Skip to main content

Israeli med students volunteered in Czechia during coronavirus crisis

Although Henney-Diana Faibish and Ido Sadeh live just thirty minutes away from each other back home in Israel, they only met once they became students at the MU Faculty of Medicine in Brno.

When the faculty sent out a questionnaire to students in mid-March asking whether they would be willing to volunteer at the University Hospital Brno during the coronavirus crisis, they both signed up without hesitation and started helping out at the Department of Anaesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Medicine.

“While it was challenging to work at the hospital five days a week while continuing with our studies in a distance format, we learned so much every day at the emergency department,” says Ido. “The patients at the department had suffered a serious accident, required resuscitation or were waiting for surgery. We assisted the doctors, monitored the patients’ vital signs and were even present during a scoliosis surgery.”

Onboarding was quick for both students as much of it was familiar to them due to their service in the Israeli army. Military service is mandatory in Israel after completing secondary school at the age of 18: men serve for three years and women for two. Ido spent his three years as a medic with the combat units, and Diana spent her first six months as a platoon medic at a base for cadets with problematic and criminal background. She then completed a paramedic training and eventually became a paramedic instructor.

Both are full of praise for how the Czech Republic was able to handle the coronavirus outbreak: “I was astonished to see how quickly the government took preventive measures and how the people reacted seriously to the whole situation from day one. Everyone understood the need for the strict measures, automatically kept the required distance and only went out when necessary. What moved me was how people took to their sewing machines when the government made it mandatory to wear face masks in the public, and the whole country had enough face masks in a matter of days. The coronavirus crisis showed the true nature of Czechs and I really like it,” says Diana, who received her own face mask from a stranger through Facebook.

Loving Brno and Masaryk University

The Israeli couple volunteered at the University Hospital Brno until the end of April. The end of May will bring the end of the semester and the start of the exam period. Most of the exams will be held online although some will require personal attendance as the students are expected to demonstrate their real-life skills.

Ido Sadeh and Henney-Diana Faibish in front of Campus Bohunice.

Although the entire spring semester was complicated, with all classes switching to online mode after a month, the two students believe that they will be able to complete their studies without any further problems. As Ido says, “We are glad that we could have been of help to hospitals during this uncertain time. This was why we stayed in the Czech Republic when the state of emergency was declared – we were more useful here than we would have been in Israel. The doctors and nurses at the emergency department devoted a lot of their time to make sure we understood everything. We are glad we could have been here with them in these difficult times.”

Diana and Ido will be graduating from the MU Faculty of Medicine at the end of the next academic year so are now pondering over their specialisations. Diana is considering neurology and Ido would like to focus on sports medicine. “We might go to work in Germany or Denmark or possibly return to Israel. We’ll see. Our profession is great in that doctors will always be needed and are welcome in every country. Another great advantage is that a diploma from MUNI is valid anywhere in the world,” says Diana with a smile.

Nevertheless, both students will be sorry to leave Brno and Masaryk University. The city was love at first sight for them – and for Diana, this was before she even applied to MU. When she travelled around Europe six years ago, she visited the premises of the MU Faculty of Medicine at the campus and immediately knew this was where she wanted to study. “And I certainly have no regrets: I could not have chosen a better city or a better university,” she adds.

Ido will also miss Brno: “The time spent in Czechia flies so fast but I’m enjoying every minute. I’m really happy that I can study here – the faculty has a great reputation abroad. I have been fortunate to meet so many excellent doctors and I received a top-notch education. I think we both received first-rate training to start practising medicine.”