UH Med Now
Enduring UH-Okinawa medical training partnership recognized in seminar
Vice Dean Satoru Izutsu traveled to Okinawa to take part in a panel presentation about the longstanding partnership in medical education between the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and Okinawa.
Through JABSOM, the University of Hawai’i has helped Okinawa to build a strong physician workforce. Dr. Izutsu’s presentation gives an overview of the partnership’s rich history.
“Both Okinawa and Hawaiʻi recognize the importance of preparing students with 21st century skills and knowledge through opportunities for international educational exchange and cooperation,” said Dr. Izutsu. “We embrace the potential of this visit and hope to build on existing programs and begin new relationships that will further our common goal of providing students and educators of Hawaiʻi and Okinawa with greater access to the global community. ”
About the Hawaiʻi-Okinawa partnership, by Dr. Satoru Izutsu
In the early 1960s, the University of Hawaiʻi was contacted by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukus (USCAR) to assist in the training of Okinawan physicians at Chubu hospital in Gushikawa.
When World War II ended in 1945, there were only six physicians practicing in Okinawa. In 1950, 131 physicians returned from the war. This meant that there were 18.7 physicians per 100,000 people. Today, there are 241 physicians per 100,000, a ratio that is higher than Japan’s national average of 238.
By the end of this year, 2015, the Chubu program will have graduated 961 physicians. All of these men and women have been trained to provide medical care to the people of Okinawa that includes outlying islands such as Miyako, Yae-yama and Ie-Jima. In 2017, the Chubu Hospital program will be celebrating its 50th year anniversary.
Each year, an average of 28 new Residents are accepted into the Program. Currently, there are 90-95 Residents at Chubu. These are men and women who have graduated from top-ranking medical schools throughout Japan and are now furthering their preparation to become fully-trained physicians. The training period can be as long as five years, depending on the medical specialty. There are five to six Residents from Okinawa in each admitted class.
Annually, the UH medical school sends 10 consultants to Chubu. The majority are faculty at the University of Hawaiʻi. Nine members spend one week, and one consultant spends up to three months at Chubu to provide the most current information in their respective specialties. In addition, four Residents in training at Chubu are selected to spend a month at the University of Hawaiʻi. Also, it is the responsibility of the program at Chubu with assistance from Hawaiʻi to maintain an up-to-date English medical library.
Admission to the Chubu Program is highly competitive because of its reputation in Japan of being an outstanding training program. This year, Chubu hospital, where the training takes place, was cited by the Nikkei Business publication (June 15, 2015) as being #6 of 100 hospitals surveyed in all of Japan.
In addition to the UH program at Chubu Hospital, 6th year medical students from Ryukyu University School of Medicine have an opportunity to spend a month of elective study at the University of Hawaiʻi. Likewise, students in their senior year at the University of Hawaiʻi can spend a month at Ryukyu University. In addition, recently, two University of Hawaiʻi medical school faculty members served as consultants to the faculty at the University of Ryukyu School of Medicine.
It is difficult to fathom the suffering, pain and misery experienced by the people of Okinawa at the end of World War II in 1945. The health of the population was at stake. The Okinawan leaders’ self-determination and trust in the Americans (USCAR) began the long journey of building the future of a healthy Okinawa. This noble vision continues between Okinawan leaders at the levels of the Okinawa national and prefectural governments in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi through the University of Hawai’i.
We in Hawai’i are proud to be a participant in this legacy. We look forward to many more years of continued collaboration.