When asked what they'd like to do most career-wise, many young women and men whose families have moved to Israel from Ethiopia expressed a strong desire to become hospital nurses. But getting into nursing school in Israel requires scoring high on the psychometric exams, Israel's equivalent of College Boards. Because of cultural factors, Ethiopian immigrants rarely score high enough. But what if that barrier were removed, and a college preparatory course would shore up some of the academic issues? The program would also help to alleviate the shortage in nurses as the Israel population and health services expand.
An organization called Jobkatif approached Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA) and the Henrietta Szold Hadassah Hebrew University School of Nursing with the idea of organizing such a program. Thanks to the generous fund to help nurses donated by Patricia Lapan, a nurse and businesswoman, a cohort of 18 Ethiopian Jewish students began their pre-academic studies last week. The program is called Achotenu, Hebrew for "our sister."
Chosen from among 60 applicants, the students will get an intensive summer course in English, chemistry and mathematics, and help in adjusting to university life. All of them are the first generation in their families to go to college. Many of their parents didn't go to school at all in Ethiopia. The students come from all over Israel. They are a mix of those born in Ethiopia and sabras from Ethiopian families. Those who succeed in the summer courses will proceed to the Hebrew University's heralded pre-academic program, and then on to full nursing school at Hadassah Ein Kerem where they will earn a bachelor's degree in nursing.
"You have chosen well and you were well-chosen," said Dr. Miri Rom, Dean of Nursing. "Nursing goes beyond professional concerns—it's a lifelong commitment to patients where nothing less than a hundred percent is needed every day."
Congratulations and greetings were presented in the name of National President Ellen Hershkin and past President Nancy Falchuk, a nurse, who has been involved in bringing the plans to fruition. The women of Hadassah have long been pioneers in nursing education. In 1918, Hadassah established the first post-high school educational institution for young women. It was a nursing school. 400 women from all over the country applied for the first 50 places. Henrietta Szold moved to Israel to help run it. Today it bears her name.
HWZOA, through the generosity of the Lapan Fund is providing assistance in tuition, housing and student needs like computers and books. Jobkatif professionals will mentor the students and help them overcome obstacles.