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Israel: Foreign-Trained Dentists Immigrating to Israel May Be Exempt from Licensing Exams

(Feb. 8, 2016) On January 25, 2016, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed legislation authorizing the Minister of Health to determine conditions for either fully or partially exempting new immigrants from testing requirements otherwise applicable to persons seeking a license to practice dentistry in Israel. (Dentists Ordinance Amendment (No. 6) Law, 5776-2016 (Amendment Law), Knesset website (in Hebrew) (scroll down to appropriate link); Dentists Ordinance (New Version), 5739-1979, 3 Laws of the State of Israel (LSI) (New Version) 101 (1981, as amended).)

Standard Licensing Requirements for Dentists

Under section 6(c) of the Dentists Ordinance, one of the conditions for obtaining a license to practice dentistry in Israel is to pass an exam set by the General Manager of the Ministry of Health (GMMH), in consultation with the Science Committee of the Dental Medicine Association in Israel (DMAI). (Dentists Ordinance § 6(c).)

In accordance with Regulation 4 of the Dentists (Licensing Exam) Regulations 5752-1992, as amended, a dentistry license exam includes two parts: a written substantive test and a practical exam that includes making a diagnosis, preparing a treatment plan, and performing “manual tasks.” The topics covered in the exams are listed in the appendix of the Regulations.  (Dentists (Licensing Exam) Regulations 5752-1992, Kovetz Hatakanot [SubsidiaryLegislation] 5752 No. 5459 p. 1342 (in Hebrew).)

Both the written and the practical parts of the exam are held in the Hebrew language or, to the extent possible, in a language of the examinees, based on authorization by the examining committee. This committee is appointed by the GMMH for implementation of the Regulations. (Id. §§ 6, 8-9.)

Changes to Exam Requirement

The Amendment Law authorizes the Minister of Health to issue regulations to either fully or partially exempt applicants from having to pass the dentistry licensing exams. Applicants who may enjoy this exemption must be licensed and have practiced dentistry in a foreign country in a lawful status and at a “proper professional level” for a period of at least five years.  (Amendment Law § 2.)

According to the explanatory notes for the draft bill of the Amendment Law, the Amendment Law was proposed “… in view of the expected immigration wave among practicing dentists and to assist these new immigrants to integrate and practice the profession also in Israel.” (Dentists Ordinance Amendment (No. 6) Draft Bill, 5776-2015, Government Bill 991, Knesset website (click link for Issue No. 991).) A similar exemption, according to the explanatory notes, exists in section 4(A1) of the Physicians Ordinance.  (Physicians Ordinance (New Version), 5737-1976, 3 LSI (New Version) 80 (1981, as amended).)

Reactions to the New Law

The Amendment Law was opposed by Israeli dentists, who expressed concern that it would lower the level of dentistry in Israel and harm Israeli patients. According to Dr. Itsik Chen, DMAI Chairman, “the Amendment Law is not fair to dentistry students in Israel who take the licensing exams or to the patients.”  Chen reportedly said that the DMAI would insist that the Ministry of Health consult the Association on ways to implement the Amendment Law “to ensure that a dentist who receives an exemption would indeed deserve it.” (Eti Gal, Approved: An Exemption from Exam for Dentists Who Studied Abroad, YNET (Jan. 25, 2016) (in Hebrew).)