Perspectives in Medical Education : 1. Reflections on the state of medical education in Japan





The current shortcomings in Japanese medical education are highlighted by identifying four major areas of concern, based on the author's personal observations at Keio University Hospital. The first of these is a woeful lack of clinical skills among Japanese medical students and residents. This lack springs directly from the complete absence of any bedside clinical instruction, which constitutes the second area of concern. The third is the attitude of faculty towards teaching as a burden that detracts and diverts them from their primary goal of academic advancement through research. Finally, there is no recognition of the value of a problem-based approach to teaching clinical medicine, so that clinical problem-solving skills have atrophied to the point of near-extinction in the current generation of Japanese physicians. The promise of problem-based learning (PBL) provides a crucial starting point for efforts to change the system. PBL emphasizes the importance of an integrated approach to clinical problems, and a reliance on critical thinking — the basis of primary care. This contrasts with the selective and highly specialized approach to disease, and reliance on sophisticated technology, which are hallmarks of specialty care. The effort to reform medical education will fail without visionary leadership and without the willingness to confront the truth, as unpleasant as it may seem to be. Both these crucial elements exist at Keio University at this critical juncture. It is this happy confluence that emboldens the author to hope that the future of reform is in good hands at this august institution.


  • Keio journal of medicine

    Keio journal of medicine 55(2), 41-51, 2006-06-01

    The Keio Journal of Medicine

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