To relieve pressure on hardworking registered nurses in hospitals and clinics
due to their growing shortage, the Health Ministry has established and
recognized a new medical profession – nurse assistants (NAs).
will begin in July 2012, giving would-be NAs the opportunity to study and
qualify, and medical institutions to adapt.
NAs will work directly with
and under the supervision of nurses, and have to undergo special training, Dr.
Shosh Riba, head of the ministry’s nursing administrations, said on Tuesday.
They must have completed 12 years of study (but do not need to have
matriculated) and a proven basic understanding of written and spoken Hebrew.
They must not have a criminal record or diseases that would endanger public
According to Riba, the study program of 500 hours will be offered
by nursing schools and recognized medical institutions; tuition will be NIS
5,623 and be updated annually. A final exam must be passed to get the official
NA certificate. Auxiliary staffers who want to upgrade their skills to become
NAs must meet all the demands of others applying for recognition.
the permitted duties of NAs will be measuring blood pressure, weight, fever,
heartbeat and oxygen saturation; taking urine from a catheter; washing, dressing
and undressing patients; feeding by mouth or through a gastric tube; putting
patients into a wheelchair; applying and removing bandages; accompanying
patients to procedures; filling out medical files and test forms; administrative
discharge of patients; and ordering and storing food and
Nursing students will be able to work as NAs if it can be
shown that they have received all the necessary training; such students will
also be able to take blood, perform fleet enemas and open sterile fields to help
The ministry hopes the new profession will take some
of the load off registered nurses, bring in a new source of manpower and provide
regular employment for nonacademics interested in working in a medical
Despite the growing shortage of doctors, however, the ministry
has not recognized the profession of physician assistants (PAs), who are
recognized in the US and many other countries as being able to perform many of
the duties of medical doctors.