Physicians from North America and the UK represent a valuable resource for the State of Israel, which is expecting to experience a shortage of doctors in the upcoming years, due to a convergence of factors such as population increase and the retirement of immigrant doctors (from the former USSR). The Israeli Medical Association (IMA) has released an English-language guide to becoming a physician in Israel, which can be found here.
Disclaimer: Misrad Habriut regulations are subject to change. For the most current information regarding licensing procedures, please see theMisrad Habriut site. Nefesh B’Nefesh does not take responsibility for inaccuracies on the site or changes to the law.
For a listing of updated links to the Misrad Habriut site, please see Licensing for Health Professionals: Links
- Apply for medical licensing through Misrad Habriut (Ministry of Health).
- Apply for board certification through the Moetza HaMada’it (Scientific Council) of the Israel Medical Association.
All doctors will be required to take a Hebrew proficiency test as part of the licensing process.
Misrad Habriut has started a pilot program, whereby potential Olim can begin the licensing process prior to making Aliyah. In order to qualify for this program, applicants must have Aliyah approval from The Jewish Agency for Israel. It is important to note that your documents must still be translated and notarized by an Israeli notary in Israel. If you visit Israel prior to your Aliyah, this is a good opportunity to have your documents authorized by an Israeli notary and even submitted to Misrad Habriut. Your medical license can only be issued after you issue a Teudat Zehut and submit a notarized copy of it to Misrad Habriut.
Note about Osteopathy: While the field of osteopathy is currently not regulated in Israel, if you have a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, you can be licensed by Misrad Habriut as a physician.
- If you make Aliyah before completing one year of internship, you will be required to take a medical licensing exam in order to be eligible to enter the Israeli staj program. If you have completed USMLE step 1 and step 2 CK you will be exempt from the exam.
- All other physicians who hold a recognized foreign MD and have completed a recognized internship, will be exempt from the Israeli licensing exam – provided they passed all sections of the USMLE.
- Sackler students and graduates of foreign medical programs in Israel who completed an internship outside of Israel are also required to take the medical exam. If they have completed a residency and are recognized as a specialist by the IMA, they are exempt.
- Please note that as of now the Israeli ministry of health does not recognize online degrees
Misrad Habriut now offers a new customer call center to answer questions about licensing for health care professionals. Call *5400 from Israel or 972-8-6241010 from abroad. The center operates Sunday through Thursday, 8am-6pm, and Fridays from 8am-1pm, Israel time.
Note: All documents must be translated and notarized by an Israeli notary in Israel. For each document that you submit, you will need to submit 1 notarized copy, plus a photocopy of that same document. (Please also make a photocopy of each notarized document for your files.) Do not submit any original files. See Notarization Services.
The following documents should be submitted to Misrad Habriut:
- 2 passport photos.
- 2 photocopies of your Teudat Zehut, including the address stub and/or photocopy of passport. (If you are applying pre-Aliyah, please submit a copy of your current passport together with your application to Misrad Habriut.)
- Final diploma from a recognized university or certification from a university of completion of studies, completion of all requirements for the university, and entitlement to a degree in medicine to be awarded on a certain date.
- Official confirmation of beginning and ending date of studies. Sometimes, this information appears on your diploma. If it does not, you can request a letter from your medical school indicating the start and end date of your studies.
- Official confirmation of successful completion of internship, including details about the departments in which the internship took place and the amount of time spent in each department. Alternatively, official confirmation of work in clinical medicine for at least one year.
- Medical license. Note: You cannot submit an expired license.
- Official work permits from the appropriate institutions, and notations regarding the start and end dates of work at each institution (in the relevant cases – a work card).
- Specialist’s certificate from abroad (in the relevant cases).
