McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Pinhas Ephrat looks forward to a career in community medicine

By Suzaane Morrison
Published: May 21, 2013
Pinhas Ephrat
For Pinhas Ephrat, spending time with patients and learning their issues, concerns, strengths and weaknesses are what family medicine offers him with its holistic approach to care.

Pinhas Ephrat laughs while remembering being tagged as "the guy who likes to talk to patients" while spending time as a medical student in the intensive care unit (ICU) at a Niagara region hospital.

He likes that distinction. It's one he says he will continue to wear proudly as a rural family doctor in the Niagara area in the future. His first step is his graduation from the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University's spring convocation on Friday, May 24.

He is one of 25 new physicians graduating from the Niagara regional campus as part of a class of 204 graduating from the medical school. The Faculty of Health Sciences convocation will see 498 graduates from programs including midwifery, Bachelor of Health Sciences, and several graduate programs cross the stage.

"Pinhas is a good example of the benefits of bringing medical education to the community," said Karl Stobbe, regional assistant dean of the Niagara campus of the McMaster medical school. "While studying medicine, Pinhas has inspired people to talk about patient-centered care.  He also founded the Niagara Research Society — a student research club.  His inspiration and leadership will continue to be welcome."

For Pinhas Ephrat, spending time with patients and learning their issues, concerns, strengths and weaknesses are what family medicine offers him with its holistic approach to care, he said. He is scheduled to remain at the Niagara Regional Campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine for his two-year residency in family medicine. After that, he plans to set up practice in Fort Erie. 

Ephrat's studies have been a lifetime away from his original plans, as he left a research career in medical biophysics to become a doctor.

Born in Be'er Sheva, Israel, Ephrat was 29 when he came to Canada. Encouraged to move by his wife, Sigalit, who wanted to be closer to her family in Toronto, he was fresh out of the military with a master's degree in physics from Tel Aviv University.

In Canada, he earned a PhD in medical biophysics at the University of Western Ontario. "Back at that time, I didn't know I was people oriented," he said.

While working towards his PhD, Ephrat had the opportunity to be around patients while working in a hospital laboratory. A lot of his work was related to health care. "That was the bridge to family medicine, but it took me awhile to realize that," he said.

After finishing his PhD, he had a good job in Toronto but without the passion he wanted. "It was interesting but not captivating, and that made me feel even stronger that I was supposed to make the change."

It took some convincing from his wife, and a good family friend who is a doctor. "She kept pushing me because she realized I liked family medicine and I'm so glad she did it," he said.

As a student he had experience with the different specialties in medicine, but Ephrat realized family medicine is the right choice for him. "I wanted something more holistic that included the whole person," he said.

He was even more convinced after spending time with family doctors in Grimsby and Fort Erie. "They see patients in a variety of settings — not just their office — but in the emergency department, the operating room and at home. That's what led me to think I wanted long-term relationships with patients."

His wife and three children will attend convocation along with his mother, Pinina, who is travelling from Israel to be here. "My sister is an orthopedic surgeon in Israel so my mother is used to having doctors in the family," he said.

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