'Changes needed to make internal medicine more attractive'

Sheba doctors call for improved working conditions, more “prestigious,” service in internal medicine departments.

sheba intensive care (photo credit: Channel 10)
sheba intensive care
(photo credit: Channel 10)
This week starting on Sunday, doctors, nurses and administrative and logistical workers at Sheba Medical Center are spending their time off working in the Tel Hashomer state hospital’s overcrowded and overwhelmed internal medicine departments.
Last week, the directors of the departments and executive Dr. Ari Shamis at the country’s largest hospital told the Health Ministry that they could no longer cope, as Sheba had reached “a red line.”
They asked that Magen David Adom ambulance drivers take urgent patients who need internal medicine department care to other medical centers in the region. The departments have in recent weeks been receiving twice as many patients as before. The situation is serious in other public hospitals, but it seems it is even worse at Sheba.
Very few young physicians go into internal medicine, which usually involves patients with multiple chronic diseases and elderly patients, said Prof. Yossi Mekori, head of one of Sheba’s internal medicine departments and dean of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Medical Faculty. The shortage of specialists and the burden of work on those who work in the departments discourage medical interns and residents from going into the specialty.
To identify with and support the overworked internal medicine department staffers, Sheba staffers from other departments decided to join them after their working hours this week to help out. They will assist in admissions of patients, inserting infusions, taking blood and all medical activities. Nurses will even provide regular staffers with good food and hot drinks through the night.
Sheba management said that if working conditions were improved, servicein internal medicine departments became more “prestigious,” andadditional opportunities for research were provided, more young doctorswould join. Another major problem in attracting them is that optionsfor private medical services as consultants outside public hospitalsare negligible in the field.
Sheba director-general Prof. Ze’evRothstein said the hospital does not have a deficit, but it needsflexibility in budgets and manpower slots as in non-governmenthospitals to boost the attractiveness of service in internal medicinedepartments.