- Professional letter of good standing from the board of the state in which one is licensed. The letter confirms that there are no, and have not been any, disciplinary, negligence or professional ethics complaints against the physician. (This letter is issued from the board of the state in which one is licensed. If it is sent directly to Misrad Habriut from the board it does not have to be translated and notarized. Please ensure in this case, that the letter is sent only once the rest of the documents have been received by the Misrad Habriut.) Alternatively, You may have the letter of good standing sent to you. If you leave it in the sealed envelope- you can add it to the rest of the documents that you send in to the MOH- and you do not need to notarize and translate it. It may be a good idea to ask the board for a copy of the letter- just to have. Physicians from the UK should ask for a letter of good standing to be sent by registered mail from the GMC directly to Misrad Habriut (the GMC will only mail it directly, and this is the only way to guarantee its arrival). Physicians from Montreal should obtain the letter from the College des Medicines du Quebec.
- An application form (you must submit 3 copies): Medical Licensing – Questionnaire. The form is available online on the MisradHabriut site (Hebrew only). For an unofficial translation of the Hebrew questionnaire, please click here: Translated Document- Questionnaire for MOH
- A request to take the licensing exam (you must submit 3 copies). You need to submit this form even if you are exempt from the exam. The form is available online (Hebrew only) on the Misrad Habriut site. Note: For individuals who are required to take the exam, information about exam dates is also available online. Medical Licensing – Request for Exam
- If you are a UK physician and only studied for 5 years of medical school, you must provide a copy of your high school diploma and an explanation of why your studies were shorter than usual.
- Documentation indicating name change, if relevant.
- Letter from the Moetza Hamadait, if you have already been accepted as a specialist.
Please have your USMILE and ‘Letter of Good Standing’ sent to the Ministry of Health after you have sent in your translated/notarized packet to be certain that you have an open file with the MOH and that these documents will be included (if they arrive prior to your packet they may get lost).
It should be noted that some of the documents listed above are only valid for one year from their issuing date. If you have not submitted your Teudat Zehut (ID) within a year from opening your file with the Misrad Habriut, you may be required to present valid, re-issued documents in order to request your temporary license.
Please note: It is now possible to apply to the Ministry of Health Pre Aliyah. It is also possible to take the licensing exam as a tourist. For more information, please see the following article: Start your Licensing Before Aliyah.
Misrad Habriut now offers a new customer call center to answer questions about licensing for health care professionals. Call *5400 from Israel or 972-8-6241010 from abroad. The center operates Sunday through Thursday, 8am-6pm, and Fridays from 8am-1pm, Israel time.
Local Misrad habriut offices are no longer open. All applicants should submit all of your licensing documentation to Misrad Habriut via registered mail to: Licensing department, Ministry of Health, Yermiyahu 39, Jerusalem, 9446724.
When you first arrive as an Oleh, you should submit all of your licensing documentation to MisradHabriut. See the section above for required documentation and details.
Specialty recognition is a separate process from the general medical licensing procedure, which is done through the Ministry of Health (Misrad Habriut).
It is important to submit your documents to the Scientific Council before your Aliyah. Once the Scientific Council receives and processes your documents, they will send you a letter explaining what you need to do in order to be qualified as a specialist. The advantage of doing this pre-Aliyah is:
- You will know beforehand how long you will need to wait in order to be recognized in your specialty in Israel.
- This shortens the licensing process because it eliminates many months of waiting for an answer from the Scientific Council after you receive your general medical license.
The documents that should be presented are the following:
- A copy of the MD diploma.
- A copy of the Board Certification / Specialty Certification.
- A copy of the documents attesting to clinical experience since receiving the MD diploma – including internship and residency training and additional experience as a specialist.
- A copy of the documents attesting to examinations taken. Note: Physicians who took the American boards are not required to provide this certification.
- A copy of a license to practice medicine in Israel (if already exists).
- A detailed CV (Curriculum Vitae) including details of specialty training. Be sure to note any hospital affiliation that you have, following your residency. Your training will be compared to the Israeli syllabus, therefore, it is important to build your CV in a manner that is maximally parallel to the Israeli equivalent.
