Ever since I started my career as a nurse three years ago, I always knew I wanted to work in another country on an internship related to healthcare, but nothing really clicked. After visiting Israel last year for a wedding, I knew that Israel was where I wanted to be. I felt a sense of connection to the country and the people of Israel, and wanted to learn more about my own Jewish heritage and the Israeli culture.
After extensive research I came across Career Israel, which offered a variety of internships related to the Health Care profession. There were so many to choose from, and all of them would have been great experiences; however, the one that jumped out to me was working at the Refugee Clinic. After I advised Career Israel of my selection, I was impressed with how professional, efficient, and proactive Career Israel was with setting up my internship.
On my birthday, I left my hometown of Seattle and set off on an adventure of a lifetime. On the plane I was very nervous — I didn’t know what to expect. I was worried about the internship and whether I had made the right decision to leave my life in Seattle. Now it has been nearly two months into my internship, and there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision.
At my internship we provide medical services to mostly Sudanese and Eritrean refugees who speak hardly any English and very little Hebrew, which makes it very challenging to communicate. This unique clinic has two sides, one is called Terem, which is more like an Urgent Care, and the other has specialty doctors come as needed including General Practitioners and Pediatricians. I am assigned to both sides assisting in various tasks such as making splints, wound care, placing IV’s, interpreting labs, etc. The most unusual thing I’ve seen so far was helping a doctor pull a cockroach out of someone’s ear, which is definitely something you don’t see every day! The manager of the clinic is open to new ideas and encourages us to think outside the box regarding how to improve the quality of care, and help things run smoothly.
I initially thought I wouldn’t like living in an apartment and having a roommate again, but having the support of everybody and fellow interns to explore the city with have been instrumental in making my experience very enjoyable. I adapted quickly to my living situation and am very comfortable living in Israel because of the people in the program. Tel Aviv is an incredible city that has so much to offer. I would say it’s a lot like New York and Los Angeles combined. The public transportation is easy and safe, we are about a five minute walk from the beach, the sun is always shining, and the city never sleeps.
I feel fortunate to have found an internship where I can utilize my background and experience as a nurse, while learning new skills and enhancing my knowledge as a healthcare provider. Working with this refugee population has made me so grateful for what I have, but my experience has also opened my eyes to something I would like to do in the future. I think this has been a life changing experience, and I hope to not only become a better healthcare provider, but a better person overall.
Melinda is from Los Angeles, CA.