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In an attempt to tackle the shortage of army doctors, the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps launched a training program in the Galilee last week for 14 new immigrant physicians from the former Soviet Union.

The participants will spend 18 months learning Hebrew at Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in the Upper Galilee, and will then be posted to serve as doctors with various IDF units.

In putting together the program, entitled "Doctors for the IDF 2008," the army teamed up with the ministries of immigrant absorption and health, the Jewish Agency and the Upper Galilee Regional Council, which initiated and is hosting the program.

The council has held similar training programs for doctors in the past; however, this is the first time the military has been involved.

All of the current participants have more than 14 years of experience in medical fields including gynecology, pediatrics, anesthetics, endocrinology and psychiatry.

Organizers from the Kibbutz Movement, which is cosponsoring the program, said they hoped to hold a second class next year.