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Thursday, January 17, 2013

If you're an American doctor, aliya just got easier

After nearly 65 years, the Knesset, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that maybe the United States knows how to educate doctors after all. American-trained physicians making aliya, including Israelis who study in the US and return here, will no longer have to take a notoriously difficult qualifying exam in order to receive a license to practice. The people in the picture at the top of the post have no connection (of which I am aware) to the story.
The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee voted Wednesday to exempt Israelis who studied medicine abroad, as well as immigrant physicians, from the Israeli medical licensing exam if they have passed the U.S. licensing exams.
The committee also approved the retroactive licensing of any physician who has passed the U.S. exam, the USMLE, during the past 10 years. However, the committee also ruled that candidates who failed the Israeli medical exam cannot take the USMLE instead.
“We are trying to make it easier for people who graduated medical school abroad as well as for new immigrants,” the director of the Health Ministry’s department of medical professions, Dr. Amir Shanun, told the committee. “The Israeli exam is the best, but there is an American exam of a suitable level and we believe it can be an alternative to the Israeli exam for people who graduated abroad.”
Committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud) said he would continue working toward easing the personnel shortage in the health-care professions.
Every year, Israeli medical schools produce 700 graduates and another 500 return from their studies abroad, mostly in Eastern Europe and Italy. But the two groups do not take the same licensing exam. There are two separate tests − one for students graduating from medical schools in Israel, which more than 80 percent pass, and the other for people who finished their medical studies abroad, which is considered much more difficult and only an average of 30 percent pass.
Those who studied abroad have long claimed that the harder exam constituted unwarranted discrimination, but for decades the health establishment insisted it was the only way to ensure that those who are licensed are truly qualified.
I can think of at least two doctors I know in the US for whom this exam was a major deterrent against making aliya. 

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