The Technion American Medical Students Program (TeAMS) offers an opportunity for qualified U.S. or Canadian pre-med college graduates to earn his or her M.D. degree in the Ruth & Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine while experiencing life in Israel. Since its inception in 1983, hundreds of students have successfully passed the licensing exams to practice in North America.
This year’s TeAMS graduates have done exceptionally well, placing into some of the most prestigious residency programs in the U.S. One such 2014 graduate, Olivia Diamond, 26, of Scarsdale, New York, who will work at the Harvard-affiliated Mount Auburn Hospital in Massachusetts, speaks to us about her experience at the Technion. In addition to her academics, Olivia is an athlete and linguist. Though she is fluent in Swedish and speaks some Norwegian, Spanish, French, Italian and Arabic, her Hebrew was limited to “shalom” when she arrived at the Technion. Olivia, however, is a fast learner.
Congratulations on being matched with Harvard’s Mount Auburn Hospital. That is quite an accomplishment. Can you tell us a bit about what lies ahead?
I’m very excited! Mount Auburn Hospital is a wonderful teaching hospital. It is affiliated with and staffed by Harvard. Getting into any residency program is very competitive, and getting into Harvard’s was particularly tough. I was the only one at my medical program at the Technion to get accepted.
I’ll be in the three-year internal medicine program, which begins on June 23. I’ll be a Clinical Fellow, which is considered a faculty appointment at the Harvard Medical School. The hospital allows medical students to rotate through the department so I will get to see patients as well as do some clinical teaching. This program is a great gateway, giving me the edge to pursue a fellowship when I’m finished. Eventually, I’d like to be a hematologist oncologist — someone who specializes in cancer and other blood-related disorders.
How was your experience at the TeAMS program? Do you feel prepared for the next step?
I’m really proud to be a future graduate of the Technion. (Graduation is May 12, 2014). The pre-clinical and clinical instruction is fantastic! We were immersed almost immediately into the goings-on of hospital life. We got to watch procedures and shadow doctors on their rounds. In the second year, we went to the hospital twice a week and learned how to take perfect patient histories and physical exams. When the doctors found out that we were from the Technion, they had high expectations and pushed us hard. But I enjoyed the challenge.
Last summer I spent three months as a sub-intern at different hospitals in New York City. My knowledge was as good or better than the other students. And because I had hands-on experience very early on, my clinical thinking and approach to clinical exams was more proficient. I was one of the most adept at putting in IVs and drawing blood.
What made you choose the Technion TeAMS program?
I had always wanted to study abroad while I attended Cornell, but was too busy, so didn’t get the chance. I had never been to Israel, and I’m Jewish, so I felt the connection and thought it would be fantastic to live there for four years. I had heard about the Technion’s reputation in science and engineering but didn’t know that much about the medical program. Once I started looking at medical schools and learned that the Technion required a thesis — a wonderful opportunity to do research — I didn’t look any further.
I did my thesis on the effects of chemotherapy on ovarian function and future fertility, researching a compound that has been shown to block the effects of the chemo in order to spare fertility. I had never before done my own research, compiled data and made my own conclusions, so it was a great experience. I’m looking into the possibility of publishing it.
How did you become interested in medicine?
As a child, I had an obsession with marine life, whales and dolphins. When I was 11, I spent a summer on a small island off Canada at a “whale camp,” and took courses in sea life. I wanted to be a marine biologist.
But I was always an athlete. I played soccer in elementary school and then did track and field and cross-country. Running became my niche, but I developed a condition called exercise-induced compartment syndrome. I was feeling pain and tingling in my legs, and discovered that I was developing muscle and nerve damage. So when I was 15, I had a surgery called a fasciotomy on both of my legs. I was awake through the entire procedure and the surgeon told me step-by-step what she was doing. I thought it was absolutely fascinating and made medicine my goal. Initially I had contemplated going into veterinary
medicine, but then switched because I really wanted to work with people.
It will be nice to get back home, but I wouldn’t trade my experience at the Technion with anyone.