I'm currently a second year student in the program. We just graduated our first class last year and had a 100% acceptance rate to residencies, some to big names like Georgetown and Columbia.
The connection to Columbia Univ is extremely effective. If you can make it through our program, you'll probably get a residency (although everyone went for primary care stuff last year, so we'll see how things go as more people apply for surgical spots).
Our students usually were accepted at other US schools, so the program is quite a step up from some of the other non-US schools. But I would say it is probably a little easier to get into than some US schools.
So far, residency and clinical rotation directors love us (although they haven't met me, which might screw up everything). We learned a foreign language (Hebrew) while in medical school, have dealt with extremely varied people groups (Israelis, Arabs, Russians, S. Americans, "Africans"), and have had first-hand exposure to the intersection b/t politics and medicine. The classes are in English, the program is US style and run by Israelis who have strong connections (and often education) in the US. Makes a pretty cogent argument for a residency spot.
Israel is awesome (propaganda "terror" news notwithstanding), and if I had the option of going to Harvard, I'd still stay here. I'm that happy with the program. That's not to say there aren't problems with the school. Its pretty new and there are still kinks being worked out. But overall, I love where I am.
Oh, and the travel opportunities are unbelievable. Our students will go hang in Prauge (for example) for 3-day weekends. You can get to Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt and Jordan for almost nothing if you jump into last minute deals with travel agents here. I could go on and on.
Secretwave101, is this school open to non-traditional, older students? I'm 42 and applying widely this year to medical schools. After reading about the location, culturally diverse patient population, and international emphasis, I suspect that I, too, would prefer this school to a US school.
My second question (and this may betray my ignorance of Israeli culture) is whether the students and faculty are open toward a student from a non-Jewish background. Specifically, I am a Catholic bound by specific ethical strictures regarding the unborn child and human reproduction.
I guess i got a couple of questions. I was wondering what the application process was like with this school. Are interviews conducted out of NY?
Is this school similar to the Sackler program in Tel Aviv where you dont really come back to the US as a foreign medical student? Or am I just completly wrong in my understanding of Sackler?
My only other concern is about the state of the school in terms of security and how that is affecting the way the school operates and what life is like there. Things could get very messier there in the next couple months if Bush does what he wants with Iraq.
I think thats all the questions Ive got now. Thanks for the reply, it did help me deciding about the school.
They're very open to non-trad. I'm a 28 yo male, married with two kids. There's a few older than me in my class, and another about your age in the class above me. I feel the admin. has been both receptive to it, and even supportive. It's a major departure from those super-doc types who believe that if you want to be a doc, you need to be married to it. The only thing is that there are also your "straight out of college" types, and they truly do live a different life. It can get a little lonely until you find a niche, unless you bring a family. But I believe that is true of any school where the median age of the class is 24-25.
You're right, your second question betrays your "ignorance" of the culture here, but it is the same way I was and is to be expected. I'm a white, "Christian" (by the look of it) from the "wealthy" suburbs of Colorado. I'd never been out of the US before coming way over here...which was part of the allure of the program for me. One thing to remember about Israel is that, for all the bad reporting about the place, this is actually one of the most diverse and religiously tolerant countries on earth. Because of the Hasidim Jews, and their ultra-orthodox views, everyone here is basically trained to respect other religions. Also, 1/3 of the Arab population is Catholic, which is regarded as Christian by most of the world. I'm not sure of your particular persuasion, but you might be surprised to find that you are not alone. You have to be extremely willing to deal with people who believe totally different things about subjects that you hold very sacred, however.
App. process takes place at Columbia U if you are in the US. We have students from all over the world, and so interviews are set up in different locations globally if necessary.
We are in many ways similar to Sackler, but different in that we specifically emphasize international health and medicine. This emphasis plays itself out in many different ways over the years here. We are also different in that you DO graduate as a FMG, and have to go through the extra junk they put FMG's through if you want a US residency. However, our program is recognized by the NY State Board of Education, and is collaborated with Columbia (all residency and clinical rotation apps come from CU). So, we appear very different than many FMG's, and no one's having a problem going where they want to go.
Security is an issue you have to decide for yourself. I have two daughters, and I was happy to get out of the US this summer and away from men who steal little girls to rape and kill them. Violent, personal crime like we have in the States is almost non-existent here. You basically trade one danger for another.
And terrorism is meant to manipulate you; it doesn't actually hurt that many people (look at the number dead from the ongoing urban war in Columbia...it FAR outdistances the ~2000 people dead here ). I hate being manipulated, so in essence, my presence here is my way of fighting a method of warfare that I think is deplorable and unjustified. Yes, it scares me sometimes. And I avoid crowded places. But some statistician last year calculated that it is more dangerous to drive on a typical US highway, than it is to be exposed to terrorism AND drive on an Israeli highway. I believe it. Also remember that this program is in Beer Sheva, not Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. It is considered "uncontested" land. We've had almost no 'terrorist' activity for years.
