Expanding Knowledge Through the Rabin Medical Exchange Fellowship

Ruti’s mentor here in the U.S.A. at the Boston Eye Group was Dr. Samir Melki.
As Ruti reflects, “Dr. Samir was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and immigrated to the U.S. during the eighties. He was accepted as a clinical fellow at the MEEI and later an attending at the hospital, is a great success story and an inspiration for me. Dr. Melki is eager to teach, open minded and very dedicated and committed to his patients-- I find him a role model."

"Dr. Samir Melki, is one of the leading cornea specialists and refractive surgeons in the world and his practice at the Boston eye group, which includes the Mass Eye and Ear Institute (MEEI), is one of the top five eye hospitals in the US. This gave me the opportunity to watch and learn how things are done to perfection, in a very well funded environment, enabling its ophthalmologists to offer the patients the perfect package to suit their needs. I saw what state of the art ophthalmology should look like, and believe I gained a much more comprehensive understanding in the field of intraocular lens calculations and in the field of refractive cataract as a whole.”

International medical relationships and fellowship programs, such as the AFRMC Rabin Medical Exchange Fellowships, are necessary to the future of medicine and research. I believe exchanging ideas and working in a multicultural environment are two crucial assets to the health of every organization. During my observership at the Boston Eye Group I learned so much, but at the same time was also able to share thoughts and ideas of my own that led to further thinking and discussions. Research evolves from one idea being elaborated on by colleagues. People from different educational backgrounds and social environments tend to think differently, and work a bit differently, and learning in an environment of diversity is what advances science forward in any field….I enjoyed the opportunity to assimilate in a different yet similar environment, and to meet new colleagues and change opinions with them. Simply having the chance to discuss cases with them, and compare our methods and techniques to theirs, was indeed very enriching, fertilizing and inspiring.”

This exceptional opportunity given to me by AFRMC, had enabled me to work with the best ophthalmologists in the world at my field of interest, and to enrich my knowledge by learning from them. The connections and networking thus achieved, may be priceless for the Rabin Medical Center and myself in the future, and can open many doors for professional improvement and consultation as needed. Working at the very peak of the academic world, even for a short while, is an incredible and inspiring experience.”

I not only feel more experienced and much more knowledgeable in my field but I also feel, more proud of our hospital, Rabin Medical Center, which with limited resources, is still able to provide patients with state of the art medical care, that in many aspects is not inferior to what the best eye hospital in the world has to offer. I believe this is a great success of the RMC, and feel more proud to be a part of this hospital.”

It is a great challenge in Israel to offer a patient a whole refractive solution, while in the private system in America it is much easier. But, I believe cataract surgery, the most common surgery in the modern world today, is expected by many to also fulfill a refractive goal, by minimizing the use of glasses after surgery. As patients set higher expectations, it is a great challenge to offer them acceptable results with sometimes limited resources or non-available procedures / lens types. In developing countries the challenge is of course much higher, and the needs are more basic; Lack of equipment and experienced modern surgeons still allow for young people to lose their vision due to cataract in the 21st century.”

The Ophthalmology department at the RMC is one of the leading departments in the country. In the field of refractive cataract, however, there is much place for growth to put us at the forefront. As a senior resident at the Rabin Medical Center, upon fulfilling my program's requirements I plan to pursue a clinical and research fellowship in the field of anterior segment, cataract, cornea and refractive surgery, in the U.S., for 1-2 years. Upon coming back to Israel, I aspire to become a leading cataract surgeon at Rabin Medical Center, to lead the cataract unit at our institute, bringing along new techniques and expertise and deepen the research in this field further, to enable us become the best department in this field in the public system in Israel.”

Politics, always stay out of the game, and we treat every patient in a similar manner, giving him/her the best possible medical and surgical care, with no discrimination whatsoever. In my eyes all patients are equal and deserve the best possible care, whether they are Jewish, Muslims or Christians, Palestinians, Israelis or tourists. Sometimes there may be a language barrier, however I speak enough Arabic in a way that enables me to communicate with those (few) who are not fluent in Hebrew. In our staff we have three Israeli Arab ophthalmologists, and two Israeli Arab nurses, and the one thing I love best regarding working in a hospital in Israel, is this feeling that in the hospital everybody is equal, and the place serves as a true bridge to peace and co-existence…I feel there are many Israeli Arabs that are closer to my cultural and educational characteristics than many of their Jewish counterparts.”

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