Medical Professionals Face Immigration Obstacles

YERUSHALAYIM -

Over the past three years, 1,594 medical professionals have immigrated to Israel – most of them from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and France. Thirty-four percent are doctors, 20 percent nurses, 18 percent psychologists, and 8 percent dentists.

Nevertheless, many of them complain of bureaucratic obstacles to obtaining certification for work in Israel, obstacles put up by the Health Ministry. Some attribute this to a desire to protect the jobs of Israelis, and not to any professional considerations.

The chairman of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee, MK Avraham Nauguisa (Likud), said on Tuesday that “many of the immigrants are required to undergo an overly long process, which causes some of them to leave the country. We have to remove barriers in order to make the process easier.”

MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) noted that 68 percent of the medical immigrants are required to take an Israeli exam and do not pass the first time.

Dr. David Tibi, a French surgeon with 20 years experience, told the committee that he failed the Israeli exam twice because he was tested on subject areas that he had not studied since medical school days, and not, as he had requested, on his area of specialty, which is transplants.

“The prime minister calls on the Jews of France to come to Israel–but at the same time, when they do come, they face employment and administrative hurdles that are no simple matter,” Elharrar said.

Other committee members also bemoaned the difficulties that new immigrants must contend with, despite years of promises by Israeli government officials to do something.

MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) pointed out that the children of the immigrants also suffer, as reflected in an alarming dropout rate from Israeli schools.

Mark Eisenberg, the chairman of the umbrella organization of the French immigrants, testified regarding their plan for 50,000 immigrants from France to Israel, but he stressed that the Health Ministry must ease the testing regime.