Stories From the Hearts of Women at the Helm in Hadassah’s Hospitals

March 11, 2022

Stories From the Hearts of Women at the Helm in Hadassah’s Hospitals

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Dr. Shadan Salameh-Youssef, director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, and Dr. Liat Appelbaum, director of the Diagnostic and Invasive Ultrasound Institute at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, shared on the hospitals’ Facebook page their stories and perspectives as women leaders performing multiple roles. Here are excerpts from their postings:

Dr. Shadan Salameh-Youssef writes,

At the age of 10, I decided that I was going to be a doctor. My grandfather was very sick, and it was I who picked up the phone to call the Magen David Adom ambulance. In broken Hebrew, I said, “Grandpa has acute pulmonary edema.”

All the years since then my focus has been on becoming and being a doctor.

Believing in God and knowing that he is always there for me gives me the strength with which I defeat any obstacles. I excelled in my studies and was accepted to the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University. I completed my first residency in internal medicine and, later, a second in emergency medicine. I chose a very interesting field of truly saving lives.

I really like my profession. I think emergency medicine is one of the most significant medical specialties that will, in the future, save medicine from the shortage of doctors. Emergency medicine specialists benefit the patient because one doctor is able to deal with a variety of emergencies and to call another specialist only when necessary.

It is difficult for me to imagine myself in another profession, unless it is a profession where I can benefit people and lead teams in providing professional and high-quality service.

I am proud to have led the Department of Emergency Medicine at Hadassah Mount Scopus for the past three years and to have brought it to the forefront in dealing with various emergencies, such as COVID-19 and multi-casualty events; training the future generation of students and interns; and achieving excellence in clinical teaching. At the same time, we have opened an ambulatory wing and new shock and trauma rooms, aimed at providing services with the highest standards of patient care.

At first, my family tried to "convince" me to choose an easier field than emergency medicine. But when they realized that I was fully aware of the price I was going to have to pay, and that I was sticking to the goal, they were and still are 100 percent supportive, encouraging and proud!

My husband, daughters and the rest of my family are the most important anchors in my life!

My mother, Aviva, is my hero. She is an example of achievement and success against all odds. Though she married at a very young age and raised five children, she did not give up on a career, and, in recent years, completed her studies. Today she is a sought-after lecturer on the empowerment of women.

I want my daughters, when they are grown women, to look at the path I have taken. They will be proud and will understand that they can achieve everything, that the sky is the limit.

In essence, this is my message to all women: You are capable! I encourage you not to hesitate, to move forward and take key positions, to lead and to influence. You can do it!

Dr. Liat Appelbaum writes,

I really like the field of radiology, which is a bit like detective work. I was first exposed to it during my internship, because it's an area you don't learn about during all the years of medical school.

I studied medicine at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine and did my internship and then my residency in radiology at Hadassah. I did a second residency in Boston. It was definitely a unique and good experience, also for my family.My children learned English and their English has remained very good to this day.

When I finished my residency, I returned to Hadassah, which is a second home for me. I arrive every morning with joy and excitement to begin the new workday.

My specialty, body imaging and invasive radiology, is fascinating and very connected to other specialties, so that I work closely on a daily basis with oncologists, surgeons, gastroenterologists, hematologists, urologists and others. Despite my great enjoyment in deciphering CT imaging and MRIs, my real love is ultrasound. My relationship with human beings is very important to me, and only ultrasound allows for real human contact. When I examine a patient, I use all my senses as a doctor and as a clinician. This is something that is not possible when you simply view an image on a screen. Every day, I meet fascinating people, truly inspiring individuals.

When I started medical school, my goal was to become a plastic surgeon. I always loved working with my hands. I loved art and painted for my own pleasure. My work today includes a great deal of invasive radiology, which combines precise work with my hands, while imaging devices, especially the ultrasound, become my eyes, as they “look” inside the body.

I have combined the needs of my home with my career. When the children were young, I worked fewer extended hours. After I completed my shift, I would go home in the morning and have the whole day free with my children. I always made sure that my job didn't stop me from being an involved mom. There was no party in kindergarten nor parent-teacher conference that I missed.

Today, now that my children are grown, I have much longer working hours, with clinics until the evening almost every day. The only one waiting at home and for whom I'm under pressure to return to is our little puppy.

When I'm asked about a heroine in my life, I say it’s my mother. Born in Jerusalem, a seventh- generation Israeli, my mother grew up in an ultra-Orthodox community. Along with her close connection to and great love for that community, she managed to go to law school at the Hebrew University. Her professional life is filled with helping other women, since, for years, she volunteered at Bat Melech, which serves abused ultra–Orthodox women. She represented many of them in the rabbinical and secular courts and managed to release many women from their darkness into the light.

During the years she was raising her five children, she saw this as her career. We were never “latch-key” kids. We always came home from school to a warm meal and a mother at home. It was only after we grew up that my mother returned to investing more in her career and working outside the home.

Today, there is no area in which a woman cannot succeed. International Women’s Day is a great female celebration in an era where there is no longer a glass ceiling for women. This should be celebrated!