“Pay attention to your surroundings, cherish your high school life, and if you think you’ve found your lifework, don’t hesitate and put all your passion into it.”
– Dr. Hasumi, Pediatrician, Saku Central Hospital
Seven ISAK G11 students, all interested in pursuing careers in medicine, got an inside look at how Japanese hospitals and clinics operate during a two-day field trip to Saku Central Hospital, Koumi Branch Hospital, and Southern Saku Clinics last week. The visit, which was arranged by ISAK’s school nurse, Yuko Takano, included overnight home stays with Japanese families. This was an exciting chance for ISAK students to explore the complexities of modern medicine and the various career opportunities found in a hospital setting.
Escorted by Ms. Takano and an ISAK staff member, the students arrived at Saku Central Hospital and were greeted by Dr. Sakamoto (pediatrics) and a registered nurse from the I.C.U. (intensive care unit).
The day started with a lecture from Dr. Sakamoto, in which he explained that doctors are merely part of a team at the hospital. He asked the students, “Who do you think is the most important person in the hospital? The doctor? Medicine is not only about doctors. I want you to meet not only the doctors here, but all of the people involved in medicine so you can learn how medicine really works.”
After the lecture, the students headed outside to see a medical helicopter and meet with the mechanics and pilots who operate it. One of the pilots explained that there are only two medical helicopters operating in the area so the team is very busy, sometimes getting called out more than 6 times in a day.
As the tour continued, the students talked with a pediatrician, lab technician, resident doctor, nurses, and secretaries. While in the lab, students were even led through an experiment to test compounds in their own saliva.
After meeting with so many individuals and learning about the unique roles they each play in the hospital’s operations, the students came to more fully understand that hospitals are about teamwork, cooperation and collaboration:
“It’s not only the doctor who works in the hospital but there are so many people involved. At the ICU, the nurses were in charge, and at the laboratories the technicians were in charge. It was nice to see the ‘behind the scenes’ in the hospital rather than just the patient part. This really helps me about making decisions about the future, especially regarding the career of medicine. This is definitely the most well-designed hospital that I have ever been to!”
– Himanshu, G-11
“We really got the message that Dr. Sakamoto was trying to say, that the whole hospital is a team. It’s not just the doctors, but everyone working together to make the whole system work. If the lab technicians can’t tell you the data, the doctors wouldn’t be able to diagnose, so the whole team is working towards the same goal. It helped me to decide more about the future.”
– Boom, G-11
“I had a misconception about how doctors take all the work and nurses are helping the doctors. But today I witnessed that this is not the fact because nurses take a major role in taking care of patients. That’s what I learned today.”
– Thomas, G-11
Following the tour at Saku General, the students divided into three groups and traveled to clinics in three small towns in the Southern Saku area. Here, students saw how quality care is provided to people in rural Japan. In addition to visiting the clinics, the students also accompanied the doctors on home care visits.
Afterward, groups of students headed off to their home stays with local families in Koumi, Nobeyama, and Kawakamimura! This was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with Japanese families in typical homes and experience everyday life. Many thanks go to Dr. Zakoji, Director of Nobeyama Clinic, for making the home stay arrangements. The host families graciously treated students to a variety of experiences including a visit to an onsen (hot springs), home-cooked Japanese food, and even fishing on a frozen lake.
The students gathered at the Koumi Branch Hospital for discussions with doctors and a wrap-up session. In the wrap-up session, students shared their comments and feedback with Dr. Zakoji, who was very interested in hearing the students’ ideas. Before leaving the hospital, a few of the more musically inclined students entertained some of the elderly patients by playing the piano. The music was enthusiastically received, with many patients clapping and smiling through the performances.
All of the students felt the trip opened their eyes to the many options in medicine, and our sincere thanks go out to Ms. Takano for planning the visits, as well as all the doctors, hospital staff, and home stay families who helped make the trip possible!
“The experience has allowed me to open my eyes to more options. More than the medicine, it interested me to see people working calmly in ICU, and to meet doctors who had their own goals and fields of interest. This inspired me and made me think about what I want to become. Thank you very much for this opportunity.”
– Wes, G-11