18 Jan A Meaningful Journey to Practicing Medicine in Israel
Growing up, Evgenii, 26, moved around a lot. Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, his family immigrated to the US when he was just one year old, living there for a few years until his parents got divorced, prompting Evgenii and his mother to move back to Russia. They then lived in Ukraine for about seven years before moving back to Saint Petersburg, where Evgenii went to university and medical school.
“The good thing about moving around a lot was it made me used to being a foreigner and helped me learn how to adapt quickly,” recalled Evgenii. “That experience really helped when I came to Israel in October 2021 with the Masa Doctors program.”
Evgenii had been a surgeon in residency for three years in Russia when he started to look for a new path, discovering his next step with Masa Doctors. Founded by Masa Israel Journey, Masa Doctors helps hundreds of young Jewish doctors pass the Israeli medical licensing exam to live and work in Israel. His desire to be part of the program for Russian-speaking medical professionals led Evgenii on a journey where he learned a lot about his family history.
“My father passed away when I was 14 and I only had on my birth certificate a line that said my dad was Jewish, but no other documentation. And I needed proof of my Judaism to participate in Masa doctors,” explained Evgenii. “And during this adventure to find the verification necessary, I ended up finding and reconnecting with relatives, including a cousin, that I hadn’t been in touch with for 10 years who luckily had a copy of the paperwork I was looking for.”
Learning more about his Jewish heritage made coming to Israel all the more meaningful.
“Before now, I’d never really thought about Israel because I considered it a fantasy, not something that could be my reality,” Evgenii shared. “But then I got really excited when looking for documents about taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
As part of the Masa Doctors program, Evgenii and his fellow 16 Russian-speaking medical professionals live in Be’er Sheva and attend Ulpan daily, visit hospitals and hear from Russian-speaking doctors who teach them about the differences between Israeli and Russian medical practices. And while Evgenii was already able to practice as a general surgeon in Russia, doing mostly abdominal-related operations, he must now complete a medical exam before having surgical privileges in Israel.
“The best part of this whole adventure is I’m getting to learn better medicine; Israel is one of the best countries for medicine in the world and by being here, I’m able to learn a lot and improve,” said Evgenii. “I’m gaining so much experience and I’m really glad I’m here and took this step.”