International medical students
The hiking is wonderful
HSIMS Photo (L-R) Katja Worzfeld and Ronen Elishar
By Sharon Gray
Katja Worzfeld and Ronen Elishar are medical students at the University
of Heidelberg in Germany. But right now they are studying surgery in St.
Johns through the Faculty of Medicines Undergraduate Medical
Under this program, medical students from other universities may stay
in the province for a maximum of eight weeks for clinical or research
electives. Its a popular program internationally, particularly in
Germany. Last year the Undergraduate Medical Education Office received
about 450 inquiries of this number, 75 students were placed, including
25 Canadians and about 30 from German universities.
Katja and Ronen consider themselves lucky to have been accepted. We
wanted to do an elective in Canada and we applied to many universities
before finally being accepted at Memorial, said Ronen, an Israeli
who entered medical studies at the University of Heidelberg after three
years military service in his own country.
Katja grew up in the southern part of Germany, and like many European
medical students entered medical school directly at age 19. At Memorial,
students must first complete a bachelors degree in any subject before
applying to medical school. It takes six years to complete a medical degree
in Germany (at Memorial its a four-year program).
One of the great attractions for international students at Canadian medical
schools is direct contact with patients. While medical students at Memorial
are in clinical settings very early in their studies, Katja and Ronen
explained that they have only had hospital experience in their final year
Having grown up in the Alps, Katja is an ardent hiker and both she and
Ronen have already explored many of the hiking trails around St. Johns.
The hiking here is wonderful, said Katja last week during
an interview with the Gazette at St. Clares Hospital.
Ronen added, We went to Gros Morne in early September and now we
are planning a weekend trip to Cape Spear.
Like many international students, Ronen and Katja are fluent in a number
of languages. Besides his mother tongue of Hebrew, Ronen speaks French,
Italian, German and English. In addition to German, Katja speaks English,
French and Italian.
Dr. Thomas Scott, assistant dean for undergraduate medical education in
the Faculty of Medicine, enjoys the constant flow of international students
through Memorial. Even though we cant take everyone who applies,
we know that the students who are accepted are grateful and eager to learn.
The experience at Memorial University and in the province is something
they will never forget.
Dr. Scott said that processing the clinical applications is a lot of work,
particularly for secretary Ruth Alivio, but its a service the Faculty
of Medicine is pleased to offer. Ms. Alivio agreed it is a lot of work,
but she enjoys the job. Her main concern is processing the applications
carefully and ensuring that students from other countries are fluent in
English and have sufficient funding to cover all associated costs, including
The two students interviewed by the Gazette are certainly thankful that
Memorial University has accommodated their studies. When they finish their
eight-week elective in mid-October they will return to Germany. As to
the future, Ronen plans to specialize in surgery and Katja plans to pursue
post-graduate training in child and adolescent psychiatry.