Japanese OB/GYN Doctors Visit UW Health
MADISON - With the number of obstetricians and gynecologists in Japan declining, four doctors from that country recently visited UW Health with hopes of coming up with ideas to bring those numbers back up.
Dr. Ronald Magness, director of the division of reproductive sciences and vice chair for research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), served as an escort during their visit along with other faculty members and residents from obstetrics and gynecology.
Drs. Dan Lebovic and J. Preston Parry gave the Japanese doctors a tour of Generations Fertility Care, the recently opened in-vitro fertilization clinic. Dr. Tova Ablove and Tom Littlefield, a third year post-graduate trainee, showed the guests around the Ebling Library at the Health Sciences Learning Center.
The quartet also visited Meriter Hospital to get a look at the labor and delivery floors, research labs and the new simulation lab, which allows residents and students to practice procedures for difficult pregnancies that could impact the life of the mother and her baby.
Dr. Hiroaki Itoh, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine and a former visiting scientist in Magness’ lab from 1996 to 1998, was accompanied by the department chair, Dr. Naohiro Kanayama, and two residents, Yoshimasa Horikoshi and Kenta Kawai.
"It used to be Japanese medical schools produced 500 obstetricians and gynecologists a year, but recently, that number has dwindled to less than half," said Itoh.
Those shortages have led to longer hours for doctors who must juggle a tight schedule that includes seeing patients, conducting research, performing surgeries, teaching and delivering babies.
Itoh hopes to apply some of the things he observed at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology toward his own university and encourage more residents to choose obstetrics and gynecology for their career.
"The Japanese system is different than here where the system is more organized for educating doctors," said Itoh. "I cannot adopt everything (done at UW), but I want to help improve the education of our residents."
Magness said it was an honor for UW Health to be selected as the host department for these doctors.
"They specifically chose the obstetrics and gynecology departments at UW Health out of all ob/gyn departments in the country because of our infrastructure that links education, research and clinical missions," he said. "They applied for and received a prestigious Japanese government grant to do this."
While in Madison, the doctors also enjoyed hamburgers, frozen custard and other American treats not available in Japan. They even dined at Wasabi, a Japanese restaurant in Madison, where the business owner served as their host and spoke to them in their native language.
Kawai said it was his first trip to the United States, and he hopes to return someday.
"America is big," he said. "The land, the building, everything is huge."
Date Published: 10/11/2010