- A physician who has recently worked for a period of time in a recognized department in Israel should present a letter of recommendation from the Head of Department.
- A physician who has already been accepted to a hospital department in Israel will state this in his or her application.
- For the surgical specialties, anesthetics, ENT, ophthalmology and obstetrics & gynecology, list surgeries done during the residency, and if the residency was done many years ago, provide a list of operations/procedures from the five years prior to your Aliyah.
- Psychiatrists and family doctors must fill out a form that is linked to from the following page:http://www.ima.org.il/mitmachim/web/category.asp?catid=343
- One photograph.
- All documents may be presented in Hebrew or in English. Note: For other languages, please attach a translation; only translations of documents in 1,2,3 and 4 need to be notarized. (In contrast to Misrad Habriut requirement, a U.S. notary is permitted.)
Please send documents to: The Scientific Council, Israel Medical Association,35 Jabotinsky St. (Twin Towers 2), POB: 3566 Ramat Gan 52136, attention Florina Misyuk. You can also contact Florina at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 03-610-0466 or fax: 03-751-6933.
Note: Documents that are sent ONLY by fax will not be processed; the documents should also be sent by mail.
The Specialty Committee can take two or three months to meet and evaluate credentials. If the Scientific Council decides not to recognize the specialty immediately, it may ask for more course work, an extension of the residency (“Hitmachut“), or exams. This is up to the committee and each applicant must be in direct contact with the Council to discuss his/her case individually. The Council also requires that a specialist fulfill an adaptation period (“Hatama,” commonly known as Tkufat Histaklut”) in a recognized department in Israel and present a letter of recommendation from the head of department or clinic in order for it to grant a specialty license. The adaptation period is usually 1 to 6 months long. Make sure the place of your Hatama (Histaklut) is approved by the IMA. Hatama completed at an unapproved department will not be recognized. Check here for a list of approved departments (Hebrew): www.ima.org.il/MainSite/Departments/Default.aspx
Although you can work as a specialist in the U.S. without passing the American boards, experience has shown that those who have not passed American Board Certification may have a difficult time receiving IMA recognition. It is strongly recommended to pass the American Boards before making Aliyah.
In many specialties the Israeli residency period is 12-18 months longer than the residency periods abroad. We highly recommend working in a hospital following your residency, because this can be counted towards the residency period in Israel. In addition, if you are working in private practice but maintain a part-time affiliation with a hospital, this might also be counted towards your Israeli residency period.
Misrad Haklita pays the hospital your salary during Hatama (Histaklut). In order for the Misrad Haklita to pay your salary during your period of Histaklut you must submit the following form to the HR department of your hospital: טופס 554. Misrad Haklita will not pay your Hatama salary if you begin the adaptation period while still receiving Sal Klita payments. In order to receive both your Sal Klita and your salary, you will need to submit an appeal to MisradHaklita. For more information, please contact your Misrad Haklita counselor.
- Family physicians (and in certain cases psychiatrists) can do their Hatama period in a community clinic. Please contact the IMA for more information.
- The Scientific Council’s decision regarding Hatama is valid for five years. If you made Aliyah five years after receiving your letter about your Hatama, you will need to submit a new application to the IMA.
- Please note that it is possible to complete the Hatama period under a limited license (given to tourists who are interested in exploring the Israeli medical system prior to Aliyah).
Once you finish your Hatama, submit the following forms to the Moetza Mada’it (IMA) in order to be recognized as a specialist:
- A signed letter from the head of the department (where you did your Hatama) stating that you have completed your Hatama. Please make sure the beginning and end dates of your Hatama period are mentioned in the letter.
- A form asking to be recognized as a specialist. To print the form, click here.
- Payment for recognition of your specialty. For details, click here. If you need further assistance, call 03-610-0444.
- A photocopy of your license from Misrad Habriut.
