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Jerusalem is getting a new academic nursing school - one especially for young religious women.
If it succeeds, a similar institution for male nurses - in high demand in the haredi community, which prefer that a nurse be of the same gender as the patient - will likely follow.
A school for male nurses would also help employ the growing number of haredi men who are entering the work force rather than remaining in yeshivot past their 20s.
The new school, to be part of Machon Tal of the Jerusalem College of Technology, was recently approved by the Council for Higher Education. The four-year program, to be headed by Haya Greenberg, currently director of the Health Ministry nursing division's department for accreditation and licensing, will offer a bachelor of science degree in nursing.
Although there is not yet a nursing shortage in most of the country, there is one in Jerusalem, where nurses have been fearful of going since the beginning of the second intifada in late 2000, even though the capital has been very quiet in the last couple of years.
However, Greenberger (who is going on leave from the ministry) said that within a decade, a shortage of nurses was expected around the country due to the ageing of the population and the retirement of numerous immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Due to operate out of Machon Tal's facilities in the Givat Shaul quarter, the nursing school will send students to hospitals in the capital, including the Hadassah University Medical Centers, Shaare Zedek Medical Center and the Kfar Shaul psychiatric hospital, for clinical training.
"The Health Ministry's policy is to ensure that a bachelor's degree is the entry level to nursing," Greenberg told The Jerusalem Post.
There are still seven nonacademic, three-year nursing schools in the country, but the trend is toward academic degrees.
JCT's Machon Lev in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood teaches engineering, marketing, computers and other subjects, along with religious studies, with its student body mostly young modern Orthodox men, but there is a special program for haredi men in the evening. Machon Tal, on a separate campus, teaches most of the same subjects to young religious women.
The nursing school hopes to admit around 40 students a year, who will require high marks in psychometric and matriculation exams and personal interviews, including one by a Machon Tal rabbi.
"If the program does well, we would also like to open another branch at Laniado Hospital in Netanya, which has a nonacademic nursing school for religious women," said Greenberger.