A women speaks to a nurse (illustrative photo).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Registered nurses who immigrated to Israel recently and encountered difficulties in getting recognized for work here sent a protest on Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman.
“We came for Zionistic reasons and out of a desire to contribute to the state, but despite being trained in one of the best health systems in the Western world, the state raises difficulties and does not allow us to work in our profession,” they said in a statement.
The immigrants are demanding that the state reduce the bureaucratic barriers so they will be able to be integrated into the health system, which is suffering from a continuing shortage of registered nurses. The percentage of nurses employed in Israel is only 4.9 per 1,000, compared to 9.5 per 1,000 in the other OECD countries.
“This is an absurd situation,” said Miriam Lesser, deputy director-general of the Kalita Association, the umbrella organization of immigrants from France in Israel.
“Instead of actually checking their capabilities, the state forces them to pass an irrelevant test that does not check their training and experience over the years,” she said. “Is it logical that experienced registered nurses trained in France are not good enough for the Israeli health system, which is suffering from a massive shortage of manpower? The State of Israel invests so much in encouraging aliya, but once they arrive here, they are not allowed to work in their profession and thus they return to France. The State of Israel must find a solution to the existing situation, cancel the licensing test and allow them to be absorbed in Israel and earn a decent living in the profession they acquired. Everyone will benefit from it.”
The number of hours and the level of studies accumulated in French nursing schools, the nurses argue, are no less than what is required in Israeli nursing schools.
Elisabeth Ranassier, a registered nurse from France with 17 years of experience, does not work in her profession here because of the red tape.
“What is the difference between patients in France and in Israel?” she asked. “I accumulated much experience and practical knowledge there, but am forced to undergo a government test. I do not ask for discounts or favors; I just want to be allowed to work in my profession and earn a decent living.”
In 2015, the number of immigrants from France was an impressive 8,000, but it has dropped in the last two years by more than a third. The organization said that while many more Jews want to come, they understand that the country is not prepared to integrate large numbers and has not prepared a strategic plan to absorb tens of thousands of newcomers in an optimal way.
Finding work is difficult for many French Jews, Kalita said, and many are forced to make do with telemarketing, sales and other jobs beneath their qualifications. About 10% of new immigrants from France return during their first three years in the country.
Asked to comment, Health Ministry spokesman Eyal Basson said the “nursing administration worked hard to remove bureaucratic barriers for all nursing graduates from abroad, but one of its main tasks is to ensure the quality and safety of treatment” provided in Israel.
“As in other western countries, we administer state tests for graduates of nursing schools, and the process is accepted in many other countries, including the US, Canada, England, Australia and France to determine the abilities of all who want to be nurses here,” Basson said.
“Success in the licensing exams here varies according to many factors, including the training program and its scope, the role of the nurse and her responsibilities in the country of study,” he said.
“We are committed to ensuring that the answer is focused on improving the professional level, rather than adjusting to their professional requirements in their native countries, which could harm the public.”
He did not provide a specific explanation for the difficulties of the French nurses in passing the ministry exam.