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Japanese Healthcare Professionals Consult SMU Faculty to Learn and Share Best Practices

In 2011, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) played host to several faculty and healthcare professionals from Japan.  "In the past recent years SMU has increased its global recognition for our innovative teaching facilities, such as the Health Sciences Simulation Center, and our faculty," explains Scot Foster, PhD, Academic Vice President and Provost. 

In early February of that year, the University welcomed Minako Ito, RN, PHN, MSN, a professor from St. Luke's College of Nursing in Tokyo.  She teaches nursing fundamentals.  It was her curiosity about simulation-based learning with nursing students that spurred an interest to visit SMU.
During her visit, Professor Ito observed students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program conducting collaborative practice in a variety of clinical settings.  The nursing students practiced on the mannequins that respond like real patients, immersing themselves in caring for the mannequin-patient in a computer-simulated medical-surgical scenario.

Ms. Ito says she found the University and the School of Nursing to be state-of-the-art and "the faculty and students gracious, helpful, and exceptionally competent."  She adds the visit made her reflect on her own teaching style and the importance of implementing simulated learning at St. Luke's College in Tokyo.  

In April of that year, Dr. Tomoko Inoue, a professor and the chair of the Graduate School of Health Care Science at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, contacted SMU Associate Professor and Director of the SMU Case Management program Fusae Abbott, DNSc, RN, for her consultation.  Dr. Inoue is also the chair of the National Licensure Examination Committee at the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare in Japan.

"Dr. Inoue has received a three-year grant from the Japanese government for her project, Development of Postgraduate Educational Program for Mid-Level Providers (Advanced Practice Nurses) and the Innovation of a Healthcare Delivery Mode," explains Dr. Abbott.  "This is a $100,000 grant and Dr. Inoue is looking at our University to help shape the development of this healthcare project."

Dr. Inoue explained that the physician-driven healthcare delivery system in Japan is facing multiple challenges due to changes in demographics and lifestyle among the Japanese people, resulting in an increased number of people with chronic conditions.  A shift in delivery of healthcare services is necessary from hospital-based acute care to community-based out-patient and home health services.

"Mid-level practitioners [in Japan] could play a pivotal role in the new delivery model," explains Dr. Abbott. "Therefore, Dr. Inoue and her team are very interested in learning about educational strategies for mid-level providers, particularly Family Nurse Practitioners education in the US and our [FNP] program."

Due to the collaborative work between Drs. Inoue and Abbott, this past November SoN welcomed professors and healthcare professionals, Toyoaki Yamauchi, MD, RN, FNP, ND, PhD, Professor, and Rika Mitoma, RN, Ph.D Professor, both from the Department of Nursing at the Nagoya University School of Health Sciences and Yoshiko Sasaki, RN, PHN, PhD, Associate Professor and Rumi Maeda, RN, MSN, Assistant Professor, both from Tokyo Medical and Dental University.   

During their stay the visiting professors had the opportunity to observe teaching techniques of SMU faculty, used in the BSN health assessment lab, an FNP advanced health assessment lab, and simulation education at HSSC.  Dr. Yamauchi and his colleagues were anxious to learn more about the University's laboratory teaching for health assessment. 

Like Dr. Inoue, the main purpose of their visit was to learn and share best practice about education for advance practice nurses, particularly FNP.  The visiting professors met with Drs. Cecily Cosby, Fusae Abbott, and Valerie Dzubur to discuss and learn about the FNP curriculum. 

Future plans for their project include strong involvement of several SMU faculty.  Dr. Cosby is invited to give a presentation at a symposium in January 2012. The title of her presentation is "Current Issues and Future Challenges for Advanced Practice Nursing in the United States." This will be followed by Dr. Bill Stiers speaking on simulation teaching in February 2012, Dr. Pamela Minarik in summer 2012, and Ms. Celeste Villanueva in February 2013.  One of the FNP faculty will teach an advanced health assessment lab course in spring of 2013.

During her visit to Japan in November 2011, Dr. Abbott was invited to Tokyo Medical and Dental University and gave two presentations: Case Management Practice and Education in the US, and Chronic Disease Self-Management Program: Patient-Centered Approach.

"SMU is truly influencing nursing education and the healthcare delivery system in Japan," said Dr. Abbott.