The dynamics of professional commitment: immigrant physicians from the former Soviet Union in Israel.


The paper examines professional commitment among physicians who immigrated to Israel form the former Soviet Union during the early 1990s. This population faces severe limits regarding occupational continuity because of the highly saturated market in which non-negligible groups will, in the long run, of necessity undergo occupational change. The theoretical background for the analysis is drawn from the literature regarding recent changes in professional roles with particular reference to the shifting meaning of work in post-modern societies and its consequences for occupational commitment. The professional context of medical practice in the former Soviet Union and the social and economic constraints of Israeli society in the 1990s set the scene for the analysis. Several dimensions of professional commitment are examined empirically, on the assumption that there are a variety of ways to consider the notion of commitment and that no one measure tells a complete story. Prolonged processes of deprofessionalization of medicine in the Soviet Union, suggest that medicine for most immigrant physicians is not so much a 'calling' to which they are devoted; rather it is a necessary means to gain a livelihood, the only occupation for which they have been trained for many years after stringent selection to medical school and the only job in which they have worked consistently since completing their formal training. Two and a half years after arrival in Israel the immigrant doctors are characterized by a short-range time perspective which makes them unwilling to accept the constraints of the saturated market; intense efforts are made by most to obtain a license despite the fact that only a fraction of them will be able to work in their profession on a regular basis. Despite this over-riding reality, many hope that they will be among the selected few who will be able to obtain a medical post.

Cite this paper

@article{Shuval1996TheDO, title={The dynamics of professional commitment: immigrant physicians from the former Soviet Union in Israel.}, author={Judith T. Shuval and Jay Bernstein}, journal={Social science & medicine}, year={1996}, volume={42 7}, pages={965-74} }