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Nicolae Testemitanu Medical University’s Opinion on the Israeli Health Ministry’s Decision to Prevent Its Graduates from Practicing in Their Homeland

Monday, 11 February 2019

CHISINAU, MOLDOVA — Nicolae Testemitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy of the Republic of Moldova (Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh) is concerned about the Israeli Health Ministry decision that will prevent Israelis from continuing to enroll at the university, Rector Ion Ababii announced.

Since Israelis make up a quarter of Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh’s 6,000 students, the university faces a significant short-term setback from the ministry decision to allow graduates of only 36 countries’ medical schools to practice in Israel, Ababii said. Moldova is not one of the 36.

The ministry announced January 21 that it will allow only students who graduate from medical schools in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries to practice medicine in Israel. Most OECD members are developed countries, with the majority being in Western Europe. The ministry said it was taking the step to prevent Israeli health care from being compromised by graduates of non-Israeli medical schools that were of questionable quality.

Ababii said Nicolae Testemitanu Medical University is weighing its options for responding to the Israeli Health Ministry announcement. Asking Moldovan diplomats to become involved is a possibility, he said.

Although the Israeli Health Ministry ban on medical-school graduates from non-OECD countries applies to 159 of the world’s 195 countries, Ababii said the decision is unfortunate for both Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh and the Israeli health-care system — because the university has provided Israeli with thousands of doctors, dentists and pharmacists over the past two decades.

The Israel Health Ministry decision carried the caveat that graduates of medical schools in non-OECE countries would be allowed to practice in Israel if their universities are accredited by the World Federation of Medical Education. But there is not enough time for Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh to obtain such accreditation. The decision applies to students enrolling in medical schools outside Israel beginning in the fall of 2019.

The United States has also decided to restrict its medical practitioners to graduates of medical schools in OECD countries or programs accredited by the World Federation of Medical Education. But it will not implement the decision until the beginning of 2023. Thus, non-OECD countries will have time to comply with WFME requirements.

“Medical-education experts in countries offering the best healthcare in the world have told us that Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh is a world-class medical institution, and we have been a major contributor to Israel’s health-care system. We believe the Israeli Health Ministry is singling us out because we have done too good a job of training young Israeli doctors, dentists and pharmacists,” Ababii said.

A number of Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh graduates have become star performers in Israel, including heart surgeons and cancer specialists. The president of Israeli’s Dentistry Association is a Nicolae Testemitanu Medical University graduate, Ababii added.

“The European Union thought enough of our quality to donate a $5 million for University Center for Simulation in Medical Training, where our students practice their treatment skills on special mannequins. We have a state-of-the-art dental simulation center as well,” he said.The University of Minnesota Medical School helped Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh set up its residency program, and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has made its multimillion-volume online library available to

Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh faculty and students.

“The California Dental Board accredited the Nicolae Testemitanu Dentistry Program in 2018 — a decision that has prompted California students to begin enrolling in the university,” Ababii said.

The rector noted that the Israeli Health Ministry decision has upset Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh’s Israeli students, their families, and many of the university’s   graduates who are practicing in Israel.

“The decision has made our graduates in Israel feel like second-class citizens in the country’s health-care delivery system. Many have told me they are speaking out against the decision, including protesting it to politicians and government leaders,” Ababii said.

The faculty and administrators of Nicolae Testemitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy of the Republic of Moldova have joined the rector in expressing concern about the future of the institution’s current Israeli students. They have collectively pledged to meet the requirements necessary to obtain accreditation from the World Federation of Medical Education.


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