Israeli medical education faces considerable stresses that include severe budgetary constraints and a recent influx of immigrant physicians who need professional upgrading or retraining. Ben-Gurion University developed a licensing preparation course after the government in 1988 required foreign-trained physicians to take a licensing examination. A standard, countrywide licensing examination is under study, but its development is hampered by the almost-complete autonomy of Israeli medical schools and minimal staffing of medical education units. To overcome these problems, the Israeli Society for Medical Education was founded in 1991. Ben-Gurion University Medical School, the newest and smallest, but most innovative, has sparked by its example many changes in the more traditional medical schools. It has introduced an increased emphasis on family medicine, early clinical teaching, integration of health services and medical education in the Beer Sheva region, the teaching of interviewing and communication skills, unification of single-discipline departments, courses in medical decision making and medical ethics, advances in computerization of medical records and in local budget autonomy for community clinics (a change from rigidly centralized medical administration), and voluntary peer evaluation.
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