Clinical placements

Lessons from nurse education in Japan

During an exchange programme with a university in Japan, nursing students from the UK gained valuable insights into a different culture and approach to healthcare, and learned how they can use this knowledge to improve practice at home

During an exchange programme with a university in Japan, nursing students from the UK gained valuable insights into a different culture and approach to healthcare, and learned how they can use this knowledge to improve practice at home


Students and staff from Canterbury Christ Church University
visit an ambulance station in Hyogo prefecture, Japan.

Last year we had the chance to join an exchange programme with Konan Women’s University in the Japanese city of Kobe.

We wanted to gain insight into nursing education and practice in another country, and were excited about experiencing the differences in culture and approach to healthcare.

We worried that a different language and culture could be barriers to learning, but our hosts were warm, welcoming and understanding, helping us to adapt to our new environment.

One of the main differences in pre-registration education for nursing students in Japan is the length of training – the course is four years, compared with three years in the UK.

Academic focus

The Japanese approach also has a far greater academic focus, with less time spent in clinical placements. Japanese nursing students only need to complete 12 months of clinical placement, with most done in the final two years of the course.

Nursing students in Japan take a final national exam in year four, which tests everything they have been taught during the course. They also do sports as part of their training to help maintain physical and mental well-being. This could be useful for nursing students in the UK to help reduce stress levels and burnout.


Konan Women's University in Kobe, Japan.

Pre-registration nurse education in Japan is very person-centred, with students taught how to practice foot bath and massage. Bathing is very important in Japanese culture. In particular, soaking in natural hot spring waters containing minerals has been linked with healing for hundreds of years.

Benefits of bathing

It has been proved to increase blood circulation, promote relaxation, improve metabolism and enhance deep and restful sleep. This practice also gives nurses the opportunity to build up therapeutic relationships with patients and monitor skin integrity.

A foot bath and massage given to us by some first-year students enabled us to appreciate the ceremony linked to the activity. There is a clear routine and order in which the tasks should be carried out, and an attention to detail that we saw in all aspects of nursing care we observed in Japan. We also noticed a clear link between Japanese culture and traditions and the evidence base behind care.

Post-qualification, there is more support available to newly registered nurses in Japan. As well as support to develop practical skills, they also have supervision and pastoral support. This is similar to preceptorship in the UK, but more in-depth.

Motivational messages

At one hospital we visited, newly qualified staff receive motivational video messages and cards to promote their professional development and enhance emotional well-being. This could be beneficial for nurses in the UK in the months immediately after registration.

This exchange has been invaluable to our learning, giving us insights into nurse education in a different country and culture and highlighting how we can use this knowledge to improve our practice in the UK.

We would highly recommend students to take any opportunity to experience an exchange programme or overseas placement in Japan.


James Moore, Sudina Pun and Aimee Vacarello are third-year nursing students at Canterbury Christ Church University 

 

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