Report: Ben Gurion University medical school grads most socially involved

Research in Harefuah, the journal of the Israel Medical Association, says BGU students more concerned with closing social gaps.

March 19, 2014 17:01
2 minute read.
Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.

Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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Graduates of which of the five Israeli medical schools have climbed down from their ivory tower and showed the most social involvement in the community? Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is the answer, according to an article just published in Research in Harefuah finds: BGU medical school grads much more socially involved in closing the social gap; public discussion of research vs. social involvement must be discussed , and in Medical Teacher, an international journal of educational in the health sciences.

When BGU’s medical school was established by Dr. Moshe Prywes, involvement in the health of the community was a key theme, and all medical students were required to be involved in the health of the local population -- from Beduin to new immigrants and veteran residents.

Half of graduates of BGU’s medical school and of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, according to the study, work today or worked in the past in the periphery, compared to fewer than a third of Hebrew University Medical School and Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Medical School. Bar-Ilan University’s Galilee Medical School in Safed, which has not not yet produced graduates, is too young to be included.

Of the 1,050 doctors who graduated from Israeli medical schools and participated in the study, 36% graduated from HU, 26% from TAU, 22% from the Technion and 16% from BGU. According to the findings, BGU graduates think more than graduates of other schools that doctors have an obligation to reduce the gaps -- between the well-off and the poor, Jews and Arabs, newcomers and veterans, men and women -- in health services.

According to the study, half of all physicians who graduated from BGU’s Health Science Faculty are active in social programs beneficial to their community, compared to 34 percent to 38% of graduates from the other medical schools. About a third of BGU physician graduates believe that the medical education their received on their Beersheba campus had a major influence on their involvement in social programs, compared to only 8% to 15% among graduates of other medical schools.

Graduates of HU in Jerusalem said that the role of the physician was more to conduct research than to be involved in the community, while BGU graduates said their school’s social orientation clearly influenced their social involvement as doctors.

Social gaps in Israel, including its healthcare system despite its universal health insurance system, are among the widest in the OECD countries.

The authors concluded that if the society wanted doctors to reduce the gaps, they should be taught its importance in medical school.

The authors of the research noted that in recent years, all five medical faculties have added courses on social medicine, but actual participation in programs in Beersheba have boosted the social awareness of the gaps in society. They concluded that it while it was important for medical students to be involved in research, what is the proper dose of both social involvement and research will have to be determined by a serious public discussion.”

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