French and Israeli medical professionals at an Olim Medical Conference last week in Raanana..
(photo credit: DROR SITAHKOL)
Dr. Jessie Aouizerate, a 34 year-old nephrologist from France, spent a week in Israel recently looking into employment options.
Living in Paris, she began thinking about making Aliyah after the series of terrorist attacks that hit the city these last two years.
"During the Bataclan theatre attack I was on shift at the hospital and treated the injured," she recalled. "This caused me to decide to change something in my life."
Aouizerate is one of a growing number of French medical professionals seeking to make Aliya to Israel.
"This week I met with senior people in one of Israel's Hospitals to see if they could offer me a job. I began studying Hebrew and would like to live in Tel Aviv," she said.
In 2016, a record number of 151 physicians and nurses from France have shown an interest in coming to Israel and working in their professions. Another 56 have already made Aliyah and hope to find employment in hospitals and other positions in healthcare system.
The high level of interest among French Jews has become evident by the large number of applications to a new initiative, “Olim Medical,” which aims to promote the absorption of physicians from France in Israel.
The initiative is operated by Gvahim, a subsidiary association of the Rashi Foundation, in cooperation with AAEGE – the association of alumni of French-speaking academic institutes.
It was tailor-made for immigrants in medical professions such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists and paramedical professionals, and offers assistance in the licensing process, placement support, mentoring and networking opportunities.
"Aliya and integration of medical professionals in Israel is a win-win situation: the new immigrants find employment in their field, and the Israeli health system benefits from an influx of much-needed human capital,” Gali Shahar, director of Gvahim said.
The initiative is also supported by the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee of the Knesset, the Health Ministry, the Israeli Medical Association, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, the Jewish Agency, Qualita, the Rashi Foundation and the Adelis Foundation.
These partners have joined forces for the first time to assist the integration of Olim in Israel's healthcare sector and address its urgent need for qualified professionals.
“In order for this to succeed, it is important not only to encourage Jewish physicians to make Aliya, but also to provide the support they need and accompany them through the absorption process. Our experience so far is cause for optimism with regard to Israel's ability to attract these professionals and absorb them in cooperation between all the relevant parties," Shahar added.
To date the number of applications in only seven months was 300% higher than expected, according to Gvahim.
Among the applicants there were 162 physicians (60% specialists and 40% general and family physicians), 36 nurses and 29 residents who wanted to complete their studies in Israel. Of the physicians and nurses, 59% need assistance in finding employment, 49% asked for help with the licensing procedures and 19% are in contact with the medical community in Israel.