Some 400 medical professionals attended the annual Nefesh B’Nefesh ‘MedEx’ event on March 19-20 in Teaneck, NJ where they received expedited processing as well as networked with Israeli medical professionals, employers, and on-site licensing officials. The event was geared towards those in the advanced stages of Aliyah as well as young professionals with more long-term goals.
120 physicians were in attendance in total and this year saw a marked age demographic shift in attendees with some 100 participants under the age of 35 with many still enrolled in medical school.
The event was split into two tracks, catering to anyone planning Aliyah within the next two years and those starting to consider their Aliyah options. The main MedEx track enabled medical professionals to start the Israeli medical licensing process by opening files with Israel’s Ministry of Health’s licensing representatives who were on site to review their individual cases. In addition, the participating physicians were able to meet with members of the Israeli Medical Association for their specialty recognition. There was also an Israeli notary present to authenticate their documents as well as networking/job interviews with numerous Israeli hospitals and medical facilities that were recruiting at MedEx.
The second track entitled “Taste of Medex” was geared for medical students and professionals, nursing students and physical therapists who are longer-term planners, seeking to learn about transferring their medical licenses, discovering medical and allied health careers in Israel, and network with potential employers and professionals from Israel to better understand their various options. There were a series of sessions and workshops offered in a variety of topics relevant for current and future medical professionals in Israel, including nursing, physicians and a special presentation by the Deputy Director General of Israel’s Health Ministry regarding emergency medical care that Israel provides in response to natural disasters.
In Israel’s periphery, there is a crucial need for medical professionals. Attending the event was Negev, Galilee and National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf, who promoted Israel’s north and south regions in order to attract health care workers.
Wasserlauf said, "The goal to increase the number of medical personnel, specifically in the Negev and Galilee regions is modern-day Zionism at work and will provide the shot in the arm the medical establishment in these communities need. This initiative also helps promote the quality of life and resilience in the periphery and that is one of my office's core issues. As such, we hope to provide opportunities for immigrants to be absorbed into strong communities that offer a myriad of employment options upon making Aliyah."
Tony Gelbart, Co-Founder and Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh said, “MedEx is an integral part of our Aliyah vision. It is not enough to simply help Olim move to Israel, we must make the journey as streamlined as possible. Through this in-person event in New Jersey, MedEx paves the way for medical professionals across North America to cut through bureaucracy in order to enable physicians and medical professionals to concentrate on building their professional and personal lives in Israel.”
In cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), and the Jewish National Fund-USA, alongside Israel’s Ministry of Health and the Israeli Medical Association, Nefesh B’Nefesh launched the MedEx stand-alone event to enable medical professionals to take major steps towards transferring their North American medical licenses before making Aliyah — all in person and in one dedicated location. This year’s event at the Glenpointe Marriott in Teaneck, N.J., offered that streamlined experience to physicians, nurses, dentists, physician assistants, podiatrists, psychologists, ophthalmologists, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, audiologists, dietitians/nutritionists, dental hygienists and medical laboratory professionals.
Addressing the current political rift dominating the headlines in Israel, the country’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, said, “We have members of both the coalition and the opposition here, both sides of the aisle, because when it comes to Aliyah, there are no sides or partisanship. No matter where you stand on Israel’s broad political spectrum, Jews returning home is something every Israeli strongly supports.”
Director-General of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, Avichai Kahana, added, “New immigrants coming to Israel serve as a strategic asset to the country.
This special conference bringing together medical professionals is an excellent example of such.
The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration supports olim day and night so that the complex process of getting their international medical license recognized will be easier. Currently the ministry assists immigrant doctors in a myriad of ways to help streamline the Aliyah process. In accordance with Minister of Aliyah and Integration Ofir Sofer's policy, and by working with Nefesh B’Nefesh, we will place a significant emphasis on increasing Aliyah from North America and strive to target those engaged in medical professions."
Also in attendance was MK Michael Biton, Chair of the Knesset's Negev - Galil Development Committee.
Since its inception, Nefesh B’Nefesh has assisted more than 840 physicians and 2,900 medical professionals with their Aliyah process. Most are now employed in hospitals, Israel’s health funds (HMOs), and the private sector.
Dr. Sefi Mendelovich, Deputy Director General of Israel’s Health Ministry, added, “Recently, the Ministry of Health has dedicated itself to addressing the shortage of doctors in the Israeli health system. Among other initiatives, we are working to bring some 600 doctors to Israel each year - which will triple the current number. This is a national undertaking of the utmost importance.”
Dr. Mendolovich also added that the Ministry of Health “hopes to recruit dozens of physician assistants - a new discipline within the Israeli medical system - and integrate them into Israel’s healthcare industry accordingly.”
MedEx participants had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Health’s Licensing Division, the Israeli Medical Association (IMA), local health funds (kupot cholim), and hospitals to obtain current, reliable, relevant information to assist with their Aliyah process.
Experts were on hand to discuss and facilitate the medical licensing process and to ensure a rapid transition into the Israeli medical workforce, as well as to provide professional networking opportunities, information regarding specialty recognition within Israel, and notarization of documentation.
Most importantly, leading Israeli health and medical institutions were able to interview qualified candidates for positions in the medical industry so that Olim can secure jobs even before they arrive in Israel.