By Chavi Kramer
I moved to Israel three and a half years ago. I finished my Nutrition and Dietetics degree six months prior (in Monash University, Melbourne) and had a small amount of work experience. Initially I was only planning on staying in Israel for a few months but somehow found myself wanting to stay on, unaware of the complications that would follow in trying to find work as a dietitian. A year and a half later, I had finally passed the licensing exam to convert my Australian dietetic license to an Israeli one and was managing to get a hold of the Hebrew language. I was beginning to realize that the job application process was dramatically different to that in Australia, as potential employers were hardly looking at my experience or my nutrition knowledge, but more at my personality and whether or not I could speak the language. However, what I found even more difficult – was once I began working, I was given a lot of responsibility immediately and not much supervision or training. This really pushed me and forced me to take initiative and be a lot more assertive than my natural tendency. Adjusting to the different foods and products in Israel, the different measurements of blood glucose and cholesterol and having an understanding of how the health system worked was the simple part. Working with a completely different type of population – where the culture and personality of the people I was working with were almost the opposite of the typical Australian, is still taking me time to get used to.
Since living here, I’ve worked in a number of different health facilities including private practice, a hospital, a nursing home, the Ministry of Health and a community health clinic. I’m also in the process of studying a Masters of Public Health (in Hebrew), which again is a completely different experience to studying in Australia. I still feel limited in my communication with patients and colleagues, and often find myself frustrated that if I was working in the same setting in Australia it would probably be a lot smoother. On the other hand, I have been given a lot more opportunities here as a relatively young dietitian – because of the culture and nature of the people. I’m looking forward to continuing to be challenged professionally in this country that is becoming more and more familiar to me with time.