HU-Hadassah launches military medical school

IDF gives tender to Jerusalem despite threats by BGU to complain to the comptroller and file a lawsuit.

barakat hu-hadassah hospital 248.88 (photo credit: Judy Siegel)
barakat hu-hadassah hospital 248.88
(photo credit: Judy Siegel)
After an often-bitter struggle against the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School to establish the country's only military medical school and despite threats to complain to the state comptroller and file a lawsuit, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has accepted the results of the Defense Ministry tender that recently chose the Jerusalem faculty to hold the program, The Jerusalem Post learned on Tuesday. The first class of 50 will begin studies in October, with Prof. Shmuel Shapira as dean. Some 230 young people have already applied to study at the school, which will offer a regular medical curriculum plus courses and activities vital to producing the best military physicians and officers for future battlefields and clinics, as well as civilian doctors after IDF service. Although the idea of a military track for medical schools was first raised by the late Prof. Shraga Segal of BGU's health sciences faculty, the university in Beersheba was not the one selected by the ministry's tender board a few weeks ago. On Tuesday evening, at the Ein Kerem campus of the Jerusalem medical school, the military medicine track was officially opened. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who assisted HU and the Hadassah Medical Organization in campaigning for their medical school's selection, said he backed the program, as such an institution was part of his strategy for promoting the capital as a national and world center of medicine, life sciences, tourism and culture. Barkat said that when he suffered a bullet wound in an IDF incursion into Lebanon years ago, he had "understood how important it was for military doctors on the battlefield to be excellently trained." During the municipal campaign for winning the tender, that event had stood out in his mind, he said. HU president Prof. Menachem Megidor, who is retiring from his post in two weeks, said it was natural and proper that his university should be chosen as the home base for the military medicine school and that all involved would be proud of its graduates. Brig.-Gen. Nahman Ash, the IDF's chief medical officer, said the tender had been held objectively and had chosen the medical education institution that would best serve the needs of the IDF and the students. "The Medical Corps gives excellent service, but now we will have a stronger academic base. BGU originally proposed the idea and competed with valor," he said, but HU won. HU medical faculty dean Prof. Ehud Razin, who will soon complete his four-year term in office, added that the Ein Kerem medical campus excelled because it offered world-class facilities in many fields relevant to the IDF, such as treating trauma, and that Hadassah-University Medical Center there had an outstanding tertiary trauma center established and headed by Prof. Avi Rivkind. The opening of the new track was a "historic event," said Hadassah Medical Organization director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, adding that in making the bid, "we took financial risks" - even though as the winner of the tender, the medical faculty will receive funding from the IDF for its services. The treasurer of the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America, Marci Natan, who came to Israel especially for the ceremony, said Hadassah had launched medical education in the Land of Israel with its nursing school, followed by the medical school. Now, she said, it will be part of one of the world's few military medical schools.