|On July 23, 2008 the Israeli Parliament (cneset) approved a new law that defines 4 medical professions: Dietetics, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapist and Speech therapist. These four professions are now recognized as academic health professions, defined and protected by law.
This law is a basic law that in future may serve as a platform for defining and recognizing additional health care professions. According to the law, practicing as a professional from the defined group – such as dietitian or nutritionist, is allowed only for people that take specific academic studies in university academic level according to a program recognized for this purpose by the Ministry of Health and the council of academic education. The requirements for training also include a minimum period of at least 6 months of practical experience in a full time job in recognized establishments - hospitals, HMO clinics, health prevention clinics etc. according to an agreed academic program.
From this day forth, the Ministry of Health will issue certificates to professionals that comply with criteria set by the law and complete the required education and practice program. Under the new law, persons practicing or presenting themselves as professionals without fulfilling these criteria may be subjected to prison sentence.
According to the new law, there are unique treatments only a certified professional may perform. Furthermore, not hiring of a certified professional to work in these 4 professions is forbidden. Another resolution is that the health insurance covers treatment by these professionals.
The next step planned by the Ministry of Health is defining specialties such as Pediatric dietitian \ nutritionist, Nephrology dietitian \ nutritionist, etc. For the purpose of defining the specialties, and other professional recommendations, a committee that will act as advisory board to the Minister of Health was established, and includes representatives from the academia, clinical practice, and the professional associations.
The new legal privileges come with additional responsibilities – a final government exam, code of ethics, code of advertising, and such. This law is a first step, but time will tell if it is indeed as promising as we hope, since other interest groups that opposed it are still working to undermine it.