Nurses Specialized in Trauma, Compassion While Saving Lives

Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine

Nurses are some of society's most precious resources, and the nurses at Hadassah Medical Organization are dedicated to taking care of traumatic injuries with a compassion and caring that puts them at the forefront of advanced medicine. Julie Benbenishty, an intensive care nurse at Hadassah who serves as the Trauma Nurse Coordinator at Hadassah Ein Kerem, is here to share her story about why she became a nurse, her career and being a volunteer for Nurses of the Middle East.

About this episode

Julie Benbenishty is an Intensive Care Nurse at Hadassah who serves as the Trauma Nurse Coordinator at Hadassah Ein Kerem. Her area of expertise includes Critical and Intensive Care Medicine, Trauma and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Benbenishty has been a nurse since 1978 when she received her Nursing Diploma at the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing. She also holds a Bachelor in Psychology from the University of Vermont where she graduated in the year 2000. In 2003, Julie became Chairman of the national organization for Evidenced Based Nursing in Intensive Care and she also teaches at the Hebrew University.

For more about Julie Benbenishty and the 100th Anniversary of the School of Nursing

Julie Benbenishty: Bridging the Geographical Divide in Nursing Care

Celebration 2018: 100 Years of Hadassah Nurses

May Is Hadassah Nurses Appreciation Month


Melanie Cole (Host): Nurses are some of society's most precious resources. Today we're speaking with Julie Benbenishty on this episode of Hadassah On Call. My guest is Julie Benbenishty. She's an intensive care nurse at Hadassah who serves as the Trauma Nurse Coordinator at Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, Israel. Julie, why did you become a nurse? As I said in my intro, nurses are some of society's most precious resources, and sometimes pretty under-appreciated.

Julie Benbenishty (Guest): I became a nurse after I made Aliyah to Israel, and I finished my high school here in Israel, and I wanted to learn a profession that for sure I can find a job wherever I go in the world, and so I went to nursing school at Hadassah. I was accepted at Hadassah and I went to nursing school, and that was my main motivation for becoming a nurse at that time.

Melanie: Do you feel as somebody who's been in the United States and in Israel, is there the same sort of stigma? Do you feel that that stigma is going away in nurses? Do they have that in Israel?

Julie: Yeah, you're right. Yeah, there is- it's not thought of as such a wonderful profession, and my parents were disappointed even that I wanted to become a nurse, and it's thought of it's we change diapers, but it's changed tremendously since I've become a nurse in the amount of decision making that we have to make, in the amount of teamwork that I have with my physicians. It's not like they're the boss and we follow. We really come together on all the patients that we take care of. And then I'm in the profession, I have a great sense of satisfaction, and I feel very good in my profession.

Melanie: Well I think it's nurses like you that help to change that scope and some of that stigma. Why did you choose the specialties? Tell us about your specialties.

Julie: Well I have a very high adrenaline level, so I know that I needed something that would challenge me mentally as well as challenge me physically. And I like to work, and I like to move my patients off the bed, and I like to see the change. I really need that immediate satisfaction. So I really like to see changes in my patients fast, and that's why I chose intensive care, and I worked in intensive care for about thirty years, and then I did my bachelor's degree, and my master's degree, married, three children, and still working all the time with Hadassah, and now I'm finishing my Doctorate's degree. And I needed- I always wanted something challenging, and sometimes even after I'm at work for ten hours running all over the hospital, or now it's five or six buildings, I'm running all over the place, and I teach in the nursing school, and I do clinical research, and I visit all my patients, and I find- I even have to come home and run for 10k before I can settle down in the evening. So for me it was the right profession for me mentally and physically. Yeah, I need a lot.

Melanie: Wow, sounds like it's so rewarding for you. Now you've spent most of your career at Hadassah Hospital. Why? What do you love about Hadassah?

Julie: Well I really didn't know that Hadassah really has this environment of such a family feeling until I went and visited other hospitals, and I saw the relationship between the nurses and the other staff members, whether it's doctors, or assistant nurses, or the families that they take care of, and at Hadassah it really is a feeling of family. And we have a fierce, fierce loyalty to Hadassah, and we really do consult with each other as nurses, as equals in care for the patient, and it doesn't matter who's a professor, who's a doctor, and who's a nurse, and who's the cleaning worker who says, "Hey you have to wash your hands. Don't forget to wash your hands before you go into the patient." So it is a family, we really feel close to each other. And the level of quality of care that we want to give our patients, we're always in competition with each other to give better care, and more up-to-date care, and more evidence-based care. So I feel it's a very good environment.

Melanie: Well you segued so beautifully into the next question. Tell us about evidence-based nursing, and using holistic health as important to you as a nurse. You mentioned getting those patients up, and getting immediate satisfaction, helping them as quickly as you can, and some of that is a holistic way to think.

Julie: Yeah, most definitely. When we saw that we had- we didn't have enough- for instance, we didn't have enough training in acute stress disorder, which means patients that were in a stress situation after trauma, my doctors along with the nurses went to get training in acute stress disorder. It wasn't that my trauma surgeons, and my ICU physicians didn't think that the emotional state of their patients was less important than any other organ in their body. So this to me also is a reflection of how my physicians feel, how our physicians feel about getting holistic care to our patients. So evidence-based nursing is every practice that I do, every care practice that I provide and deliver to my patients has to be formulated, has to be backed by some sort of science, and it can't be something that's intuitive, it has to be something that has been proven by science, by research as having any kind of good outcome to patients. For instance, we found that if we take a small child's toothbrush and brush the patient's teeth even when they're intubated with a tube, we were reducing the amount of ventilated associated pneumonia that our patients were getting as a result of the tube being in their mouth. So that has to be proven. I mean it sounds like a good idea, brushing a patient's teeth, well we had to prove that it changed any outcomes, that it had any impact on patient outcome.

