Reem Shemer, Medical Student and Coronavirus Volunteer


Reem Shemer made aliya from England as a young child and grew up in Jerusalem. After completing his military service and traveling the world, he underwent EMT training with Magen David Adom (MDA) – where he fell in love with the medical profession.  

After completing the first three years of medical school, the pre-clinical years, Reem finally entered the hospital to begin his hands-on training. Surrounded by doctors, treating patients, and learning on a daily basis filled him with immense satisfaction.  

Doing rotations in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Reem met Dr. Rosa Ruchlemer, a hematologist, and Dr. Rachel Bar Shalom, of nuclear medicine. He joined their study on the detection of osteoporosis among lymphoma patients. Specifically, they found that PET-CT scans, a procedure all too familiar to lymphoma patients, may also serve the early detection of osteoporosis. Their findings were presented at a conference and will soon be published.  

Looking forward, Reem will begin his internship at Shaare Zedek and specialize in family medicine. He hopes to eventually move to northern Israel, where he can practice community medicine in Israel’s geographic periphery.  

Volunteering during the Coronavirus Crisis 

As the virus spread across Israel, Reem sought out opportunities to volunteer. He joined MDA, first taking samples in people’s homes, and later at the drive-in test site.

In those first days there was a lot of panic, and people were terrified of a pandemic. Nobody knew how events would unfold, but I couldn’t just stay home without doing anything.

In addition, Reem ordinarily works as a doctor’s assistant in Shaare Zedek’s Department of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. When COVID-19 patients began arriving at the hospital, he gladly accepted an invitation to transfer to the Coronavirus ward. 

It was a meaningful experience, but also very challenging. The PPE was stuffy, uncomfortable, and prevented human contact with patients. This was especially true for the older patients who were feverish and confused by these “aliens” in puffy white suits.

Despite his discomfort and patent concerns about bringing the virus back to his family, including his infant son, Reem found the experience gratifying.

One moment that never failed to touch me was when a severely ill patient finally recovered and was being discharged. As the patient existed the Coronavirus ward, the medical staff stood in two rows, smiling and clapping, as the patient passed between them. For the first time, the patient could see the faces of the dedicated medical staff who had cared for them during their stay.

June 2020


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