Israel's government has approved a new initiative to attract doctors, nurses and other medical staff to the country amid a shortage of medical professionals, Haaretz reports.
Medical staff shortages over the last few years have caused shift times to lengthen, which has medical interns and residents threatening to quit en masse if their shifts aren't reduced, but the government asserts that cutting shifts will lead hospitals to be understaffed.
This shortage is expected to worsen in the next few years, as the generation of doctors who came to Israel after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s begins to retire.
The initiative will fast-track training and job opportunities for Jewish medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and lab technicians, who emigrate to the country under its Law of Return.
Israel recently established an online platform in multiple widely spoken languages worldwide, including English, Spanish, French and Russian, where immigrants can apply for licenses in medical professions before they arrive in the country.
''This decision will help bring thousands of doctors, nurses and paramedical professionals who live abroad and want to immigrate to Israel, while also helping to alleviate the workload of the interns in hospitals,'' said Pnina Tamano-Shata, Israel's minister of immigration and absorption and one of the proponents of the plan, along with the ministries of health and finance.
The Aliyah and Integration Ministry said in a statement that it will ''examine the operation of advanced Hebrew courses for practitioners of medical professions in their country of origin, in order to shorten the procedures for obtaining a license to practice their profession in Israel.''
Dov Maimon, a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem, described the move as a ''win-win,'' and said that other such programs trying to fill ''high-end'' positions in areas where Israel lacks qualified professionals, such as medicine and engineering, is what Israel should focus on when it comes to immigration.
He added that ''right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, even Jews who want to come to Israel are afraid to move — because they're afraid to lose what they have. They don't want to leave a place where they have a job and go somewhere where they won't be able to find one or be qualified to work in their field.
''It's crucial that Israel puts these immigrants on track to succeed, and doesn't put them in a position where they immigrate, stay for a year, lose all of their money waiting to be certified and end up returning home,'' Maimon said.
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