Photo: Visual Photos
Only three doctors per 1000 people by 2016
Photo: Visual Photos

Is there a doctor in the house?

Faced with growing shortage of qualified physicians, Health Ministry recommends doubling number of med students by changing admission procedures

Israel is facing a possible shortage of qualified physicians, said a report given to the Health Ministry Wednesday.


The report recommended the immediate increase of medical students in universities from 400 to 600 a year.


Another recommendation is to train an additional 850 nurses every year.


"It takes seven years to fully train a physician and four to train a nurse, that is why we must take action now," said Gabi Ben Nun, deputy director general in the Health Ministry.


According to an interim report made by the Health Ministry's committee for future human resources in health, the number of doctors in Israel has been declining steadily since 1999.


Should this decline continue, the number of doctors in Israel, currently standing on 3.5 physicians per 1000 people, would reduce to 2.7 physicians per 1000 people in 2020.


Another report, which was done by the Council for Higher Education predicts that by 2016 the number physicians per 1000 people would go down to three.


Alarming numbers 

A shortage in nurses is also predicted. Nowadays, Israel has six nurses per 1000 people – a number considered low in comparison with other western countries.


Unless something is done, cautioned the report, an 18 percent decline in the number of nurses is expected by 2020.


This alarming report brought the Council for Higher Education to petition for the increase of the annual medical student quota to 600, without introducing a new medical school in Israel.


In 2006, 301 medical students graduated from Israeli medical schools. An additional 301 were given their physician's license based on their studies in medical schools abroad.


Some 393 medical students started their studies in 2006 and are expected to start working as doctors in 2014. "We see many qualified candidates," said Ben Nun. "We just have to be given additional funds so we can accept more of them into schools."


Ben Nun also thinks there is room for changing the admission procedures to "first come, first served".


The clear shortage in anesthesiologists, general surgeons and pathologists has prompted the Health Ministry to say it intends on segmenting the number of future physicians needed by specialties.


פרסום ראשון: 06.27.07, 11:13
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