During the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake of 2011, I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Satomi, the medical director of Tohoku University Hospital, during my voluntary trip to Miyagi a week after the disaster. His vision from then was to provide his medical residents with a glimpse of the U.S. health care system. The JMSA Tohoku Medical Resident Education Program was launched soon after in December 2012, where six medical residents from Miyagi prefecture, working in hospitals that were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, flew to New York with the opportunity of observing medical practices in the United States. The program initially began with Dr. Shunichi Homma from the Cardiology department of Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Robert Yanagisawa from the Endocrinology department at Mount Sinai Medical center and I, from 20 East Medical, a primary care private practice in midtown Manhattan, serving as mentors. The program quicky grew to 12 residents including 3 from Fukushima prefecture and 3 from Iwate prefecture with additional U.S. mentors joining as well. We expanded locations to the Bronx, Brooklyn, Westchester, New Jersey and even Philadelphia. Unfortunately, just has the world came to a halt with the COVID-19 pandemic, the program too had to be suspended. As the world moved on from the dark days of the pandemic, we too were able to reinstate the program. 3 residents from the three prefectures came to New York in September and observed at various practices. We once again had 4 new mentors to assist the program as we provided the residents from Japan various options in different fields of medicine to observe. We met the chaperoning professors from the respective universities, and they too were delighted to see the program continue. Medicine in the United States has led the world in terms of treatment options and care. However, we often have areas we can improve, including the insurance system, liability issues and other obstacles to providing excellent care. I personally hope the residents from Japan will both learn and incorporate what we have to offer as well be proud of and continue to share the advances of the Japanese system. We look forward to welcoming the residents again in April 2024.The program seeks new preceptors for the residents so please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested to be volunteer your time to be a mentor for the Tohoku Resident Education Program.
Kamal Ramani, MD
Chair, JMSA Tohoku Medical Education Program
View more photos here