News: Japanese medical students shadow military doctors
Story by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - Japanese medical students from the Okayama Medical University followed Navy doctors as they conducted their jobs at the Robert M. Casey Medical and Dental Clinic here July 7.
The purpose of the visit was for the students to have a better working knowledge and understanding of American medical practices.
“It’s different the way Japanese and American doctors operate,” said Missie Hamano, Branch Health Clinic administration specialist. “It’s also a great opportunity for them to learn as much as they can about American medicine. They believe American medicine is so advanced.”
The students were first escorted by a Master Labor Contractor nurse throughout certain parts of the clinic and were shown some of the various instruments.
Natsue Morizane and Yuka Miyaake, both sixth-year students, took part in shadowing medical staff.
Students observing American doctors began five years ago. When the program first started, only a handful of students
took part in observing the doctors throughout the year.
The numbers have grown since then, with nearly 10 students a year coming out to observe the doctors.
“The Iwakuni Clinical Center contacted me and asked if we could bring in their students,” said Hamano. “He wanted to introduce them to some of our medical procedures and give them a chance to experience a different way to approach medical care.”
The pace at which the BHC is run is different from what the students experienced at the ICC.
“Whereas, at the ICC it is very hectic and the doctors are not able to take as much time. The doctors here take out time to talk to the students and answer questions they may have,” said Hamano.
The students spent the afternoon following behind several BHC doctors, observing many of the methods and practices they encounter on a daily basis.The students sat in on conversations the doctors had with their patients, gaining an insight into what they may encounter once they become doctors. They sat in on patient evaluations and an ultrasound.
“We rely on the Japanese medical system for things we ourselves can’t take care of, such as when we have Japanese consultations out in town,” said Veronica E. Bigornia, BHC medical officer. “I would hope they take back an understanding of the unique situation we have here and are able to learn from it and learn from them why they do things a certain way.”
Communication is paramount to medical officers, especially in a host nation where two individuals may not be able to speak
the same language.
The language barrier can sometimes lead to the students not being so eager to ask questions or take part in discussions.
“The language barrier can be a hindrance, but their English was actually pretty good,” said Bignoria.
For the students, this was an opportunity to not only further their educations but give back to the community and show their support.
“My mother was a doctor,” said Yuka Miyake through an interpreter. “I have always had a respect for it, seeing my mother do this from my childhood. It is a worthwhile effort to contribute and help the community for many years to come.”
The students will have to take a national examination next year in order to become doctors. The need for such doctors is not only
a major concern for host nation residents but U.S. military service members stationed there as well.
Whenever a U.S. service member is required to travel to a host nation’s hospital for Magnetic Resonance Imaging or another procedure that cannot be performed at a U.S. health facility, they benefit from the experience of the hospital staff.
As soon-to-be practicing doctors, they are ever learning and growing as the field of medicine grows as well. Studying alongside military doctors is one of the many ways they can also continue their education, and benefit their country by learning, not just from their country’s best and brightest, but from others as well.