Beyond the Classroom: Interning in Israel

Junior Biochemistry major Alyssa Salera, who interned in Isreal in summer 2019, is photographed outside of the Barnes and Noble

Meet Alyssa Salera, a junior from East Greenwich, NJ (Gloucester County) majoring in Biochemistry from the College of Science & Mathematics. This summer, Alyssa interned in Israel at a rehabilitation hospital, where she worked closely with physical therapists and patients. Today, she will share with us her experience abroad.

Where did you intern this summer?

Rowan Biochemistry major Alyssa Salera (bottom row, second from right) in the Israel clinic
Alyssa (bottom row, second from right) at her internship this summer at the Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel.

“The hospital is called Herzog Hospital and it’s in Jerusalem, Israel. It’s a rehabilitation hospital.”

How did you hear about this internship?

“I went to Israel last summer on a trip called ‘Birthright.’ I was at Barnes and Noble getting coffee with the on-campus Rebbetzin [a rabbi’s wife or a teacher], and we talked about ways on how I could go back to Israel. I told her that I want to go to PA (physician’s assistant) school or med school one day, and she told me about this program that would get me back to Israel and they would set me up with an internship where I could be in a hospital and get both things that I wanted.”

What’s the name of the program, and how was it structured?

“The program is called ‘Onward IsraeLinks,’ and it is a mixture of an internship component and also with that a learning portion. We had a Rabbi and Rebbetzin on the trip with us, who were from Georgia and who taught us in the first 10 days. We talked about what you’re supposed to believe as a Jew and how that translates to life now and modern society. And the last six weeks was just straight internship.”

What kind of things did you do at the rehabilitation hospital?

Rowan Biochemistry major Alyssa Salera taking a selfie with another intern at Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem
Alyssa Salera (at left) with another intern at Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem.

“I worked with a lot of chiropractic patients, who had just had strokes, and I worked with a lot of kids who were in the ICU. With the chiropractic patients, we worked on getting  them started to being able to sit up on their own, to stand up and to walk with our assistance.

There were a few patients, but one in particular, she could barely open her eyes on her own when I first got there; by the end we were able to have her walking on her own with a walker. There was another patient I worked really closely with and he again on my first day in the hospital could barely lift his legs. I worked with him and the physical therapist to have him standing. And on my own we did our own stretches together and exercises. I got to choose pretty much what I wanted to do with him and by the end of the summer he got his red dot, meaning that he can walk on his own with his walker unassisted. So, I was just an extra set of hands, I would get to help them with different sections.”

What did you learn or gain from your internship in Israel?

“It Is really hard to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language as you, and I know very little Hebrew, so it really helped me gain a greater appreciation for working with people who come from all diverse backgrounds and who don’t have the same story as I do. And it just really taught me a lot about confidence in what I’m doing and in that this is what I want to do with my life.”

What’s one memory you will always remember from interning at the hospital?

“That one patient who got his red dot saying that he could walk. I was the one to give him his red dot, because I worked with him every single day over the summer and just watching him barely being able to move his legs and then being able to walk on his own, that was incredible.”

Alyssa in Israel standing in front of a waterfall with a friend
Alyssa standing in front of an Israeli waterfall with a friend.

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Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major