In order to receive your permanent license, you must mail the following to Misrad Habriut:
- Original temporary license
- Letter from an employer who is a specialist, indicating that you worked for a period of at least 1 year. See חוות דעת מקצועית לקראת קבלת רשיוןקבוע:http://www.health.gov.il/DocLib/a3466_L250309.doc
You must submit these documents to Misrad Habriut at least eight weeks before your temporary license expires. The cost for issuing a permanent medical license is 786 NIS. Payment can be made online: Misrad Habriut Online Payment.
If you would like to extend your temporary license (if you have not yet worked for 12 months in Israel), you must submit your original temporary license.
Obtaining a Police Statement: Misrad Habriut will need to get an Ishur Bidvar He’eder Rishum Plili(police statement regarding your lack of a criminal record) from the Israeli Police. To expedite this process, some Olim have received this letter on their own initiative, by requesting it directly from their local police stations, and this has shortened the licensing process. In some cities, you will first need to pay 32 NIS at the post office prior to going to the local police station. (Ask to pay for an Ishur BidvarHe’eder Rishum Plili.) Bring the receipt to the police station. Once you obtain this letter, it is best to mail it directly toMisrad Habriut with your other licensing forms.
The Ministry of Health does not send a reminder indicating that your licensing is going to expire soon. As soon as you receive your license, please mark your calendar 12 weeks before the expiration date so that you can receive your renewed license before the old one expires.
When renewing a medical license (permanent or temporary)- please make sure to send in original license. When applying to extend or renew a license, please make sure to send it in at least 2 months prior to expiration, as the renewal process does take time.
The following documents must be submitted to Misrad HaBriut, in order to receive permission to take the entrance exam for Stage (internship). Stage placement is determined by lottery. For more information and updates, see the Misrad Habriut website: http://www.health.gov.il/pages/default.asp?pageid=2362&parentid=2262&catid=306&maincat=4 (Scroll down to view information for physicians from abroad.)
- 2 passport photos.
- 2 photocopies of your Teudat Zehut, including the address stub. (If you are a tourist, please submit 2 photocopies of your passport with valid authorization for living in Israel.)
- Official confirmation of start and end date of studies. Often, this information appears on your diploma or transcript. If not, you can request a letter from your medical school indicating your start and end date.
- Final diploma from a recognized university (or certification from a university regarding completion of studies, completion of all requirements for the university, and entitlement to a degree in medicine to be awarded on a certain date).
- Fill out two copies of each of the following forms. A photocopy is not sufficient. Forms must be written in Hebrew:
1. בקשה להבחן
2. שאלון לעובדים מקצועיים בתחום הבריאות
All English documents must be translated and notarized.
Students who graduated from Sackler and other U.S. schools in Israel will be required to provide different documentation.
Contacts at Misrad Habriut: Yona 03-670-5993 and Yehudit: 02-670-5842.
Once you submit the application to Misrad Habriut and get permission to take the exam, the exam itself is administered by the Moetza Hamadait (Scientific Council of the Israeli Medical Association): 03-610-0444 or 03-610-0419.
A Misrad Haklita subsidy is available for the first two years of Hitmachut (specialization). The subsidy covers up to 50% of your salary during this period (but not more than 7,390 NIS per month). Note: This subsidy is available for no more than 24 physicians per year, and is dependent on the availability of government funding.
IMA – The Histadrut HaRefuit B’Yisrael
Twin Tower 2, Jabotinsky 35, POB 3566
Ramat Gan 52136
Tel: 03 610 0444;
Fax: 03 575 3303
Dentists who make Aliyah before their 30th birthday will be required to serve in the army for eighteen months. As permanent army staff (Keva), dentists will receive a salary and various benefits.
- Doctors will go through basic training and then they will join a 3.5 month preparatory program to get to know the army medical system. Depend on their Hebrew level, the army will decide if they need an Ulpan. This will leave them 14 months to serve as doctors in the army.
- Almost all doctors will serve as battalion doctors (in army bases and not in clinics), and will be giving general medical treatment.
- Doctors will only join the officers’ course if they wish to continue serving beyond the 18 months.
