Dafna Willner: Striving and Achieving in Medicine and Motherhood

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Dr. Dafna Willner at her desk in the GMC Department of Anesthesia.

Dr. Dafna Willner, the current Chairman, Department of Anesthesia and Director of Operating Rooms at Galilee Medical Center, was born in Eilat, Israel, and moved to New York with her family at age 5.

For two years after receiving her medical degree, Dr. Willner was a “part time Mom,” while specializing in Neuroanesthesia at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Oregon.

Upon graduation from high school, Dr. Willner packed her suitcase and returned to Israel, serving one year in National Service (Sherut Leumi) at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital. She then registered for medical studies at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine.

Dr. Willner strongly believes in education, and thus eight years ago, while working for Hadassah Medical Center, she initiated an annual national three-day workshop in Anesthesia, preparing residents for their stage 1 exams.
To this day, she continues to organize this conference and workshop and still lectures every year.

A year later she got married and successfully juggled motherhood to her seven children and her professional studies.

Three years ago Dr. Dafna Willner felt the need for a change, to give back to her profession and her community, and do meaningful and essential work in Israel’s northern periphery. Despite the lower salary and other sacrifices, Dr. Willner moved North with her family and was soon appointed as the Chairman of the Department of Anesthesia and Director of Operating Rooms at Galilee Medical Center. For her, it was the opportunity to fulfill her idealistic spirit and continue to be a role model -serving the diverse population of Jews, Arabs, and Druze, to provide medical treatment to soldiers, and to strengthen the periphery. Furthermore, in her role as the GMC’s Chairman of the Dept. of Anesthesia and Director of Operating Rooms she realized the need to further expand services to treat tourists and visitors injured while exploring the beauty of the Galilee.

Dr. Willner believes that an effective leader and department head attracts good employees and that high quality, motivated employees will provide a high quality of service.

Being an Orthodox woman with seven children did not conflict with Dr. Willner’s dedication to her work, nor did it hold her back from fulfilling her ambitions. That is why she believes strongly in her personal motto:

No one should surrender to limitations – if you believe in something you should strive to achieve it, and whatever you do – do the best you can.