Dr. Alon Zahavi is an opthamaologist from Israel’s Rabin Medical Center who specializes in glaucoma. Following his residency at Rabin Medical Center, Dr. Zahavi served for five years as an army physician in the Israel Defense Forces. He is also a clinical instructor at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.
American Friends of Rabin Medical Center sponsored Dr. Zahavi for a two-week observership with the Glaucoma Unit at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Zahavi was under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Liebmann, Columbia University Medical Center's Glaucoma Service Director and its Vice-Chair for the Department of Ophthalmology.
QUESTION: What is your area of focus and why did you choose this?
Dr. Zahavi: I am an ophthalmologist, specializing in glaucoma. I find this specialty particularly interesting and rewarding, as I can utilize advanced medical and surgical procedures to treat an otherwise irreversibly blinding ocular condition. Advancements in recent years has greatly expanded treatment options, benefiting patients worldwide. As a result, glaucoma specialists must keep up-to-date with the latest developments to offer patients the best possible medical care.
I believe fellowships and observerships in other first-rate medical centers provide invaluable hands-on experience, which is essential to keep Rabin Medical Center a leading hospital in Israel and worldwide.
QUESTION: Please provide an overview of your fellowship at your hospital in the US and the role you played during your stay.
Dr. Zahavi: I completed a two-week observership at Columbia University Medical Center, NYC. During the observership, I joined world renowned glaucoma experts in clinics and operating rooms. We discussed complex glaucoma cases, medical and surgical managements of such cases, and past and ongoing research projects for glaucoma diagnosis and treatment.
QUESTION: What do you feel are the key issues and challenges in your field – not only in the Unites States and Israel, but worldwide?
Dr. Zahavi: I believe the key challenge in glaucoma care is related to neuroregeneration – healing a damaged optic nerve and reversing the damage caused by glaucoma, as opposed to current clinical practice, which is aimed solely at delaying progression of the disease.
QUESTION: What did you enjoy most about your fellowship opportunity in the United States hospital?
Dr. Zahavi: I most enjoyed the patient-doctor relationships that I witnessed at Columbia. Most patients had a long lasting relationship with their treating physicians, which I found to be a significant part of my experience in the United States.
QUESTION: Would you recommend this fellowship to your peers? Why or why not?
Dr. Zahavi: I would gladly recommend this observership to my peers. I am positive this experience broadened my knowledge in the field of glaucoma, and it will enable me to better treat patients in the future. Additionally, the relationships created [by the Rabin Medical Exchange Fellowship] with international medical professionals will hopefully lead to future dissemination of knowledge and shared research projects.