Physicians to which the above applies, will be asked to do Milu’im (serve in the reserves) until the age of 43. You will be paid a salary during this time. Regardless of your age, all physicians should be in touch with Nefesh B’Nefesh regarding the possibility of IDF service (The IDF may change the age limit at any time).
The army is entitled to draft you after six months. You are allowed to defer the service for up to twenty-four months from your Aliyah date. If you are asked to serve before the six month period, you are asked to sign a waiver – and it is your right to refuse.
Physicians who are married with children (men) are still required to serve in the army. At present, all women who are physicians are exempt from service. If a female doctor wishes to serve, she will need to sign a special declaration.
For more information about army service, see Army Service – Length of Service for Men and Women. You can be in touch with the army directly by contacting Major Sivan Shay, email@example.com, 052-946-3742, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Completing a Residency While in the Army
The army allows physicians to do their residency while serving. However, that can only be done after completing two significant combat roles. The following residencies are approved: family, psychiatry, public health, and occupational medicine.
Serving as a Specialist
Physicians can serve as a specialist in their field only after completing their first tour as a battalion doctor.
Salaries in the Army
For the first 18 months, the salary is around 15,000 NIS. Physicians who wish to serve more than 18 months will receive a better salary.
Salaries and conditions of employment between the various Kupot Cholim (health funds) vary. You might need to “shop around” to work out the best package.
In some Israeli banks, doctors receive special discounts and services, which may include lower fees and favorable loan terms.
Specialties in Demand
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.
Working for U.S. Employers
Due to the advent of tele-radiology, radiology is one of the most in-demand and lucrative medical professions for North American Olim. Hospitals in the US will hire an Israeli radiologist (provided they have a U.S. license) and pay them to work the U.S. night shift.
Each of the four health funds, Meuchedet, Macabbi, Clalit and Leumit has branches throughout the country. The differences between the health funds lie mainly in the location of their facilities, the types of supplemental policies offered, and additional services offered within the framework of their facilities. Most large cities have a clinic in almost every district. Each fund has its own method of payment and reimbursement policy. Reimbursement is generally on a quarterly basis, and payment is based on the number of patients seen each quarter, but not, however, according to the number of each patient’s visits. Each fund has its own method of keeping track of patients, and at the beginning of each quarter, the doctor submits a list of patients seen in the previous quarter. The funds try to pay the doctor on a monthly, rather than a quarterly basis, with salaries readjusted in order to compensate for varying numbers of patients.
Many physicians work as Atzma’im, independent contractors rather than salaried employees. Therefore, it is recommended to speak to an accountant before accepting a new job offer.
Many physicians combine working in the Kupot Cholim (health clinics) with work in a hospital. While salaries in the Kupot Cholim may be higher, hospitals offer a chance to work in a supportive environment with professional colleagues.
Health funds cover hospitalization costs for their members. Conditions vary from hospital to hospital. Physicians employed directly by a hospital receive a standard pay according to seniority and specialty, supplemented by such items such as overtime and pensions.
For a listing of Israeli hospitals, click here.
Immediate Care Clinics – TEREM
In addition to working for the Kupot or hospitals, another potential place of employment is TEREM. Terem has a network of urgent and immediate care clinics, in and around the Jerusalem area (including branches in Bet Shemesh, Modi’in and Ma’ale Adumim). In many ways, it functions as an ER, but separate from a hospital setting. Terem has a long history of employing oleh doctors, and is particularly keen to employ doctors with an anglo background. You do not necessarily need to have a background in ER work (although this is desirable), and Terem employs family and general doctors, pediatricians, orthopedists, gynecologists, internal medicine and more. For more details, please contact Daniel Lipczer (Personnel Manager) on 02-652-1748 or email@example.com.
Anyone who holds a medical license is entitled to open a private practice and set fees as they see fit. When you have a private practice you can see patients on a strictly private basis, or you can receive members of health funds and then be reimbursed by the funds. There are many practices that combine the two.
