Professional Assessment of Senior Immigrant Physicians
N. Notzer, M.I. Zibziner, J. Shemer, M. Ravid
Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
Israel has absorbed many immigrant physicians and has utilized their skills without compromising local professional standards. In accordance with this policy a special law for the assessment of the licensing of senior immigrant physicians, mainly from the former Soviet Union, who had practiced medicine for at least 14 years was implemented in 1994.
Considering their considerable medical experience on the one hand and their lack of experience in speaking Hebrew or undergoing testing techniques, they were exempted from the written national licensing examination. Instead they were obliged to undergo a 6-month clinical observation period in a local hospital or clinic.
At the end of this period a letter of confirmation was issued which was followed by an oral assessment of their clinical ability. In the assessment session, each candidate was presented with written presentations of 4 typical clinical cases which practitioners encounter on a daily basis, in family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, and pediatrics or gerontology. Of 114 cases prepared, 4 were selected for each candidate by the committee of 13 trained, experienced Israeli physicians.
3 members of the committee assessed each candidate using specified criteria. The assessment, which lasted about an hour, focused on the candidates' professional knowledge involved in differential diagnosis and case management.
Of 497 candidates examined between 1994 and 1996, approximately 80% passed in their first attempt. However, about 30% of the invited candidates did not appear for the exam. Characteristics of successful candidates were being young and being among the seniors with the least clinical experience. Most had specialized in internal medicine and had completed their observation period in a non-academic hospital. There they had received somewhat more attention than those who had been in academic hospitals. Significantly, the successful candidates were more proficient in Hebrew than the unsuccessful candidates, and reported no special problems during the observation period.