On March 21, 1973, The Israeli Council for Higher Education charged the fledgling Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) with establishing Israel's fourth medical school in Beer-Sheva, as part of and in collaboration with Clalit Health Services and Soroka Medical Center. This momentous resolution brought to a close a long campaign led by Beer-Sheva's mayor David Tuviyahu, who was instrumental in the establishment of both the University and its medical school.
The founders of the medical school, led by Prof. Haim Doron, Director General of Clalit and Prof. Moshe Prewes, President of BGU, sought to educate a new breed of physicians and healthcare professionals with a more humanistic and holistic approach to their patients. Their vision at the time marked a dramatic departure from conventional institutions for medical education. In order to counter the trend toward training specialists who tend to focus on only the "sick" part of the patient, and whose services are rendered in large central hospitals, the new medical school presented a so-called experimental program to educate and train doctors with a high level of commitment and sensitivity to the community.
This vision was expressed directly in the curriculum and structure of the new medical school. The admissions procedures, the incorporation of social and behavioral sciences into para-clinical studies, problem-based learning, and early hands-on clinical experience were just a few of the ways it was implemented. The hope was that graduates would acquire the ability to identify the social and health challenges facing the populations within which they reside, and go beyond medical treatment to serve as pillars of their communities and thereby improve everyone's overall health.
In 1978, upon its inauguration, the Recanati School for Community Health Professions with its programs in nursing and physiotherapy was combined with the medical school and the division for basic science to create the Faculty of Health Sciences, which brought all health and medical research fields under one roof. Additional undergraduate and graduate programs were launched in the 1990s, including the programs in emergency medicine, epidemiology, medical laboratory sciences, gerontology, and health systems management. The School for International Medicine, a unique program run in collaboration with Columbia University in NY, was founded in 1998. The School of Pharmacology was inaugurated in 200?, and in 2003, the Medical School finally moved to its new home, a modern campus located between the University's Marcus Family Campus and the Soroka University Medical Center.
The result of these efforts has become a model of medical education and the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University is now a world leader in the field of community medicine. Its founding and subsequent growth have made possible the expansion and improvement of Soroka Medical Center into a major regional hospital with a broad array of sophisticated services. And the placement of students, residents and faculty (part-time) throughout the Negev undoubtedly contributed to the improvement in the range and quality of medical care in the clinics of the region.
In 2014, as the medical school celebrated its 40th anniversary, the FOHS saw the founders' vision come full circle, with the election of Prof. Amos Katz, a graduate of the medical school's first class, to serve as Dean.