However, it is possible for non-citizens to obtain limited licensing, designed for individuals who are licensed as physicians outside of Israel and want to volunteer in Israeli hospitals or work in Israel temporarily.
The following original documents must be submitted to the hospital where you intend to work. These forms must be presented in hardcopy form (no e-mails).
- Board certification
These documents will be forwarded by the hospital to Misrad Habriut where they will be processed (including translation into Hebrew). Once approved, Misrad Habriut will deliver to the relevant hospital a “Limited License”.
Please provide us with a brief description of your work.
Currently I work one day a week in a local medical clinic in meuchedet in Beit Shemesh. Other days, I’m Global Director of Women’s Health in Teva Pharmaceuticals. I am responsible for helping develop medicine for women all around the globe.
What job did you take upon your Aliyah to Israel?/ How did you find your job?
I worked as a doctor in a couple of hospitals. Word of mouth.
What do you, as a doctor bring to “the table” in the world of pharmaceuticals?
Having treated patients, and prescribed medicines, I know what is important and what comes into the equation when having the discussions with patients, which side effects resonate with them. I understand the unmet need and how to quantify it, additionally I understand that in today’s pressing medical world of shrinking time spent with patients it will take a considerable amount of innovation to actually change the treatment paradigm.
You went back to study for your MBA. Why is that an important degree to have (as you have switched career paths somewhat)?
I began to study for my MBA while I was in the US prior to Aliyah. It was clear to me that the practice of medicine was changing in the US and I wanted to adapt my skill set to allow me the opportunity to evolve into adjacent areas within medicine. Clearly after we made Aliyah the MBA was very helpful to help open doors and begin conversations as I was interviewing. It affords me additional roles I can be suitable for.
What experience do you need to get into your field?
Medical school, residency, private practice on Long Island for years
What is the job market like in Israel?
Very competitive. Rewarding because you are appreciated.
In what way is the job market competitive-Are there too many qualified applicants, are there too few positions or are the companies just choosy?
There are very few big pharma jobs in this area, save for Teva. There are plenty of start-up midsize pharma development positions, but for these roles, experience is essential.
Do you need Hebrew to work in your field in Israel?
What documents do you need in order to practice?
Medical license, training…you can probably find out more through Nefesh B’Nefesh.
Advice for people making Aliya
Keep options open and redefine your goals. In other words, redefine what defines you.
What does it mean to “redefine you”-In what ways does someone have to be flexible when looking for work in Israel? Is it more than being open to a different career path?
As a physician, I spent 24 years in school to practice medicine. Life’s circumstances brought us to Israel and to succeed here in this very competitive field of medicine; after I had already struggled to build up a reputation in the US to have to go and do it again in a country where Hebrew was my second language was very challenging. I was placed in a position where I had to decide, to continue to practice medicine full time and face these challenges, or to redefine myself in a non-patient facing aspect of medicine in pharma development. This also afforded me a great opportunity that would not have been available to me had I stayed in medicine.
How does the field of medicine differ here in the Israel from in the US? How should a doctor coming on Aliyah expect to have to adapt?
It is hard to break into the surgical subspecialties, despite what innovation and cutting edge techniques and technologies you may know. It is competitive. Building up a reputation is critical.
What are the benefits of working in the medical field?
It’s a very rewarding field to be in. It’s about providing health for people who appreciate it and its very useful, too.
More specifically, what are the benefits in working in the field of Biotech/Pharma?
There is a tremendous amount of innovation and start up spirit here, and being able to develop one’s own ideas or get started in any and every aspect of drug and device development is very exciting and provides tremendous opportunity.
Is there a professional organization in your field?
Israeli Medical Society.
What is the salary range?
20-40,000 per month.
How do you feel about working and living here in Israel?
Wonderful and definitely the best choice I made.
Dr. Herman Weiss is Global Director of Women’s Health for Teva Pharmaceuticals, firstname.lastname@example.org