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Med Teach. 2008;30(9-10):846-50. doi: 10.1080/01421590802298207.

Medical education in Japan: a challenge to the healthcare system.

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Gifu University School of Medicine, Yanagidol-l, Gifu, Japan.


In response to a change in health and societal need, the system of medical education in Japan has undergone major reform within the last two decades. Although the general health status of Japanese citizens ranks amongst the highest in the world, a rapidly increasingly elderly population, a social insurance system in crisis and a decrease in the number of practicing physicians is severely affecting this enviable position. To compensate, the Government has reversed its previous decision to reduce the number of doctors. Concomitantly, public opinion is changing to that of support and sympathy for the practicing physician. In order to produce a new breed of future doctors, Japanese medical education has undergone major reform: problem-based learning and clinical skills development has been instituted in most medical schools, more rigid assessment methods, ensuring competency and fitness to practice have been introduced, and there has been an increase in purposeful clinical attachments with a hands-on approach rather than a traditional observation model. A new postgraduate residency programme, introduced in 2004, hopes to improve general competency levels, while medical schools throughout the country are paying attention to modern medical education and faculty development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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