Jerusalem Hospital As Seen by Young Apprentice

Lyn with Assistant Orthoptist, Younis Abdel Jawwad, at the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
Monday, 14 March 2011

"My Trip to the St John Eye Hospital" by Lyn Zimmo

Lyn Zimmo is a final year medical student at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University.  While attending an ophthalmology conference at the Royal Society of Medicine, she heard about St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem. 

Lyn contacted Medical Coordinator, Maureen Meo, who manages medical trainees at the hospital and, before long she was heading to Jerusalem to undertake an elective placement that will contribute to her final qualification.  She has kindly written her impressions of life at the Hospital down for us. 

“Upon my arrival at the St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem, I was given a tour and introduced to all the staff.  Almost instantly I started feeling at home as everyone was so welcoming and friendly.  My first clinic was in Paediatric Ophthalmology, which is part of the large Orthoptics Department.  I vaguely remembered being taught this in medical school!  Luckily, Head Orthoptist, Judith Musallam, was very keen on teaching and, by the end of the clinic, I felt able to follow the consultations and understand the test results.

As the week went on my local travel permits arrived and I was able to go out with the Mobile Outreach Clinics.  The staff were so pleasant and energetic, it always felt like a school trip as we all packed into the bus and set off.  At the Clinics, which were invariably overbooked, we were always welcomed warmly and with utmost gratitude. Some of the patients we saw had never even seen an optician before.

Back in Jerusalem, I often returned to the hospital for the evening emergency shift.  The wealth of experienced nursing staff and keen juniors kept me coming back night after night. The emergency shifts gave me a further opportunity to learn and to discuss things that I didn’t yet fully understand. 

Poor access, lack of screening, difficult follow up, and consanguinity all mean that St John Eye Hospital has a steady stream of clinically interesting cases, all of which are presented at the Grand Rounds. These weekly clinical staff meetings, which were never without mint tea, consisted of a short presentation and a long discussion about treatment and prognosis and, without fail, me cornering one of the consultants to help me understand the pathophysiology of the conditions discussed.

On my last day in the hospital, drenched in sunshine, I walked past the charming garden and the tennis court and hoped to return as a trainee one day: I have made many lasting friendships and have so many fond memories to hold on to until that day arrives…”

Lyn Zimmo will finish Medical School this summer.  She will then complete a further two years of generic foundation training before applying to do more specialist training. She is keen to specialize in Ophthalmology.