New Immigrant, M.D.

The complexity of Aliyah for physicians

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Posted on: 
5 Mar 2016
New Immigrant, M.D.

A Jewish couple from Ukraine, Anton and Dafna (names changed) are both doctors. Well-educated and respected in their profession, they struggled with the decision to move to Israel. Although Israel has a superb reputation in the medical field, they were concerned about fitting in.


The Physicians Program works to ease the absorption of new immigrant doctors; it was this program that convinced Anton and Dafna to take the step of faith and make Aliyah. Upon arrival in Israel, new immigrant physicians and their families take up residence at an absorption center, where they study Hebrew, receive help preparing for the medical relicensing exam in Israel and are then assisted in finding employment.

“The first five months were spent at an intensive ulpan (language school), and then we participated in a course teaching us the necessary [medical] terminology in Hebrew, giving us a very important base to start practicing medicine in Israel,” Dafna explained. “Being in the absorption center with the help of the incredible staff made our integration to Israel simple and enabled me to spend my time studying for the upcoming exam, with almost no worries.”


The deficit in the medical field in Israel is a growing concern. Due to a convergence of factors, such as population increase, the retirement of immigrant physicians, and the current trend of trained professionals abandoning the field of medicine, Israel is anticipating a shortage of trained medical practitioners in the near future.

Doctors require a great deal of encouragement when it comes to the prospect of building their life anew in Israel, as the move constitutes a more considerable challenge than it does for the average newcomer. In addition to overcoming the initial hurdles of language acquisition and cultural adaptation, the Ministry of Health and the Israel Medical Association require that new immigrant physicians pass a relicensing exam before they begin practicing medicine in the country.

Immigration of Jewish physicians to Israel is a real win-win situation. While Israeli universities produce some 120 doctors annually, some 300 of doctors from abroad make Aliyah each year. The periphery needs doctors and participants are anxious to practice in Israel, with most of them interested in living in the periphery. The Physician Project provides new immigrant doctors with the opportunity they need for achievement, while allowing Israel to welcome the invaluable resource presented by newly licensed medical practitioners.


The program helps level the playing field for new immigrant doctors by providing them with the tools necessary for a successful absorption and subsequent career in Israel. The fact that an alarming 37% of test takers fail their initial attempt is highly disconcerting. The added burdens of financial obligations and general absorption responsibilities during the course of study only fuel the fire of pressure and anxiety.

Through in-depth Hebrew language study, a specialized course for learning field-related terminology in Hebrew, and a unique course to prepare newcomers for the Israeli medical relicensing exam, this project provides an effective solution for physicians who want to move their lives and careers to the Jewish homeland. Upon completion of this course, the number of physicians passing the test is over 90%.


“The program gave my family support in many different ways. The group support of the participants, the continual help and support of the staff, the professional studies preparing for the exam, and the living conditions have made this an incredibly positive experience,” Dafna said with excitement. “Without the Physicians Program I am not sure I would have had the courage to come [to Israel] and am sure that I would not be in the position I am today – safe, secure and happy in my new homeland.”

In the past year this Physicians Program had 130 Olim (new immigrant) doctors who went through the courses, and 97% of them passed the medical exam on first attempt. All of them then joined the workforce in Israel, having immediately found employment in areas of their choice. Our goal at ICEJ is to sponsor more physicians coming to Israel, to produce a high rate of success among beneficiaries taking medical relicensing exams in Israel. A blessing to them, it will also turn into a blessing for the whole nation, as they close the growing deficit of doctors in the country.


Join the ICEJ and sponsor the absorption of new immigrants in Israel. You can donate at


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