Recently, I’ve been thinking about how there are many differences between Japan and the U.S. – ones you wouldn’t normally think about. On my first day, there was an earthquake that led to classes being cancelled the next day because trains weren’t running, offices were a mess because things fell, and people were worried about the aftershock. Having visited Japan two years ago during a bigger earthquake, I didn’t think much of it, but a lot of students from California who have never experienced an earthquake of this magnitude were a bit more anxious. However, aside from the Japanese locals who lived in the areas with landslide, flood, and tsunami warnings, most locals just went about their daily life.
While discussing the incident with my host family, it ultimately led to the topic of nursing because my host mother is a nurse, and I’m a nursing student. She told me that in Japan, there are generally 3 nurses for 40 patients at night. Every two weeks, they shift from working 8 hours a day for 5 days a week to working 16 hours a day for 3 days a week. This is different from the U.S. where nurses generally work 12 hours a day for 3 – 4 days a week (it of course varies depending on if you’re working in a clinic, school, etc.), and every two weeks alternate between the day shifts (i.e. 6am – 6pm) and graveyard shifts (6pm – 6am). But because I brought up that I was interested in these nursing differences because I want to be culturally sensitive to patients in other countries if I do pursue global nursing (via google translate), my host mother told me she could try asking her supervisor if I could visit one of the departments of the hospital she works at. It would really be exciting if I could because hearing and shadowing are two different things!
And of course, with my wonderful luck, I also happened to get an infection within the first few days. Right now, I can’t speak because I lost my voice, but the great part is that I’ve been able to see how campus health centers and clinics work. One of the clinics I visited had this very nifty slipper dispensing machine, where after you take off your shoes to go indoors, you push a button, and slippers come out of the bottom. When you’re finished, you put the slippers back through the slot at the top, and it goes back down into the machine to be dispensed for the next person!
Additionally, clinics tend to be closed between 1pm – 4pm or 12pm – 5pm, but they are typically open from 9am – 12pm, and 5pm – 7pm. This varies depending on the clinic, but for the two I’ve visited, it seemed to be the case. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and all workers are very friendly and excited to help. Fortunately, I had my sensei with me to act as a translator, but some locations offer translation services where if you call a day or two in advance, someone can show up at the clinic to act as an interpreter for you. They have translators for more than just English, and Japanese though, so I felt incredulous being here! Overall, despite still recovering from illness, I’ve been having a great time, and simultaneously learning a lot!