“One cannot become a successful doctor without the human element, or without familiarizing oneself with all types of populations.” This is the motto of the unique course “Man and Medicine” taught to second year students from the Hebrew University Medical School program.
Within the framework of the course, students visit a wide variety of institutions serving the disability community. Among them is the ALEH Jerusalem Center, which for years has featured high on the agenda of course participants. Their visit exposes them to a paradigm of high-level professional medical care, devoted caregiving, and innovative communication methods developed on-site. In what proves to be a novel experience for most, they are moved by the faith and optimism of the ALEH multidisciplinary staff, who assure their ALEH charges the same equal opportunities for dignity and quality of life afforded their nondisabled peers within the general community.
“The importance of these visits cannot be underestimated,” says Rachel, Director at the ALEH Jerusalem Special Education School. “They offer us a critical opportunity to drive home the message that our children have feelings, emotions and fears just like children everywhere, and that they must be treated with the respect due them.”
“Early on in their medical studies is the perfect time to introduce these beginning medical students to ALEH’s children,” explains Rikki, the head nurse. “That way, when they meet them later on at the hospital, they will remember their tour of ALEH and will accord them the same respect they witnessed there.”
Medical students find ALEH Jerusalem a source of inspiration. They marvel at the professionalism, positive approach, and unparalleled humanity and dignity in the care provided by the entire staff.
A different group of medical students arrives each week for a visit of several hours. Upon completion of their course, students are given the option of returning for a day of volunteering at one of the organizations visited. Year after year, the ALEH sign-up list is always full. The love and devotion combined with exemplary professionalism is the magic formula that attracts the young trainees to ALEH Jerusalem.
In the words of one young medical student: “I can only hope that I, too, will one day attain the level of recognizing the value of all individuals as they are – as people in need of warmth, love, and above all, respect.”