Helping Haredi Students Prepare for Medical School

Netzach Educational Network has opened a Medical School Preparatory Program (Mechina) in Jerusalem, for Haredi men and women who want to become doctors, and who have already earned a relevant first degree.

Becoming a doctor is an impossible dream for most Haredi students in Israel. This is because of the intensity of the academic studies required to enter medical schools, various cultural challenges, and the low level of science teaching in most Haredi schools. In recent years, more Haredim have chosen to enter nursing and para-medical professions, as well as other science and technology professions, but they lack any route to enter Israel’s highly competitive medical schools.

The Netzach Medical Mechina, a joint project with the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), also known as Machon Lev, offers separate courses for men and women. Classes will be twice weekly six-hour sessions for three semesters over 15 months with additional online units for independent study. It will prepare them for success in the entrance examinations at Israel’s medical schools.

Medical Mechina logo

The new Pre-Medical Preparatory Program will equip ambitious and talented Haredi students to enter the medical profession, to serve both their own community and Israel’s broader society. It joins Netzach’s catalog of post-high school programs designed to equip Haredi students to obtain qualifications to enter the professions. For example, women are already studying at Netzach’s Ofek Women’s College for degrees in nursing, psychology, computing, electronics and bio-technology.

The new program is designed to support and empower Haredi students, and particularly women, some of whom already have families. Included are workshops on cultural competence, in preparation for entering a profession that serves people from different cultures. It will also cover issues of halacha (Jewish law) and medical ethics. Those who are accepted to medical school after the course will be supported throughout their medical studies by Haredi doctors.

150 candidates have already registered their interest in the program. To be accepted, they must demonstrate the high aptitude levels required for success in medical school. They also must have a recognized first degree in a relevant scientific subject or in nursing, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. Partial scholarships are available for qualified students.

The program will be led by Dr. Sara Genut, Head of the JCT Bio-Informatics Department, who has extensive experience of preparing students for medical school. President of the JCT, Prof. Chaim Sukenik, says: “Medicine remains one of the most sought-after professions in Israel. Opening the door to this world for the Hareidi population will allow many talented young people in that community to realize this dream. This will not only train much needed medical personnel but will further the integration of Hareidi society into the health care community. The Jerusalem College of Technology is pleased to play an important role in this program.”

Michoel Nechtiler, Netzach CEO, is excited that so many potential students have registered for the program. “We have consulted many experts during the process of designing this unique course. Its curriculum will prepare young men and women from Haredi backgrounds for the academic and cultural challenges involved in becoming doctors,” he said. “We recognize that there are many obstacles for them to overcome, and we are committed to supporting them to maintain their Haredi lifestyle and Torah observance throughout the process. We hope that this flagship program will open the doors to Israel’s medical profession, and encourage younger Haredi students to strive for excellence in their studies and to aim for the top.”

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