An Unforgettable Learning Experience: Dr. Orly Gal Or
1. Please provide an overview of your fellowship at your hospital and the role you played during your stay.
I spent a month doing observership and training under the guidance of Dr. Lawrence Vannuzzi at Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York (VRMNY) clinic. VRMNY is considered one of the top international ophthalmological retinal imaging centers and it houses the most respected physicians and researchers in the sub-field of retina and imaging. During my fellowship, I took part in morning rounds and had the opportunity to participate in presentation and discussion of challenging cases. Additionally, I was able to be a full and active participant in the assessment, examination, diagnosis and treatment of patients. I was treated as part of the staff. I was also very fortunate to be included in the research projects that were focused on the most advanced imaging modalities available in the clinic. I even had the opportunity to write an article and submit it to one of the leading academic ophthalmic journals for publication. It’s been really great!
2. Describe how your fellowship opportunity has expanded your knowledge in your specific field.
VRMNY is the cutting edge and innovative center for the treatment of retinal diseases, imaging and research. I was exposed to, among other things, new imaging modalities of the retinal vasculature performed in non-invasive method which enables the visualization of pathological vessels that might require treatment. Such treatment is not yet available in Israel. It’s an indescribable experience to be present and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the greatest experts in the field of your fascination and interest. It has had an immediate and multi-layered impact on me and on my approach and methods as a physician. Another extremely important part of my fellowship is how I was exposed to most difficult and unique live cases, which were referred to VRMNY by other retinal specialties around the world.
3. What did you enjoy most about your fellowship opportunity?
VRMNY constitutes the perfect combination of professionalism and interpersonal relationship between the medical staff and the patients. Besides from being experts in their fields, VRMNY is great because the team connected on a personal level. The staff made me feel as though I were a permanent and integral part of VRMNY even though I was a foreigner and only there for a short time. From the first day of my arrival, I was involved professionally and got great “pearls” of the medical profession. This gave me the opportunity to learn what perfect medical care really is!
4. Do you feel international medical relationships and fellowship programs are vital to the future of medicine and research?
Research is the future of medicine as a whole, especially in a challenging field such as ophthalmology and retina treatment. The ability to image structures with improved resolution with the most advanced technologies enables us an open gate to the future research of various diseases pathology. The exchange of ideas in international academic meetings and fellowship programs is very important in the advancement of medicine and research.
5. Explain the major differences between the Israeli health care system and the United States private healthcare systems in terms of your specific field.
The Israeli health care system is financed by taxpayers, providing the patient with emergency and basic care and a variety of services. In the sub-field of medical retina, a significant amount of patients receive care for age related macular degeneration (wet type AMD) by intraocular injections. In Israel, only part of the available treatment are sponsored by the government. On the other hand, health care is operated by private sector organization; thus it is more advanced. The US health system sets high standards in patient care. As for the sub-field of medical retina, a significant amount of patients in Israel receive care for age related macular degeneration (wet type AMD) by intraocular injections. However, in the United States the most advanced intraocular injections are available for treatment without any further approval procedures.
6. What do you feel are the key issues and challenges in your field – not only in the Unites States and Israel, but worldwide?
In recent years there is a revolution in the ophthalmologic care since the introduction of anti –VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) injections for intraocular use. One of the main challenges is individualizing the optimal regimen too achieve the best visual outcome for the patient from the available treatment options and guidelines.
7. What are your future plans at Rabin Medical Center when you return to Israel?
The Ophthalmology department in RMC serves a role of great importance in the medical, surgical care and research field. Our department also serves as a supreme authority where patients with the most difficult and unique cases are addressed for care. I am hopeful to establish a center of retinal imaging within RMC. With such a center, we will be able to contribute to its important and extremely valuable medical care service. Among other advantages and benefits, the most important is that the imaging modalities this center will enable diagnosis and treatments with much greater accuracy and efficiency.
8. Would you recommend this fellowship to your peers? Why or why not?
I would absolutely recommend this fellowship to my colleagues. This unique opportunity given to me by the AFRMC during my residency, has allowed me to learning from first class world renowned specialists. Though my fellowship only lasted for a one month period, it greatly contributed to my medical knowledge and to my ability to analyze and diagnose challenging cases. Furthermore, this is a great opportunity for the US healthcare system. Specialists and coordinators are very important for those like myself who want to pursue a longer fellowship program in the US in the future.