During years 2002-2010, 180 doctors made aliyah from the US, Canada and the UK. In 2011, the Brookdale Institute for applied social research conducted a study on policy and services within the medical field, focusing on doctors who made aliyah from the US during that timespan. The objective was to learn about their absorption into the workforce and examine their experience as doctors in the Israeli healthcare system, as opposed to the American system.
Doctors launch general strike
The study included 22 doctors. Most had been working within their fields of specialization for over 12 years, prior to coming to Israel. The doctors were asked what they considered to be the weak and strong points of the Israeli and American healthcare systems, and what their personal experience had been as doctors going through the aliyah process.
Israeli hospital (Archives) Photo: Hila Spak and Roee Idan
Researchers liana Meirowitz Nelson and Bruce Rosen emphasized that most of the doctors spoke with great appreciation for the level of medical care in Israel, but some were disappointed. Most said that the motivation to provide high quality service within the public healthcare system was especially low, because a doctor could earn much more in the private sector.
Many expressed frustration with the fact that their colleagues waited for the end of the day so they could go work at their private clinics. Yet at the same time, most also praised the full coverage afforded by the National Health Insurance Law.
Most of the doctors who had immigrated to Israel were not satisfied with their level of earnings, and defined them as between “bad” and “horrible.” According to the study, most of the doctors said they are earning from between a third, to half of what they earned in the US.
Only 5% of doctors surveyed earned less than $50,000 per year in the US, while 50% of the doctors were earning less than $50,000 per year while in Israel.
Seventy-seven percent of the doctors said that their US salaries had been enough to make ends meet, while in Israel only 14% felt the same. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said that their salaries in Israel were not enough to lead their day-to-day lives.
Most of the doctors agreed that “it is possible to live off of the salary, but it is low.” Some of the respondents said that the low salary was taking its toll on their families.
Another point that caused some frustration was the bureaucracy within the healthcare system, especially the long licensing process required by the Health Ministry.
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