Mayan Robbas: The dream of becoming a doctor took me to Vilnius University

P1010010Vilnius University’s (VU) Faculty of Medicine welcomes more international students every year. This spring the first class of international students of Medicine graduated and the Faculty decided to increase the admissions. Therefore, this autumn 82 students from all over the world began their medical and dental studies in English. Five of them are from Israel, so we sat down to talk to one of them – Mayan Robbas, who says she always knew she would be a doctor.

Why did you choose to study in Vilnius, Lithuania? What motivated you?

People I knew recommended me to study in Vilnius. I heard that the Medicine study program at VU Faculty of Medicine was quite new but promising. And while I was trying to get admitted to medical schools in other countries, I discovered that I got accepted here.

When I first thought of coming here, I have never heard of the Faculty before. But when I discovered I got in, the dream of becoming a doctor led me to the conclusion that I now have the opportunity to fulfil it!

The decision came gradually. After I planned a very clear path that would ultimately lead me to my goal of becoming a doctor, I spent years trying to get accepted into medicine studies in Israel. So at the very last moment, despite the fear of leaving everything I know, I gathered up the courage to come and see what the world and this place have to offer.

After a long period of exertion and deliberation, I realized that the dream of becoming a doctor and the desire to start fulfilling this dream as soon as possible eventually took me to Vilnius University.   

Getting accepted into medicine studies is not easy – high scores are necessary and the competition is tough, so it requires a lot of effort from the applicants.  What was your admissions process like? When and why did you choose this profession?

To be honest, I always knew I wanted to be a doctor or a brain researcher. It was my childhood dream and I was preparing myself for the most prominent medical schools in the world during my high school years. The requirements in Israel were higher than the admission requirements in Vilnius so my grades were not good enough.

Last year I decided to test my future in brain research and began to study in an outstanding program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, a double degree in psychology and biology. But the more time I spent there, the more I realized that the nature of the studies and future work would not suit me because of the lack of personal interaction. The research work sounded interesting, but I felt a tremendous lack of motivation in my studies, so I realized that I needed to choose my future in medicine and do that as soon as possible. So, quite surprisingly, the admission here was relatively easy.

What school did you go to? Were there any connections between your school life and future studies?

I graduated from Leyada (Hebrew University Secondary High School) in Jerusalem. During my high school studies, I specialized in two major topics: biology and the health sciences. These two subjects are definitely related to what I am studying today.

In biology, we studied topics related to the natural sciences and life sciences: genetics, ecology and cell biology, and we carried out various lab experiments, testing the effects of different concentrations of materials on living cells, like yeast and others.

In the field of health sciences, we studied anatomy, histology, diseases, and preventive medicine. We toured hospitals and were allowed to observe surgeries. Finally, we wrote a project on patients with chronic diseases, where we learned about their illnesses and accompanied them during their treatments.

Can you remember the moment when you found out that you got accepted at Vilnius University? How did you feel at that time? What about your family and friends? What was their reaction?

I remember that as soon as I received my acceptance letter I felt a tremendous relief. It was a kind of inner satisfaction that someone there thought I was good enough to bear the great responsibility of caring for patients.

Of course, my parents and friends were happy to hear about my acceptance because they accompanied me throughout my stubborn way of pursuing my dream. In addition, when I finally decided that I was brave enough to move to a new country and an unfamiliar place, there was also a sense of happiness.

You probably had your own vision about your future studies and some expectations for your first days at the faculty?

In fact, since I had already studied at a university, my expectations for the first days of my studies were very much in line with reality. I felt like I knew how to prepare myself for the first week or two of studies. I assumed there would more excitement, rather than studying, nut personally I was really looking forward to the start of the first semester, to the moment when I would begin (or, in a sense, return to) studying what I love.

Do you know any people who work in the medical field who inspire you and serve as an example?

When I was a child, my father worked in a hospital in Israel, albeit not in the medical field, so I got used to seeing hospital processes first hand. Most of my father's friends are doctors and everyone gave me great inspiration to learn and engage in this profession.

As a child, I used to visit my father at work and walk around the hospital. I had the opportunity to see the doctors, my father's friends, leaving patients’ rooms after checking on them, finishing surgeries, and rushing from place to place in the hospital. I can remember the looks they had on their faces after seeing patients in a difficult situation, before or after surgery. Those expressions displayed their sense of mission and the weight of responsibility on their shoulders. Without any doubt, they were my greatest inspiration for choosing this profession.

In your opinion, what are the personality traits of a great doctor?

I don’t think a good doctor can be measured on just one plane. But if I had to choose, I think the best doctor would be the one who could stop time for one moment while standing in front of his patient, forget everything that’s not relevant, listen to the patient if necessary, and choose the best treatment. So in short, healthy judgment is what can make any doctor great, in my eyes.

In my opinion, the personal qualities of a great doctor are many and varied. I believe that a good doctor must have a well-developed emotional intelligence, because he stands in front of people during their most sensitive moments and is obliged to help them. The ability to sense the different signs displayed by patients and people who are in difficult situations also seems critical to me.

A great doctor must possess a great knowledge of medicine, so that he or she may use it easily and quickly when necessary – intelligence is crucial for a doctor, as well as passion for the profession and subjects related to the human body and love for human beings in general.

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