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What's Happening at Hadassah

Diary of A Director General
By Dr. Yuval Weiss
Acting Director General, Hadassah Medical Organization

It is my privilege and pleasure to continue the tradition of HMO Directors General and periodically share with you some of the interesting and exciting events that take place every day here at HMO.

A few weeks ago, during our monthly Birthday Breakfasts with our interns, I became aware of a significant generation gap – not a chronological one as much as an experiential one. I realized how much attitudes have changed since I began my own internship some 23 years ago – how they have changed even in the 5 years since I was appointed Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem. This is true for the interns and for management, I believe.

Unlike the United States where hospitals choose interns, in Israel, medical school graduates are the ones that do the choosing – and just a few years ago, Hadassah was mid-way on their list. We have always been perceived as a good Medical Center but aloof – distant and unfriendly. And young people do not consider Jerusalem an attractive place to live. Along with the high cost of housing, Jerusalem was perceived – and still is – one of the most politically and socially complex cities in Israel.

We were forced to confront these challenges head on and recently made some significant changes in our internship program – and this year Hadassah was a popular choice. Word is spreading fast and in one year we rose in the eyes of the incoming interns from #10 to #6. While we couldn't change the fact that we're located in Jerusalem, the young doctors were well aware of the concerted effort we have made to provide them with greater opportunities. Our physician's assistance program, for example, gives them greater responsibility and active participation in patient care, increasing their ability to learn by doing and to develop closer working relationships, more naturally, with the medical staff involved.

At the monthly Birthday Breakfasts, I see how different today's young doctors are from those of my generation. They don't hesitate to ask questions, offer ideas and challenge conventional wisdom – and they expect direct answers to the issues they raise. Last month, they asked how HMO came to be in this difficult – and much publicized – financial situation. I told them what had transpired over the years and how we were dealing with the problems. Then someone asked about the changes we have made in the residents program and then another person wanted to know how I envisioned the future of medicine. Obviously the practical questions are easier to answer, but the complex philosophical ones remain with us long after the breakfast dishes have been cleared.

These young interns are an inspiration to all of us who preceded them. As they put in many, many long hours and sacrifice their home life to complete their training, they remind us that medicine is not a job; it is a way of life. When I look at the medical residents, the "generation gap" is even more evident. This generation is more independent and technology oriented. They understand that management is still "the boss," but the distance and the formality are far less than it was when I completed my first and second residencies at Hadassah. Among the things I remember about those times in my life, was the elation of being accepted to medical school—and that when I finally completed all my studies and passed all my exams, there was no official recognition, no celebration. The day I finished, that was it.

A few weeks ago, another HMO first took place – the first ever official ceremony for graduating medical residents. After seven years of medical school and five to six years of training, we wanted our residents to know we appreciated them and their efforts, and we wanted them to have a chance to stop for once and to rejoice in their accomplishments with their peers, families and friends. It was a wonderful evening, full of festivities, good food and a lovely concert. Dr. Meir Mizrahi, Chairman of Residents Union, spoke on their behalf and was recognized for his leadership role during the nationwide strike of interns and residents a few years ago.

These changes, these generation gaps are truly welcome. They constantly challenge us to revisit previous concepts, revise and renew them. Most of all they impel us to improve ourselves as individuals and as members of HMO management – ensuring that, like our interns and residents, we continue to practice outstanding medicine, with empathy and understanding, in an atmosphere of mutual confidence and trust.

Wishing you a wonderful Pesach,

Dr. Yuval Weiss, MD, MPH
Acting Director General & Director, Hadassah Medical Center, Ein Kerem | Hadassah Medical Organization

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