Masa Israel Journey, founded by the Jewish Agency and government of Israel, celebrated the arrival of over 100 certified doctors from six countries at the opening ceremony for the Masa Doctors program on November 15. The event, which took place at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, kicked off the 8-month program that prepares fellows for an exam through the Ministry of Health that functionally grants passing Fellows an Israeli medical license. The Fellows come from FSU countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Lithuania and more. Masa CEO Ofer Gutman and Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata were among the speakers at the event, with a special greeting by Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz.
“We’re thrilled to welcome all of you here, and we look forward to supporting you in your shared mission to practice medicine in Israel and support a world-leading healthcare system,” Masa CEO Ofer Gutman said. “In addition to strengthening connections within the Jewish world, you will have a tremendous impact in Israel, join a nation with state-of-the-art medical centers, and be at the forefront of innovation and medical advancement founded on the philosophy that all are entitled to superior treatment at an affordable cost. Israel and I welcome you, and we look forward to seeing your skills strengthen our nation. Welcome home.”
Over the past 13 years, the Masa Doctors program has brought almost 1,000 qualified doctors from different countries to Israel. Nearly 95% of Fellows on the Masa Doctors program make Aliyah each year, adding to the growing list of medical professionals Masa has assisted in joining Israel’s healthcare workforce. The program is made possible through collaboration between Masa, Rambam Hospital in Haifa, operated by Israel Experience, and Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, operated by The Tlalim Group.
One of the Masa Doctors who spoke at the ceremony was alum Nikolai Haiman, 31, from Ukraine. Nikolai and his wife both came to Israel on the program to pursue their dream of being licensed physicians in Israel. After passing the medical exam, both Nikolai and his wife made Aliyah, bringing their young child back to Israel where he worked as an infantry unit doctor. Today, he is a major in the IDF and is interning as an Anesthesiologist at Soroka Medical Center.
“The Masa Doctors program gives doctors the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and start a new path in the Israeli medical world. This program is the best option for an easy and swift integration into Israel and the Jewish community,” said Nikolai Haiman.
Nearly 90% of Fellows on the Masa Doctors program pass the medical exam and receive their license to practice in Israel, a passing rate that is nearly 15% higher than the average. While exam preparation is a key aspect of the program, Fellows will be immersed and supported in their Masa experience, including Hebrew classes, educational trips around Israel, and assistance with immigration integration. Provided they pass the end-of-program medical exam, Masa will assign Fellows to internships, fellowships, and many even take on roles in the IDF combat medic unit.
Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz said: “This important program gives a boost to the [Israeli] health system, and even this year, despite the coronavirus crisis, Masa demand has increased significantly. 95% of the participants in the Masa Doctors program have chosen to stay in Israel and join the public medical system. This is a very important initiative that works to strengthen our effort and boost manpower to deal with the healthcare system crisis including doctor shortages. We look forward to continuing this important collaboration, and my hope is that this program will only grow and expand. ”
At the ceremony launching the yearly program, Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Pnina Tamano-Shata stated: “Masa is one of the amazing programs that creates an incredible impact, strengthens the connection with Jews around the world, and supports those making Aliyah to Israel. The majority of participants on the Masa Doctors Program stay in Israel and turn into a sizable medical force strengthening the Israeli health system. Recently, I brought to government approval the decision that sets to increase the new Olim’s part in the medical and paramedic professions in the public health system. The pursuits that Masa initiates together with the opportunities that remove bureaucratic barriers will increase the potential Aliyah of Olim doctors coming to Israel, who will bring an enormous momentum to the economy.”
Masa also celebrated the expansion of the program into South America, with plans to bring at least 50 doctors on a Spanish-speaking program in 2022. Masa CEO Ofer Gutman expressed gratitude and hopes for future expansion with other countries in his remarks at the event.
“We offer our sincerest thanks to the government of Israel for supporting Masa’s programs throughout the pandemic, from keeping the skies open for Fellows to vaccinating them on arrival,” Gutman said. “With your support and the support of The Jewish Agency, we can continue improving and expanding our programs to reach every corner of the Jewish world.”
To learn more about the Masa Doctors program here, watch here.