A final note on Iraq. I do believe they've got gnarly chemicals and other junk. The original inspectors were over there for a reason. Sadaam has bombed most of his neighbors, dissenters w/in his own country, and Israel in the recent past. While I think something needs to be done to stop them becoming the next Germany of the 30's, I would seriously consider pulling out of here if the US really went to war with them. In that case, Israel is THE main target. The IDF (Israeli Armed Forces), are the strongest military in the entire Middle East. No one here could defeat them if they tried (they HAVE tried...3 times). But anyone can drop bombs on them. Terrorism doesn't change my decisions about this place. War probably will.
thanks for the response. I have decided to apply and hope that the situation over there doesn't worsen. My pre med advisor was curious about the program too and was able to find an article out of the Jerusalem Post from this summer which also cleared up some questions I had as well as some other information which he probably attained from the office in NY.
From what I read it sounds like a great program thats relativly new. I was also happy to read that they have accepted at least one individual from the university I first attended, Brandeis U, and from a state school in Texas where I now reside.
Secretwave101, thank you for taking the time to respond. If there are that many Arab Catholics in the Negev, they are probably Melkite Catholics of the Byzantine tradition. Since I am a Byzantine Catholic (tho' of a Slavic church) I will perhaps not feel too isolated. As for the other faiths and ethnicities, I appreciate deeply held beliefs even when they are at odds with my own. Perhaps people who actually believe something are somehow more naturally human to me (I'd better stop this digression!).
I am glad to hear that the Israelis are culturally tolerant of so many different groups. I suppose they will tolerate me if I refuse to perform abortions or push birth-control pills on every female patient I meet.
just want to offer another opinion on the ben gurion program. the rosy picture painted by secretwave is a bit onesided in my opinion. i'm also a student here and i can only recommend it with extreme reservation- i.e. if you cannot get in somewhere in the u.s. and are willing to put up with a lot of crap to receive an MD, or you are just curious to see an ugly desert town, etc.
israel does feel insecure and unnerving currently. and i would not characterize it as one of the most religiously tolerant countries by any means. and tentcamp- there are not many arab catholics in the negev. at any rate- it's ok here but just want to sound a word of caution that you need to look beyond the glossy advertising of 'international health' and the idealized posts of a small number of students...
-In contrast to the surrounding countries, the religious tolerance practiced in this country is unparalleled. I feel that it is equal to any Western country, but w/o the Christian calendar. At the same time, it is a place where the Jewish religion demands respect. It isn't religious intolerance, it's a way of life...you get the same thing in the States with Christmas and Easter. And while dipsticks is right to say that there aren't many Arab Catholics in the Negev, remember that we are at the extreme northern end of the Negev. 35 minutes up the road is Bethlehem, which is 1/3 AC.
-The security issue you have to decide on for yourself. Everyone is different. Frankly, based on the statistics, it just doesn't bother me that much. I stay away from crowded places if possible...but I've never liked crowds anyway. In reality, I'm more worried to see some terrible thing happening in the US than Israel.
-The "alot of crap" you have to "put up with" is, in my opinion, called med school. Yes, there are annoying issues that we deal with in this program that are unique to us. But every program has problems. Med school is a pain in the ass...bottom line. And of course, being an FMG has its own difficulties that do make our path more difficult, no question. But from what I've heard, we have it much more easy that the typical FMG.
-From my experience, the larger majority of the students here are generally happy with the program. I'm fairly certain that dipstick's pessimism is in the minority.
Many people in the program came here because they wanted to come, not because they had to. Fundamentally, if you come here because you feel you have to, you'll probably hate it. But if you come here for the new experience and for the adventure, chances are good that you'll like it.
-Oh, and dipsticks is right...Beer Sheva is the freaking ugliest town I've ever seen. The place has grown on me over time, and I'll be sad to leave, but DANG this place could use a makeover!
tentcamp- well can't really say about irish schools, dublin is cool but i dont know anything about their programs. DO is cool too, i think, but it depends on if you're really interested in being a DO or just as a backup alternative to MD..?
my point is just that i think the BGU program is not quite what it appears to be in their advertising. and if you are really serious and end up applying and being accepted there- i would highly recommend you go visit first! and talk to more than 1 or 2 students... and contrary to secretwave, i think that if you end up at BGU because you had no alternative and were determined to get your medical education you might have an ok time of it. but if you passed up a good school in the US you will probably end up kicking yourself after 1 month in israel...
Whatup chopsticks? Gotta figure out who you are! There's a short list of possibilities...
Anyway, dipsticks might be right about the advertising thing. I guess that's probably true everywhere.
On the other hand, I know two people here who got into US schools (good ones, too), and are happy with our program. There's probably others who are kicking themselves...but just so you know, it isn't everyone.
Being happy here is heavily dependent on your perspective.