Employment of Immigrant Russian Physicians
JDC-Brookdale Institute of Gerontology and Human Development, Jerusalem
This study examined trends in the employment of immigrant physicians from the former Soviet Union. We studied the changes in the proportion of immigrants employed as physicians between 1994 and 1998, job characteristics, positions, professional status, and improvement in employment characteristics, professional status, and in wages due to increased seniority.
The study population consisted of 7,000 physicians who had immigrated to Israel by June 1992 and had applied to the Ministry of Health for medical licensing. Of these, 726 were interviewed in 1994 and in 1998 all 726 were again approached and 84% were interviewed by telephone.
Of those interviewed in 1998, 63% were working as physicians, 21% in another occupation, and 16% were not working at all. Of those with medical licenses, 79% were working as physicians. Of those interviewed in 1994, 93% were still employed as physicians in 1998, and 88% of them had been so employed continuously. As of 1998, 85% of those interviewed had 5 or more years seniority as physicians in Israel, and half had been working for more than 5 years at their current place of employment.
The best predictor-variable for employment as a physician in 1998 was employment as a physician in 1994. The proportions of those employed by a public employer, of those earning monthly salaries, and of those with a tenured position, were greater in 1998 than in 1994.
In 1998, 70% reported being employed in a authorized staff position. Funding for the salaries of 75% of these physicians came from the budget of their place of employment, not from a grant, stipend, or temporary fund for the assistance of immigrants. These proportions increased with seniority. The proportions of specialists (22%) and residents (37%) had increased in 1998 relative to 1994 (when they were 8% and 23% respectively). In addition, since 1994 gross hourly wages had increased with seniority in real terms by more than 100%.
These findings are evidence of work stability and improvement in employment conditions of these immigrant physicians. Further, the 1998 follow-up indicated a trend toward becoming "established" and improvement in professional status. However, it also revealed models of temporary employment, not in compliance with physicians' collective work agreements, a situation that warrants examination. It is also important to examine the implications of the absorption of so many physicians for medical manpower in Israel, and for overall expenditure on health.