Introduction to a Global Career in Medicine: Reflections from a Yokohama City University 4th-year Medical Student

Riona Aburaki

4th- year student at Yokohama City University

This past month, with generous support from the Japanese Medical Society of America (JMSA), I had the privilege of participating in the one-day program to visit the Columbia University Medical Center and to meet Dr. Yuichi Shimada, a board member and the Scholarship Committee Chair of JMSA. Dr. Shimada is a board-certified attending cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, with broad experience as a clinician and a researcher. He is also an independent principal investigator (PI), leading a research laboratory funded by NIH Research Project Grant (R01) as the Director of Research at the Columbia Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center.

I am currently on a three-month research rotation in New York, but because it is my first time in New York, it was difficult to connect with medical professionals here.

I am grateful to JMSA for this wonderful opportunity to connect with medical professionals in New York, and I am happy to share a summary of my experience.

In the morning, Dr. Shimada showed me around the hospital.

It was my first time going inside a hospital in America, so I was very excited to look around and learn about the differences in hospital environments/healthcare systems between Japan and the US.

Among them was the mental support provided by the hospital to the patients and the faculty. There was a beautiful prayer hall inside the hospital area, something I had never seen in Japan. Visiting the prayer hall made me realize the importance of understanding cultural/ religious differences and backgrounds when practicing medicine outside Japan.

After the tour, Dr. Shimada gave me detailed advice on how to study for the USMLE steps, and on ways to develop a career in the US. He was very patient with my questions that followed and I felt very lucky to receive a one-on-one lesson from him.

In the evening, I participated in the JMSA dinner along with other visiting Japanese medical students. There, I had the chance to meet more doctors working clinically in New York, including Dr. Robert Yanagisawa, the former president of JMSA.

At the dinner table, I also learned more about Dr. Shimada’s career journey, including the research work and a Master’s degree that he achieved in parallel with his clinical training and his experience in fellowship/advanced fellowship to pursue his specialty as a cardiologist.

Dr. Shimada’s career path inspired me to rethink my life goals and mission as a future physician.

I also learned to set up a long-term goal and plan out a career path, as well as ways to make the most of my remaining days in New York.

I am very grateful for JMSA’s generous support, allowing me to connect with Japanese medical professionals working in the US.

I would also like to thank Dr. Shimada once again for making this happen and for being encouraging.

As a student representative member for this upcoming school year, I hope to contribute to JMSA so that I can give back to what it has done for me.