EMA Care Blog

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Learning vs. Medical Care in Gap Year students

[caption id="attachment_1329" align="alignright" width="300"]Young handsome sick or unwell man in bed with a flu or fever Sick Gap Year student...learning or health care?


Students often feel that they have to choose between their yeshiva or seminary learning program and attending (even the occasional) medical appointment.

The student in Israel with pre-existing health issues has an ongoing debate between uninterrupted study and taking care of their medical needs.  Inevitably,  if left ignored, the health issue dominates and may even impede a student’s ability to stay in Israel.

What is the problem?


1) Many students come to Israel with pre-existing health conditions, impacting physical health, mental health, or most often, a combination of both. Some develop new health conditions during their year in Israel.  Nearly ALL children with chronic health problems have some mental health symptoms, such as stress or depression.  Here is an article about this phenomenon.

2) Prior to coming to Israel, most parents have supervised and organized their children’s health care, allowing the students to focus on other things like school, friends, extra-curricular activities. Coming to Israel, 18-year-old students are faced with handling these additional responsibilities alone.

3) Most students in their gap-year in Israel have dreamt of this year for months or years beforehand, and I can guarantee they didn’t dream of medical appointments! When reality hits, it is greatly disappointing to students to have their vision of euphoric learning and fun – suddenly disrupted.



The above mentioned issues lead to the problem: Students often feel that they have to choose between their yeshiva or seminary learning program and attending (even the occasional) medical appointment.  Disrupting their euphoric dream by waiting in a medical office or pharmacy is so unappealing that they oftentimes neglect their own health in favor of the pursuit of their now-unrealistic dream of a care-free year in Israel.

Not every 18-year old makes good decisions, and not every 18-year old is able to see a middle road or compromise for their year in Israel.  But too often, the negligence or denial of health issues (mental or physical) leads to people returning home early or becoming seriously ill – defeating the purpose of their year in Israel.  Those who make the decision to take care of their health first, can oftentimes rehabilitate and return to full-time study.

Remember, nearly all yeshivas and seminaries will accommodate students with health needs if they believe the student is being responsible, well-managed, and under appropriate care.  There are few programs that will keep students with health issues who do not meet these criteria: the responsibility is simply too great.

EMA Care provides health advocacy, case management, referral services, and professional liaising and communication with health care providers, gap-year program (yeshiva/ seminary) administrators, parents, and students to ensure your child’s best chance at a successful year, particularly when pre-existing health conditions exist.

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