A state-backed panel had been given the responsibility of coming up with ways for training more doctors in Israel.
The head of the panel criticized the recent decision of the government to close three medical schools in the country catering to foreign students in order to make room for the locals.
He maintained that it was a costly and contentious move that was not necessary at all.
American medical programs to shut down
The Council for Higher Education had announced earlier this month that the American medical programs offered at the Technion, the Ben Gurion University and the Tel Aviv University were being shut down.
This move was aimed at replacing the 130 foreign students that study in these schools with locals, considering that there is a shortage of doctors in Israel.
However, Prof. Rafael Beyar, who had been leading the committee for investigating ways of increasing the medical student numbers in Israel, said that there were other ways they could accomplish this goal.
He said that they had come up with a detailed plan that would allow 400 more medical students to enroll in four-year programs.
He added that in order to incorporate these 400 additional students, they did not need to shut down the foreign programs. He had recently written to the council and criticized their decision.
Shortage of doctors
There is already a dearth of doctors in the State of Israel, especially in far-flung areas and the situation is only expected to worsen, given that the country’s ageing population would require greater medical care.
Moreover, there is also a wave of doctors that are close to their retirement age. Most of the doctors in Israel do not find available spots in medical schools in the country.
Therefore, a majority of them are forced to study abroad. One of the biggest challenges is increasing the ‘clinical space’, which refer to spots in laboratories and hospitals where hands-on experience can be provided to medical students.
The American programs
The American medical programs that are offered in Israel are used by foreign students to complete their studies in the country, but receive American degrees at the end of the day.
They also do their residencies in the United States, but they are considered a benefit for the Israeli medical system for several reasons.
First off, the huge amounts of money paid in tuitions is relevant, as the foreign students pay 10 times more than locals.
Secondly, it also enhances the academic reputation of Israel internationally, while also creating an informal network of doctors with close ties to Israel in the United States.
The former dean of the medical school of the Technion and the former director of the Rambam Medical Center, Beyar said that the letter he had written was his own opinion and not of the committee.
While he confirmed that he had sent the letter to the council, he refused to share a copy and said that the full content was only for the council and its officials.