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Talia Subin: a medical trailblazer at 25

 
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Physician assistant-in-training Talia Subin, 25, wanted to do her senior rotation in Israel. That did not prove easy to arrange, since Israel does not have physician assistants, or PAs for short.

“I called a bunch of hospitals there, but no one knew what a physician assistant was,” said the Englewood resident, who is finishing a 32-month master’s program at Touro College in New York.

Little did she realize she would be a trailblazer for the profession which, since 1992 in New Jersey, will grant her a license to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician — which means that she may conduct physical examinations, obtain medical histories, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, provide counsel on preventative healthcare, assist in surgery, and prescribe medications.

Subin was about to give up on the Israel idea when a friend told her about Dr. Norman Loberant, a United States-born radiologist at Western Galilee Hospital, a 700-bed facility in Nahariya. She emailed him in September and began her six-week externship on Oct. 10, thanks to the Partnership 2000 program linking the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey (JFNNJ) to Nahariya.

Loberant is a member of the medical task force for Partnership 2000 in North Jersey and also with a consortium of 16 central U.S. cities. Among several medical exchange programs he coordinates are month-long externships at his hospital for fourth-year students from various medical schools in the United States.

“Over the last four or five years we have had a number of medical students, mostly from the Central Consortium,” said Loberant. “We build a program for them according to their interests. So when I was approached by Talia, I immediately said ‘yes’ because I’m aware of physician assistants from working in the United States, where they are an integral part of the medical team. I said she’d be treated exactly as a fourth-year medical student.”

When Subin told him she was from North Jersey, Loberant suggested she contact Dr. Deane Penn, head of the JFNNJ Partnership 2000 medical task force, and Sarit Ron, a Partnership 2000 board member.

“Sarit arranged for a scholarship for me to stay at the dorm for international students at the hospital there,” said Subin, a graduate of Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School in Teaneck and Rutgers University.

Loberant took care of all the paperwork to forge an official alliance between Western Galilee and Touro, paving the way for future externships. “According to her interests, I patched together a program for her over six weeks, half in cardiology and half in emergency medicine,” he said.

Although physician assistants are not recognized in Israel, Loberant did not experience anything but enthusiasm from the hospital’s staff about Subin’s arrival. “She was welcomed as a student,” he said.

“As I tell everyone, it was amazing, and I learned so much. I felt the doctors in Israel truly wanted me to learn,” Subin said. “Everything they did, they described carefully as they were doing it.”

She had an advantage over most other externs in that she speaks Hebrew fluently, thanks to her Israeli mother, “but it’s a different Hebrew than you speak in the hospital,” she said. “I had to write up notes and learn medical terminology, so it improved my professional Hebrew. And in the emergency department, I learned to deal with Arabs, Russians, Druze — a variety of cultures.”

Throughout the six weeks, doctors and nurses at Western Galilee were eager to learn more about the PA field, and offered Subin housing and meals at their homes.

“Everyone in the north was so accommodating and helpful,” she said. “When I first arrived, a couple of people from Partnership 2000 helped me get settled and showed me the town and around the hospital, including the new ‘bunker’ emergency department.”

The bomb-proof facility, the only one of its kind in Israel, proved invaluable during the 2006 deluge of rockets from Lebanon, during which Western Galilee treated 1,872 casualties. “Anything I needed or wanted, they were always there for me. I felt it was like my home,” she said.

Subin would like to move to Israel one day, but says she is realistic about how long it could take for PAs to be officially recognized. “I think Israel can benefit from this profession, and I will try to do everything I can to facilitate this,” she said.

Loberant has informed JFNNJ that he would be happy to arrange other externships for senior PA students, and will support any initiative that the American Academy of Physician Assistants may want to launch in the Israeli medical establishment.

Penn said he is interested in coordinating more externships at Western Galilee. “They have very fine doctors there,” he said. Penn may be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for further details.

 
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Reality check

Author to discuss intergenerational ‘experiment’

Katie Hafner began her professional career writing for a small newspaper in Lake Tahoe.

That didn’t last for long, though. “I worked my way up,” said Ms. Hafner, who now writes on health care for the New York Times.

A seasoned journalist, Ms. Hafner was exceptionally well prepared to chronicle an experience in her own life that she calls both an “experiment in intergenerational living” and a “disaster.” Inviting her 77-year-old mother to live with her and her teenage daughter, Zoe, in San Francisco, Ms. Hafner learned that fairy-tale imaginings are no match for emotional truths.

(In her book, Ms. Hafner calls her mother Helen. That is not her real name; her mother requested anonymity, and Ms. Hafner honored the request.)

 

Self-defense or unnecessary danger?

Armed self-defense is a value strongly supported in Jewish law, according to a statement issued last week by a local Jewish gun club, which is urging two of the largest Orthodox organizations in the country to reconsider their positions on gun control.

On July 16, the Rabbinical Council of America, an organization representing Orthodox rabbis in the United States, issued a statement recognizing the rights of private citizens to own weapons and engage in violence for self-defense, but also calling for the restriction of “easy and unregulated access to weapons and ammunition,” and denounced “recreational activities that desensitize participants … or glorify war, killing, physical violence, and weapons….”

The RCA resolution came just over a year after the Orthodox Union issued a similar resolution citing its longtime commitment to “common sense gun safety legislation” and calling on U.S. senators to pass legislation to ensure “a safer and more secure American society.”

 

Pruzansky vs. Matanky

Rabbi’s Nazi analogy draws fire

The president of the Rabbinical Council of American, Rabbi Leonard Matanky, has weighed in on the ongoing dispute between Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck and Gary Rosenblatt of Teaneck, editor and publisher of New York’s Jewish Week.

“I am pained that I have to distance myself from a colleague, but the kind of language that Rabbi Pruzansky used is unacceptable and crosses the line of decency and discourse,” Rabbi Matanky is quoted in the Jewish Week as having written. (Rabbi Matanky lives in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood — which is more or less the Teaneck of the Midwest — where he is rabbi of Congregations K.I.N.S. and dean of the Ida Crown Jewish Academy.)

 

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According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
 
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