Melanie: Wow, see that's keen observational skills, and that's being able to look at something and say, "This will make a difference." Now so tell us a little bit about how you train IDF medic trainers in treating injuries and honing those observational skills, like those you were just discussing.

Julie: Yeah, we have a very- I call it basic training where they really go through boot camp with me, the Army medics. The Army medics, not just the regular medics, but the medics who train medics, so they're already very experienced medics, come to me for a week of Hadassah training. And they come, the word go, I mean they can't keep up with me. They want to ask me all the time with their tongues out,because I give them so much work to do. But what I do give them is every day they get a scavenger hunt of things that they have to observe in the operating room, in the ICU, in the recovery room, and in the trauma unit of how our teams work. How do we keep our patients safe and secure? What kinds of measures do we do? We don't talk about it, we just do it because we know that we keep our patients safe and secure. So my main goal in training these medics is that they don't just think that they have to give in the field, 'Just get the patient to the hospital as quickly as possible.' No, even the first aid that they're giving in the field has to be the most optimal care possible, and it has to be continuing of care. So they're giving their first aid, but it has to flow continuously into the next stage of the patient's care in the hospital. So we try to close that gap between the pre-hospital and what happens in the hospital itself.

Melanie: I bet they do have trouble keeping up with you. Gosh, what energy you have. So now tell us a little bit, you work at the hospital, does your work at the hospital contribute to your work as a volunteer for nurses in the Middle East? Or vice versa? Are they working cohesively together for you?

Julie: Okay. I, as I became a very mature nurse, realized that our impact- nurses' impact has a lot to impact on society, and not just what we're doing in the hospital. And I found in addition when I became a trauma nurse, I found that 30% of my patients I was sending back to the Palestinian Authority, which does not have a developed health system as they do in Israel. So we were investing much time, energy, effort, everything, our heart and soul went into healing everybody at the hospital. Healing these patients, and then we were sending them back to a big black hole, we didn't know what was happening there. So what we did do was develop a network of nurses in the Palestinian Authority, and in Israel we worked together also to give continual care to our patients. So whenever my patient is being released home, I call a nurse that I know in that area, either it's in Hebron, or in Mala, or Jericho, or any other Palestinian city, and I will call a nurse and will say, "Look in on him, and see if all his needs are provided for him, and if not, let me know and I'll see what I can do to help him out." So this network is a network of nurses in the Middle East, so we work together.

Melanie: And you've written some books. What prompted you to write them? Tell us about them.

Julie: Well when we started having conflicts in the 1990's and I was a nurse in the ICU, we gained a lot of experience with working with disaster victims, terror victims, mass casualties, blast victims, that as yet there was not that much data on that except for war, what happens in war, and soldiers were not writing- medics were not writing how they were treating the patients in that war situation. So we started collecting data, started doing research, and I wrote a chapter in a book- a few chapters in 'The Book of Disaster Management for Nurses.' So that's one book, printed by Prentice Press out of New Jersey. Another book that I've written is on ethical challenges in the intensive care unit, because we face many challenges, and the ethics that we face day-to-day, whether it's resource scarcity, or braindead patients, or transplant patients, or how to give good end of life care to one who has succumbed to their disease also needs to be documented, and written down, and disseminated through as many people as possible. And my last book was experience of people going through a life-threatening experience as ICU, and what was it like for them surviving ICU.

Melanie: Wow, that's fascinating. And where can people find those books?

Julie: Well I think on Amazon, I think.

Melanie: Tell us the names.

Julie: I don't know about 'Disaster Management.' 'Disaster Management' I think is a textbook.

Melanie: That's so cool. So now I understand your organization is celebrating two milestones. An anniversary of this year, the 100th anniversary of Hadassah Medical Organization. Tell us about your involvement in that, and the 100th Anniversary of Henrietta Szold Hadassah Hebrew University School of Nursing. How are you involved in those?

Julie: Right. Well I know we're having- they're planning a big group of Hadassah people and Hadassah nurses coming to Hadassah, and I am on the board of organizing everything that's going to- all the celebrations that are going to happen when this group comes. So we're talking about what we want them to see, what we want them to hear, what we want these people who are coming on this tour to experience, and local celebrations that we're having at the school of nursing and in the hospital. So we're having celebrations all throughout the year.

Melanie: So Julie, wrap it up for us. What do you want people to know about nursing? About you? About Hadassah Medical Organization? Why you love it so much, but mostly about this passion that you have for taking care of people, and making sure that you follow through all the way to recovery.

Julie: I think the great amount of satisfaction that we receive from our job, I mean that really is why we get up every morning and go to work, is the amount of satisfaction that we have when patients and their families say, "Thank you so much. I know that if it wasn't for you, my father, my mother, my child would not survive." I think there's nothing- I mean that's the meaning. That's the significance of why I'm here and what I'm doing when I'm doing it, is it's a very good feeling that we have. And if it happens to me once a week even that someone says something like that, I mean I know why I did what I did, and why I chose what I chose, and where I am is where I should be.

Melanie: Wow, you've given me chills. Certainly what energy, and passion, and dedication you have as a nurse. You're a precious commodity, Julie, you are. And you do the work of angels. Nurses - and I don't think people really realize this - nurses are the life blood of the medical community. Thank you so very much for being on with us today and telling us your story. This is Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine, brought to you by Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. The largest Jewish women's organization in America, Hadassah enhances the health of people worldwide through medical education, care, and research innovations at the Hadassah Medical Organization. For more information on the latest advances in medicine, please visit, and to hear more episodes in this podcast series, please visit That's This is Melanie Cole, thank you so much for tuning in.

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