My four week medical elective at Osaka City University Hospital has been a fulfilling and academically satisfying adventure.
My first week was in Emergency and Critical Care Medicine where I was placed into the very kind and polite hands of 6 OCU medical students who helped translate the morning meeting for me and also guided me to classes and teaching sessions. My supervisor Professor Nishimura was very welcoming and spoke in English where possible and made an effort to include me in tutorials, practical skills sessions and the morning meetings. One of my standout memories of this rotation was assisting in the resuscitation of patients who came into the hospital via Ambulance for heart failure and assisting the doctors in performing CPR to revive the patient; something I had not yet done in my medical training in Australia. The proximity of my accommodation provided by OCU to the hospital made the overnight shifts easy to perform and allowed be to stay later on days that I wanted to learn more. I bonded with the medical students I was placed with well and was very impressed with their willingness to assist me and make sure I was not lost or confused; their behaviour in welcoming me to OCU set a very good impression in my mind of the high quality and calibre of medical students that are trained at OCU to become doctors in Osaka.
For my next two weeks I was in Orthopaedics under Professor Nakamura. Orthopaedics at OCU gave me an opportunity to not only experience washing into the operating theatre with the orthopaedic surgeons, but also to take part in tutorials during the two weeks which covered things such as lumbar puncture, shoulder and knee arthroscopy, cast creation with removal and also spinal and joint pathology. The professor made an effort to teach tutorials in English, and the medical students on my team also assisted me in translating and guiding me to the correct tutorial times and places. The surgical spinal team I was with was very kind in offering me the opportunity to scrub into the procedures I was at, and trusted me to stand with them and assist in the operations. Like other OCU medical students I was expected to examine a patient and present them to the morning meetings in English, which gave me a great opportunity to see how doctors examined Japanese patients, and also a chance to work on my presentation skills. The differences to how this was performed compared to Australia were very interesting to me, and I was very interested in the care the orthopaedic surgeons made in formulating their diagnosis, and conducting the various investigations to arrive at the best operation for the patient, which I later watched with my supervisor Takahashi-sensei. Overall I was very impressed with the professionalism of the orthopaedic department and the high quality of operations performed by the orthopaedic surgeons at Osaka City University Hospital.
For my last two weeks I was placed into the Plastic Surgery department being supervised by Professor Motomura. Plastic surgery is an area that I had not had previous teaching in, and so this area was particularly interesting for me to go into the operations and see how the plastic surgery procedures were performed. At the time there were no other medical students on the team; however I was well looked after by one of the junior surgeons who guided me to theatre, to the wards and also took me to lunch in the afternoons. The surgeons on the team were all very welcoming and where possible tried to explain the procedures they were performing. The head of department Professor Motomura impressed me immensely and I was amazed at some of the procedures he performed and the great results he achieved after his operations. The overall department was run very well, and I was very impressed with the surgeons who were all very skilled in theatre and all very friendly and welcoming to me, even at times when I must have been in their way. Professor Motomura took the team and myself to dinner during my time in the department and I was very lucky to have gotten to know the team better and enjoy some amazing German beer with them, which was a highlight of my time at OCU.
During the weekends and some weeknights I set to work exploring Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Wakayama; all of which were very accessible from the central station in Tennoji, a close 5 minute walk from my accommodation. I frequently walked to Dontonbori and lost myself in the multitude of Japanese food, clothing and technology shops and always found something new to explore in the city. I managed to visit Universal Studios Japan, the amazing Kobe and Wakayama Onsen and immersed myself in the unique temples and shrines in Kyoto.
Overall when considering my goals for this elective there were three main things I had hoped to accomplish. Firstly I had hoped to experience Japanese medicine and see how Japan treats its patients; secondly I had hoped to improve my Japanese language skills to a point where I could take a history from a patient; and thirdly I had hoped to better my medical knowledge in the field of emergency medicine, plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery. During my elective I was very impressed with the care that doctors took with their patients on the wards and also in the surgical theatres, I was able to further refine my Japanese speaking with the OCU medical students and also the doctors who assisted me when I made mistakes and also got invaluable teaching and tutorials which allowed me to develop arthroscopy techniques, knowledge in orthopaedic conditions, the process of patient resuscitation and CPR, skin-flap surgery and suturing techniques from a plastic surgery perspective.
In conclusion I have been very happy in my choice to come to Osaka City University to complete my international medical elective, the kindness and politeness of the Japanese people I had previously experienced in my past high school exchange has been reaffirmed and would definitely recommend OCU to other international students wanting to come to Japan.