After receiving thousands of applications from foreign doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel – Jews and non-Jews – living abroad to come and help out in the hospitals and clinics, the Health Ministry has decided to allow many to come even though they now lack an Israeli license.
Until now, foreign medical professionals have been prevented from treating patients in Israeli medical institutions unless they go through the laborious process of obtaining an Israeli license.
The ministry stressed that the health system is currently prepared with the required manpower, but it is preparing for a situation where an additional burden will be created on the health system due to extreme and unexpected events. Therefore, and in light of the ongoing security situation in Israel, it has set up a volunteer system under national control. The ministry calls on any non-Israeli who wants to volunteer, including auxiliary medical staffers from around the world, to join a growing community of Israel supporters and apply for a temporary license.
The professionals who would be especially welcome for volunteering are physicians, dentists, nurses and nursing students, paramedics, clinical dietitians, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists, pharmacists, and physician assistants who are licensed to practice the profession in Israel or abroad
Israeli volunteers who are not medical professionals, and who want to assist in the health system's effort to serve everyone who needs medical assistance can help with various needs such as administration, logistics, transportation, and more.
How can I volunteer?
Those who wish to volunteer are required to fill out the appropriate online form, depending on their place of residence - in Israel or abroad, and the ministry will contact applicants who are deemed suitable according to the needs of the health system.
Among the many groups of professions is one in the US that is organizing international anesthesiologists to get ready to come if needed. The organizers said there is tremendous interest and they are filling out online Health Ministry forms.
Yigal Marcus, a financial executive and former New Jersey resident living in Israel, spoke with his medical siblings colleagues earlier this week about the need for additional medical personnel should the conflict escalate. His wife wrote a simple WhatsApp message to a small group of friends saying: “If you know any doctors or nurses who may be interested in volunteering, please be in touch with Yigal Marcus” – but that message went viral. Within 48 hours more than 5,300 people signed up on a secured database.
The list includes medical and non-medical volunteers from over 40 countries – including one from Saudi Arabia.
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Dr. Eliana Aaron, Marcus’s sister, a nurse practitioner, and founder of EMA Care, a medical-management and health-advocacy company in Israel. Her company is organizing the effort to help in conjunction with the Health Ministry in Jerusalem and the Israel Medical Association (IMA). “We currently have more than 5,300 names and the list, including medical specialists from Israel and around the world. They include internists, surgeons, therapists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, and more are continuing to sign up.”
Those with a valid license to practice medicine in Israel, the US, Canada, and the EU can sign up to volunteer. EMA Care is working with the health authorities to implement emergency procedures to expedite credential recognition and temporary emergency licensing. None of the information will be shared beyond the institutions and government bodies helping to expedite credentials.
“Just as we have done in the past, we are preparing for every contingency,” explained Leah Wapner, the IMA’s director-general “At the moment there is no need for volunteers from abroad but if there is, we will now be ready.”
The online form for professionals and volunteers from Israel is available in English at https://go.gov.il/intern-med-volunteer. It says that “in light of the ongoing situation in Israel, Israel’s Health Ministry is building a list of medical personnel from abroad to volunteer in Israel should the need arise. In the event of further strains on the health system, as well as in preparation for future natural or man-made disasters, we invite friends of Israel to add their names to our growing community of medical personnel who stand with Israel.”
Those who sign up for the opportunity to receive Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits in the future, train with Israeli teams, and connect with friends of Israel in their area.
CME credits are given for educational and other activities that serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public, or the profession. Doctors want them because some countries and US require a specified number of credits annually to maintain medical licenses and because most hospitals require a specified number of credits for their physicians to remain credentialed to see patients.