Knesset Panel Retroactively Eases Licensing of Immigrant Dentists

Dentists with five years' experience can soon be licensed to practice. Until now, only dentists with 15 years' experience were exempt from the licensing exams.

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Another treatment, costing 5,500 shekels, seems to be for teeth whitening by a dentist.Credit: Bloomberg

Immigrant dentists with five years’ experience in their home countries can soon be licensed to practice in Israel without taking a battery of exams, under new regulations approved by a special Knesset committee.

Until now, only dentists with 15 years’ experience were exempt from the licensing exams. The move got a green light from a joint committee of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee and the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee, in conjunction with Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.

The new regulations still need Knesset approval. Within a month, the Health Ministry will submit detailed criteria to the committee, which will review them and submit them to the full Knesset for a vote.

Today some 70 percent of immigrant doctors and dentists fail the relevant licensing exams, as do many other immigrants trained in the health professions.

In addition, it was agreed that new immigrants with experience in health-related professions like occupational therapy, physiotherapy, communication disorders and nutrition, who hold a certificate of study in these fields, can be certified by the Health Ministry and work in their professions even if they do not have a bachelor’s degree in the field, on condition that in the country they came from the field is not studied on an academic track the way it is in Israel.

Until now, immigrants who came with certifications, but not degrees, in these fields could work in them only if they earned an academic degree, and even then many were not able to pass the required tests. Only 7 percent of immigrants who took the tests for a dietician’s license passed, compared to 67 percent of the Israelis who took it, while only 16 percent of immigrants passed the test in physiotherapy, compared to 68 percent of Israelis.

The new rules will apply retroactively, meaning that those who came during the wave of immigration in the 1990s and were not permitted to work in these fields because they couldn’t pass the tests, can apply for certification now under the new criteria.

The committee also decided that tests in these fields must be given in other languages (like Russian, French, and Spanish), and not just in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, as is done today.

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