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Home » Career stories » Dr. Yakov Zilberg


Dr. Yakov Zilberg

Dr. Yakov Zilberg

My father was a celebrated doctor and perhaps it was this legacy that had steered me to follow in his footsteps. I enrolled in Kaunas Medical Institute (KMI) because this was the only Lithuanian institution where studies were conducted in the Russian language. In 1959, having succeeded in a tough competition, I was offered a place at KMI, spent six rewarding years of studies and graduated in 1965.

During the Soviet times all graduates were offered work placements by the institute authorities, and this was according to the needs of the government. The graduates were obliged to complete three years of work at the place they had been allocated. So I spent three years sailing as a physician on board of various ships of the fishing fleet and for several months I worked as a resident in the internal department of a small general hospital for fishermen.

Later I won a research fellowship in the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Vilnius and worked there in the field of pathological physiology up until my emigration to Israel in 1972.

After a short course of Hebrew studies in ULPAN (the Hebrew language school) I settled in Haifa and started training in the internal medicine department of the Carmel Medical Center.

In 1974 I was appointed a physician in charge of Beit Shean area of the Valley District of Kupat Holim, responsible for the health care of about 20,000 residents. During quite a short period of time I managed to implement an efficient primary health care program, and our clinic was recognized by the Medical Council as a template for training physicians in family medicine. In 1976 I was promoted to the position of Medical Director of the Valley District of Kupat Holim, responsible for the medical care of the population of about 200,000.

In 1982 I was sent to the United Kingdom by the Israeli authorities to study the field of health management and administration. I took a course for Senior Health Services Managers in the International Hospitals Federation and at the King’s Fund of London and spent one academic year in the University of London. At the end of 1983 I completed my formal training with a Master’s Degree in Community Medicine.

On my return from London, I was invited to the headquarters of Kupat Holim Klalit and placed in charge of all its community services.

In 1985 I returned to the Valley District of Israel as a Chief Executive of the Jezreel Valley (Emek) Medical Center and the Medical Director of the Valley District of Kupat Holim.

In 1992, as a result of the financial crisis in Kupat Holim Klalit, all the top managers of the organization were dismissed. I was asked by the new General Director of Kupat Holim to assist him in the process of reorganization and reforms. For the following five years I was the Deputy Director for Medicine, responsible for operating 8 general hospitals, 6 special care hospitals (geriatric, rehabilitation and psychiatric) and all the community services in the country.

In 1997, upon my request, I left the Central Office and became the Chief Executive of the Carmel Medical Center (General hospital with about 500 beds). This was the institution where I took my first steps in my professional journey in Israel 25 years before. I served in the Carmel hospital for 10 years till my retirement in 2007.

I was also involved in other different activities. In 1990 I was a member of the international training and advisory team for future health services managers and leaders of “Solidarity”, Poland. I took part in various studies and provided consultancy services in Israel, Russia, Spain, Kazakhstan and Singapore. I published a number of articles in the field of health care management.

My professional experience led me to a career in administration and management, which was very successful. I am proud that many of my deputies hold senior managerial positions in Israeli hospitals and medical organizations and are highly esteemed.

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