‘Physician assistant’ profession to commence in Israel


Meet the “physician assistant”: Starting in August, a new profession in Israel will commence, where its graduates will meet patients not only in emergency rooms but also in hospital departments and health clinics. They will examine patients, present the case to doctors, and perform various referrals and medical procedures to ease the load and shorten waiting times.

For years, the Israeli healthcare system has faced a significant shortfall: positions have not changed significantly since the 1970s, resulting in a constant deficit in the ratio of doctors per capita, among the lowest in Western countries. Worldwide, the increasing load, due to rising life expectancy and high morbidity has been tackled by creating a new profession: physician assistant, working alongside doctors to assist in their work.

The profession has also been approved in Israel, and for about eight years, the Health Ministry has been training paramedics to function as medical aides in emergency rooms, performing admissions and medical examinations, referrals for imaging and initial tests, and ongoing monitoring and treatment. The training is a one-year course for paramedics or nurses, including practical training. However, the program has not been very successful: only 100 physician assistants are currently employed in emergency rooms, and surveys among program graduates showed high dropout rates. The physician assistants complained about the lack of career advancement opportunities and low wages that do not match the level and workload.

New profession to be taught at university level

To address the dropout from the profession and align with other Western countries, the Health Ministry decided to upgrade the training and rename the profession “physician assistant.” Under the new profession, which will now be taught at the university level and granted a master’s degree, the training will start from the basics, covering subjects taught in medical schools, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology.

The medical authorities of “physician assistant” graduates will also be significantly expanded: they will be allowed to engage in a broader range of medical procedures, have the authority to give medication orders, participate in complex resuscitations, handle medical equipment, and be able to refer for imaging and direct medical actions to nursing staff.

Doctor with a stethoscope in the hands and hospital background (illustrative) (credit: INGIMAGE)

The Health Ministry will conduct strictly overseerformance and effectiveness and will gradually approve additional authorities, including approving specific medication prescriptions, initiating drug treatments, chronic care management, and signing follow-up prescriptions. Program graduates will be assigned to internal departments, community health clinics, psychiatric hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. The curriculum, which will be offered at medical faculties, is currently being developed, with the first class of students expected in March 2026.

The Health Ministry explained: “In August, the law regulating the practice of ‘physician assistant’ as a recognized licensed profession in Israel will take effect. This is part of the Ministry’s efforts to expand the pool of healthcare providers and improve patient experience within the healthcare system. The ‘physician assistant’ track, which does not yet exist in Israel, will grant broad medical authorities to license holders, assisting doctors in their routine work under the supervision of the Health Ministry and specialist doctors.

Additionally, ‘physician assistant’ graduates can work in any department, community, and hospital, similar to the US and Europe. The Health Ministry is in continuous contact with the Council for Higher Education, responsible for building an appropriate syllabus for master’s degree studies in the profession.”

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