Doctors in Demand

For years there have been warnings of “a medical manpower crisis” and the need to train more physicians.

Dr. David Zlotnick 521 (photo credit: Jared Bernstein, courtesy Nefesh B’Nefesh)
Dr. David Zlotnick 521
(photo credit: Jared Bernstein, courtesy Nefesh B’Nefesh)
In July 2010, Israel’s Health Ministry issued a report warning of a growing shortage of doctors and nurses. The report called for immediate steps to remedy this situation.
However, this shortage was not breaking news. For years there have been warnings of “a medical manpower crisis” and the need to train more physicians. With the influx of medical personnel from the former Soviet Union in the ‘90’s and at the turn of the century, these dire warnings were held at bay. But now, with doctors and nurses aging and the small number of medical schools accepting a limited number of students, doctors are in demand.
Already in 2008, Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN), an organization that encourages and facilitates Aliyah from North America and England, was approached by the Legacy Heritage Fund to create special Aliyah incentives for doctors and nurses from western countries.
Nefesh B’Nefesh, who works in partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, launched the Physicians Aliyah program.
The program has seen unprecedented success, not only in bringing new physicians and medical professionals to Israel, but in providing guidance and assistance to manage initial hurdles, obtain licensing and find employment. Through a partnership with KKL and JNF-USA, NBN is also bringing physician Olim to Israel’s Northern and Southern communities in the periphery, such as Dr. Samuel Tobias, from Ohio, who recently opened the new Neurosurgery Dept.
at the Nahriya Government Medical Center, and Dr. Yoel Anouchi, also from Ohio, who will be joining the Dept. of Orthopedics at the Nahriya Government Medical Center.
NBN stresses that while there is a growing demand for physicians in general, there is a particularly strong need for specialists in such areas as family medicine, pediatrics, female gynecologists, geriatrics, radiology, internal medicine, nuclear medicine, anesthesiology, neonatology, nephrology, neurology, pathology, and surgery.
In a Jewish Week interview, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, founder and executive director of NBN said, “I’m happy to say that we have sponsored and facilitated the Aliyah of more than 220 doctors and 650 medical professionals since 2002. In fact, last year Nefesh B’Nefesh brought over 40 doctors on Aliyah who were eagerly absorbed into the Israeli medical system. This is yet further proof of the tangible and vital impact Western Olim make upon Israel.”
Dr. David Zlotnick is one of those doctors.
Making Aliyah from Montreal with his family in 2008, Zlotnick expected that being an emergency room physician would have an impact on Israelis, but he never expected his Aliyah to magnify that contribution so dramatically. Just five years after making Aliyah, Dr. Zlotnick finds that he isn’t just changing lives; he’s changing the system.
In fact, his work not only revolutionized emergency medicine in Jerusalem, it has expanded to the entire country - and beyond.
Making Aliyah with the assistance of NBN, Zlotnick found the process to be very smooth. But when he looked into professional opportunities Zlotnick discovered that his field, Emergentology, was virtually non-existent in Israel. Zlotnick felt that with his experience he could change things for the better, and he did.
“ER medicine in Israel is segmented,” he explains. “Instead of having ER doctors like in North America who can take care of everything, here they rely on specialists. If you have a fracture they get an orthopedist. If there is a heart problem, they bring a cardiologist. But it’s hard to effect change in hospitals. You need to change the way an entire society thinks.”
Recognizing that changing the hospital system would be a herculean task which would take years, Zlotnick set his sights on the closest thing to emergency medicine in Israel: the freestanding clinics of Terem. Working at Terem, Zlotnick wrote new protocols of care. Within a short period of time he created over 60 protocols that cover the majority of important diagnoses at Terem, and revolutionized the way Terem works.
In addition, Dr. Zlotnick led the new Terem clinic in Tel Aviv, the first of its kind in the region, and is moving Terem south. This success has led to interest from the Kenya government to help improve their medical services.
In a 2011 Myers-JDC-Brookdale Study, Immigrant Physicians: Healthcare Perceptions and Experiences of American Physicians Following Aliyah to Israel, carried out in cooperation with NBN, many physicians expressed gratitude to NBN for their help and several respondents said that as long as new immigrants followed NBNs instructions exactly, they should not have a tough time. Others referred to the financial assistance provided by NBN.
One physician, who made Aliyah in 2009 said, “I wouldn’t have done it without them (NBN).
The physician fellowship was crucial. I’m a young physician and didn’t have much to go on. I got all my good information through them and the financial help was necessary. Medical training in the US is a tremendous cost and the decision to make Aliyah has to take into account the prior costs of the medical training. They gave me all the contacts.”
Speaking about the impact he is having on Israel, Zlotnick points out, “Being in Israel is very important. Don’t underestimate what you can bring to this country. Don’t think ‘what can Israel do for me?’ rather, what can you can do for Israel. Israel is a young country and one person can really make a difference.”
The article was made possible with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh