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Making a Living

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Contents:
The Job Market
Hi-Tech
Nurse, Doctor, Dentist, Lawyer, Teacher, Accountant
Mechanic, Waiter, Salesman, Contractor
How to Get RN Certified in Israel
Relevant Links

The Job Market

The Israeli job market varies widely by sector.  Hi-tech job skills (computers, software, Internet, electronics) are in high demand and pay top shekel.  Service jobs (car repair, restaurant, sales, construction) are not easily found and pay poorly.  Professional jobs (nurse, doctor, dentist, lawyer, teacher, accountant) may have difficult local hurdles to overcome before being able to work.

Hi-Tech

Programmers, web specialists, electrical engineers, Israeli companies want you!  Experienced applicants can receive salaries in the top 15% of the country.  Even applicants right out of college can receive in the top 40% of the country.

Language is not a barrier to entry.  Even without knowing a word of Hebrew most companies will be interested.

If this is your profession you've got opportunities waiting for you in Israel.  Follow the link at the bottom (to Jobnet) to find your Israeli job today!

Nurse, Doctor, Dentist, Lawyer, Teacher, Accountant

Medical professionals must receive Israeli certification.  The certification process requires validation of credentials, a reasonable level of Hebrew proficiency and passing Israeli licensing exams (in Hebrew).  It can be difficult and take several years.

Lawyers who wish to practice Israeli law in Israel must also receive local certification.  Note that many Israeli companies require the services of American and European lawyers for doing business internationally.  In such a case it's the U.S. or European certification that counts.  A lawyer wishing to practice local law must have a reasonable level of Hebrew proficiency and perform an apprentice program with a local lawyer and pass the Israeli bar.  (However I believe they can take the bar in English.)

As with lawyers, an accountant can either provide local financial services or international financial services.  To provide local services they must get local certification.

Teachers are required to get an Israeli teaching certificate.  To get a certificate requires a 1-2 year program of courses and apprenticeship.

Mechanic, Waiter, Salesman, Contractor

Mechanics abound in Israel and they don't get paid well.  It would be difficult to make a living as an immigrant mechanic.

Same for a waiter.

To sell anything to Israelis requires an excellent understanding of Israeli culture.  Don't plan on making a living in sales without it.

Construction in Israel is booming.  However, the workers get paid poorly and are usually either foreigners (such as Romanians brought here on temporary work visas) or Arabs.  The business requires many inside contacts to tread through tricky bureaucracy.  To succeed in this business is almost impossible in Israel as an immigrant (my opinion).

How to Get Certified as an RN in Israel...

Here are step by step instructions by an American immigrant who arrived with RN nursing certification from the US...

This is an informal letter written on my experiences in obtaining RN licensure as a new immigrant as of October 1999.  I hold a Bachelor's in Nursing and am not familiar with LPN or non-Bachelor's RN Israeli licensure. Official information must be obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Health. The following information may be inapplicable or outdated by the time you read this.

First of all, I obtained my certification in Plastic Surgical nursing before my aliyah, and I think it was a good idea.  It helped open doors for me at a hospital and I have two interviews at private clinics.  Since working privately is really what makes more money in Israel, you might find that certification will set you apart.  In any nurse's magazine, you can find a form to order the ANCC listing of generalist certifications, plus look in your field for certification in your specialty. This has nothing to do with obtaining licensure in Israel but may be of value to you otherwise. You can also sit for these exams outside the USA, the ANCC does make this possible.

Now, I am going to give you a lot of information. Do not let it intimidate you. The process of RN licensure can be time consuming and frustrating, but if you know what to expect it can make it easier for you.

As of this writing, you must take the Israeli boards, in Hebrew, in order to work as an RN in Israel. They are offered twice a year, in October and April.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that a new immigrant can can request "zman nosefet" (extra time), meaning one extra hour, in taking the exam.  I got this allowance, in writing, a couple of weeks before I went into the exam, although the ministry of health claimed that your immigration certificate (teudat oleh) would be enough.  Better to get things in writing!

There are 180 questions on the exam, and you need a 60% to pass.  Registering for the exam costs NIS 135, which you pay upon receiving your invitation (hazmana) to take the test.  There are two parts to the exam, each being 2 or 2 1/2 hours long, not including the extra time (zman nosefet). The exam questions are only 1 - 1 1/2 sentences long, and I think they were pretty straightforward. They covered med/surg, psych, pediatrics, maternity, math problems, Israeli medical ethics, and some geriatrics.  The test was held at the Binyanei Ha-Uma in Jerusalem.

To receive your invitation, you must send in an application to the Ministry of Health so they can evaluate if you are qualified to take the Israeli boards.  Before aliyah you can get your basic paperwork together, but rules may change so you should regularly keep in touch with the Ministry of Health (Misrad HaBriut) in Israel to get updates on required paperwork.

As of Summer 1999, the paperwork you need is:

 

High School Diploma (I used my college diploma from the first college that I went to, as after I obtained my BA in Biology I went to a different University to get my BSN)

Official transcript from your school of nursing

Copy of  BSN diploma

Copy of RN license

Certificate of good conduct from your local police dept.  Do this well in advance of your aliyah date; it takes some time in the USA, as your request for this certificate must be notarized.

Official letter from your personel dept at your place of employment stating dates of employment

Letter of recommendation from all employers.  In my case I did not furnish the police report or letters of recommendation initially (I did not have them) and the Misrad HaBriut did not request them.  After they had done their initial check to see if my papers were in order, I ended up sending them anyway.  I only sent the recommendation from my most recent employer.  It is hours of education that is important, not hours of employment.  There are nurses that obtained their degree and made aliyah immediately, never having woked in the US. 

Official course descriptions and hours spent in class and clinical. The total number of hours must add up to 2500 as of this writing, for a BSN, but see below where I expand on this further.


After aliyah: xerox of Teudat Zehut and Teudat Oleh (unless you are a tourist).

KEEP COPIES OF EVERYTHING!

If  your college of nursing sends anything directly to the Misrad HaBriut, have them send it to you also!

Now, what they will do is check your documents to see if you are at all qualified to sit for the licensing exam.  They may come back to you and tell you to fetch more documentation even if you feel you have provided what they requested.  For example, one nurse was told to get official clarification from her college of nursing in the USA concerning the titles of her courses.  Her school had called maternity nursing "mother child nursing", and instead of using the title "Med/Surg nursing" her school had used "physiology".  She then had to call and write her nursing school and request that they clarify, in writing, with official stamps, what these titles referred to.  This meant a delay in her application.

The Misrad Habriut also may not screen your entire application at one time.  They may find one problem, tell you to get whatever paperwork needed to fix that one problem, then once you have sent in that particular clarifying paperwork, look at the rest of your documents and find yet another problem.  If they do tell you to go get more documents, ask them, "could you please check my entire file and tell me if there is anything else I should get now?"

Whenever you are on the phone in Israel, say "hello this is so and so, with whom am I speaking", before you begin asking questions.

Now, this is important.  After they go through what they consider to be an initial checking process, then they will ask for verification of number of hours spent in each class and clinical and course descriptions.  Apparently, the number of hours must add up to 2500 hours or more, as of this writing.  I understand the Misrad HaBriut does not make this number widely known.

The initial above mentioned checking process takes more than a month, not including time spent getting clarifications of additional documents as mentioned above.  Then you are asked for this second round of documents.  Their logic seems to be, first let us see if you are even qualified to be considered for candidacy to take the exam.  Then, once we see if you are qualified up to that minimum point, let us look more closely at your hours and course descriptions.

At this point, I received a form to send to my college of nursing for them to fill out and send back to the Misrad Habriut, detailing course descriptions and hours. Sending forms back and forth to the USA is time consuming.  The days were passing and still I could not take a terminology course as I did not yet have my invitation. To try to speed up the process, ask up front, "are there any forms that have to be filled out by my school of nursing or employer?"   If they deny it, ask, "what about the form in which the college of nursing fills out hours and course descriptions?"

So, send course descriptions and hours spent in clinical with your initial papers,  officially stamped.   It may help to have your school put it in a sealed envelope with more official stamps on the envelope to show you have not tampered with it.  (Israeli offices love official stamps).  

Have your nursing school send one directly to the Misrad HaBriut and keep one for yourself.  One BSN nurse I know additionally obtained a letter from her nursing school stating, "she has completed 2500 hours of course work at this college of nursing".  The 2500 hours includes classwork both in nursing and liberal arts, as well as clinical hours.  (I do not know what number applies to non-BSN nurses.)

This figure is not written down anywhere (to my knowledge).  You can try calling the Misrad Habriut and asking for the figure.  If they do tell you the figure over the phone, ask them to write it in a letter to you.  They may still make you send the above mentioned blank form to be filled out by your college of nursing.  I also submitted a letter from my former advisor stating that my college of nursing was fully accredited and that its graduates are fully qualified to sit for the nursing boards in the USA.  She also added a few sentences of recommendation for me.

Most foreign nurses seem to have bureaucratic challenges in obtaining permission to take the test.  Just from talking with other immigrant nurses I can say that it is likely that you will be sent to fetch more documentation.  Unfortunately you can't begin any prep courses (such as the Hebrew medical terminology course) until you have an exam invitation.  But, you can take an Ulpan (general Hebrew training course) geared towards medical terminology without the invitation.  In the central Israel region, these medical ulpanim are located in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Raanana.  

The Misrad HaBriut will not communicate with you concerning paperwork until after your aliya, other that perhaps a form letter acknowledging receipt of your documents.  A nurse from an English speaking country other than the USA had to do some extra hospital work in Israel to bring her hours up to 2500, but I understand that a BSN from the USA does have enough course hours to qualify here.  The point is that if this nurse had known beforehand, she could have completed these hours before aliyah, but again, the Misrad HaBriut apparently will not communicate information about an individual's file before aliyah.

When I finally obtained my invitation, there was no terminology course in session. So I took the preparatory course at Hadassan Ein Kerem, which is offered twice a year, the last two weeks of August until the first week of October and in March/April.. It met from 9am - 3pm, 1 - 3 days per week, I think there were 2 or 3 weeks in which it met for 3 days in a row.  Apparently, the exam had been recently changed and will stay basically as is for two years, so it was worth it for me to get the material, as it would be up to date for the next two years.  I was generally satisfied with this course. The instructors were helpful and supportive. You do not need the invitation to take this course.  The cost was NIS 2000, and you receive a huge packet of materials which are mostly exam questions.

There were two kinds of exams given out, old exams, and exams geared for the classroom.  This is the key to preparation, in my experience and that of others I have spoken to whose Hebrew is sparse.  You sit and go over the test questions that are geared to class, some of which do appear on the actual exam, say perhaps a dozen or so.  In class the teachers lecture on the material, and then go over practice exam questions that pertain to the material.  The best thing is to go over the tests beforehand, so that when you get to class you have at least looked at the questions. 

A problem that I had was that a teacher may say, "we will be doing internal medicine (pnimit) on Thursday", and the "pnimit" practice test contains 350 questions.  It would take me an hour to do one page at home, with looking up the Hebrew.  Then on Thursday the teacher teaches the GI part of pnimit, and flips though the 20 page packet to find the test questions that pertain to GI.  Frequently, I was unable to prepare for class, as I have small children. I would just get the test answers and go over the material after the fact.  The students with more time on their hands would just sit with the entire test packet, completing all the questions prior to class.  There are several teachers, so it did happen that we would be told that the next class would be a certain subject and then upon arriving to class, a different subject would be taught, but that is to be expected anywhere. The best thing is to show up on the first day, get the packet (bring a large bag to carry it in) and start plowing through the questions with a medical terminology dictionary.

Reviewing my Mosby's NCLEX review book was helpful in understanding the lectures.  Most of the time, however, I just could not prepare for class.  The course is taught in Hebrew.  My level of Hebrew is Kita Dalet (4 courses) and I really understood very little of the lectures.  I audiotaped the lectures, although I rarely got a chance to listen to the tapes. That, coupled with my inability to prepare for classes properly, meant that I really had a slim chance of passing. I was there to collect the material and take the test in October as a practice run, then listen to the tapes and review the handouts over the winter in preparation for the April test.  I did pass, B"H, and I think the key to that for me was plowing through the practice tests, having obtained the answers to the questions from the class, and using my Mosby's review for the NCLEX book as a reference.

Israeli medical ethics is the one set of material that is hard to obtain in English. Here I sat in the class and taped it (understanding little) and went over the information handout with a teacher at her home. You can find medical ethics written in English at hospital or legal libraries, but I did get the information I needed from this instructor.

OTHER PREPARATION OPTIONS:

Take a medical ulpan (about 2 1/2 months), then terminology course (maybe 3-4 months, and only allowed after you receive your "hazmana") then a preparatory course such as at Hadassah or listed below.

Akiva Ehrlich, a nurse at Bikur Holim hospital, taught a review course through the AACI in Jerusalem, one evening per week for about two months, charging only for xeroxing. I spoke with him on the phone a couple of times, and he was very helpful.

There is a course taught by "Krieger", sort of like an Israeli Kaplan. It is more expensive than the Hadassah course, is taught in advanced Hebrew (being geared for Israelis as the Hadassah course is).  It meets in Tel Aviv, and may meet in other cities. I did order their books, one was on how to take the exam, and one book was old exam questions, but only up until 1997. You can order their books through Steimatsky's (Israeli book store), or directly from Krieger.

I think there are review courses at Shaarei Tzedek in Jerusalem and at Tel HaShomer hospital, also in advanced Hebrew.

Some Oleh nurses pay a nurse to tutor them privately.

What Oleh nurses really need is a course like the one I took at Hadassah, but taught in simpler Hebrew. You do have the option of taking a medical ulpan, then a terminology course, then the Hadassah course, but that means months of study and if you have basic Hebrew and the time to go over the questions at home, plunging into a hospital course may be a viable option.

I hope that Oleh nurses can work together in improving the system of obtaining Israeli licensure.

Even with all the hardships, when it comes to aliyah, just do it.  We really are very happy here.

I have a copy of the exam guidelines sent out by the Misrad Habriut. You can contact me with any questions at nursing@officehours.com.
 
 

Insightful Story

There is a story told that a reporter went to the Satmar Rebbe during the Gulf War and asked him about his thoughts on the miracle of 39 missiles hitting Israel but no one being killed by the missiles.  His response was, "If you want to see miracles every day, go to Mayah Shearim where families of 10 live on 2000 shekel a month".

 

Insightful Joke

The Prime Minister of Israel was visiting the President of the United States.  During their talks they discussed their respective economies.  The Israeli PM asked, "What's the average income in your country?".  "$22,000" the President replied.  "And what's the average cost of living?" asked the PM.  "$18,000" the President replied.  "What about the difference?" asked the PM.  "It's a free country, what the people do with the difference is their business." answered the President.  "And, what's the average income in your country?" asked the President.  "14,000 NIS" answered the PM.  "And what's the average cost of living?" asked the President.  "18,000 NIS" answered the PM.  "What about the difference?" asked the President.  "It's a free country, what the people do about the difference is their business." answered the PM of Israel!

 

Relevant Links

Jobnet - English/Hebrew Hi-Tech Job Search Site

 


Last Updated: 22-01-2000
Copyright 1999-2001 by Akiva M
E-mail to akivam .a.t. gmail 'd'o't com with questions/comments.