recruited him to join her on the externship.

At the Western Galilee Hospital, Karas rotated through several specialties within pediatrics. Bhatt rotated through endocrinology, dermatology, pediatric nephrology and radiology.

“It’s an entirely different system than here, in general,” Bhatt said. “There was more time spent with the patient in Israel. Certainly, it’s a socialist system and there’s less worry about how we are going to pay for our health care, so we could focus more on the patient than the cost side.”

Karas said she was impressed that so much in the medical system is recycled in Israel.
“Everything was reusable there,” she said. “We waste so much paper and plastic in hospitals here.”

Bhatt and Karas receive the title of doctor at their medical school’s ceremony on May 28. From there, Karas will begin her residency in general surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. Bhatt, an ensign with the U.S. Navy, will head to the National Capital Consortium, the merged Walter Reed and National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. for an internal medicine residency.

In Israel, both saw disorders and diseases they will not often see in the United States.
“The population we were treating at times were the Druze community in the north,” Bhatt said. “And there’s a lot of in-marriages with them and with that, a lot of very interesting congenital diseases which I would probably never see or rarely see in the United States.”

Bhatt added that he didn’t expect to see Jews and Arabs getting along so well.

“I think we get an image here in the United States that there’s a Muslim-Jewish divide that you can’t put together,” Bhatt said. “All politics stopped at the door and we treated everyone the same and everyone felt comfortable. The patients felt very comfortable and the physicians were very diverse as well.”

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