February 28, 2014

Four faculty members traveled to Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

Shizuoka Governor, Shizuoka Family Medicine Program Leaders, and U-M Faculty
Shizuoka Governor, Shizuoka Family Medicine Program Leaders, and U-M Faculty

Four faculty members traveled to Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, in January as a part of the Shizuoka-University of Michigan Advanced Residency Training, Education and Research in Family Medicine (SMARTER-FM) Project. The project, now in its fourth year, had a goal to support the development of a new family medicine residency program that would demonstrate the feasibility of training Japanese family medicine residents in care of the entire family and the entire lifespan or "womb to tomb care."

Philip Zazove, M.D., the George A. Dean, M.D. Chair of Family Medicine, Michael D. Fetters, M.D., M.P.H., M.A., professor and leader of the SMARTER-FM project, Eric P. Skye, M.D., associate professor and associate chair for educational programs, and James E. Aikens, Ph.D., associate professor, were the latest members to travel to Japan in support of the project. They were joined also by Benjamin F. Crabtree, Ph.D., Director of Research at the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, who is collaborating on the project.

As Dr. Zazove visited the program, his goal was to evaluate its progress, provide input on strategic planning for the next stages of the program development, and ascertain U-M's impact on the program. He also shared wisdom and knowledge on the operation of a family medicine department with Hamamatsu Medical School, who just established a new department of family and community medicine.

"I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the Shizuoka Family Medicine program and my discussions with its faculty, residents, and administrators. It is clear that Japan is very interested in establishing Family Medicine in order to provide the highest quality primary care possible for their citizens," Dr. Zazove noted. "The program's leaders are appreciative of the expertise that Michigan brings and desirous of continuing our relationship to continue to grow Family Medicine throughout their country. We are committed to do this as much as we can.”

The faculty members attended high-level meetings with the Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, the mayors of the cities and towns who benefit from the program, hospital directors affiliated with the residency programs and residency program staff. Additionally, they presented lectures and workshops, precepted and provided consultations on challenging clinical cases for residents. See a complete list of the lectures provided below.

View photos from the latest visit to Japan on Flickr →.

The SMARTER-FM project has been a resounding success. The program has helped the Shizuoka Family Medicine (SFM) program grow from scratch to a current level of nine residents, two fellows, and three residency program graduates. Teaching faculty numbers have grown as well to four program-based attendings, four hospital-affiliated attendings, and three visiting faculty attendings. In related developments, the Japanese government, for the first time, will formally recognize the specialty of general/family medicine in 2017. The SFM program has agreed upon continuation of the program for an additional year through 2015. Dr Fetters noted that future focus areas are still under development, but will likely include palliative care, faculty development, and research infrastructure, among other things.

The success, continuation and growth of this exciting, international project has cemented the Department's presence as an international leader in family medicine. It has provided faculty a diverse cultural setting in which to teach, learn and conduct research and has helped to identify areas for collaboration with international partners. The program has also encouraged and supported the Department's efforts in technology with the development of bi-lingual education modules and live-streaming of grand round presentations. The growth of this project is sure to encourage the continuation of new and exciting progress within the Department.

Dr. Fetters reflects, "This project illustrates the tangible benefits of international collaboration in the support of family medicine growth in other countries. I am grateful to all the faculty and staff who have helped to make the program work."

To learn more about the SMARTER-FM program and the Department's work in Japan, please visit http://medicine.umich.edu/dept/jfhp/smarter-fm-project →.

Complete list of lectures:

  • "Writing an abstract for an original project" (Dr. Fetters and Dr. Crabtree) attended by SFM residents, fellows, and faculty
  • "Using Relaxation Training to Treat Anxiety in Primary Care" (Dr. Aikens) attended by SFM residents, fellows, and faculty
  • "How to use SMARTER FM Website" (Dr. Fetters) attended by SFM residents, fellows, and faculty
  • Lecture & Workshop, "Developing Surveys for Family Medicine Research" (Dr. Aikens with assistance from Dr. Crabtree and Dr. Fetters) attended by family medicine and other health science researchers, SFM residents, fellows, and faculty
  • "Benefits of Having Departments of Family Medicine" (Dr. Zazove) attended by Hamamatsu University School of Medicine faculty, medical students, and staff
  • "When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes: Hearing Loss from a Family Physician's Viewpoint" (Dr. Zazove) attended by SFM residents, fellows, and faculty
  • "SFM Resident Self Competency Survey Report Format" (Dr. Fetters with assistance from Dr. Skye) attended by SFM residents, fellows, and faculty
  • "Primary Care Genetics" (Dr. Zazove) attended by SFM residents, fellows, and faculty
  • Lecture & Workshop, "Providing Leadership in Medical Education: Fulfilling the Role of Advisor and Mentor" (Dr. Skye) attended by junior and senior faculty both from within SFM program and outside the program as far away as Mie Prefecture, and senior SFM residents and fellows.


Mr. Hattori and Dr. Zazove

In addition to evaluating the program and meeting with hospital and government leaders, Dr. Zazove, who is deaf, was able to meet with Mr. Hattori. Mr. Hattori is the first medical student at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine that is hard of hearing. Dr. Zazove presented him with a signed copy of his book, "When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes: Memoirs of a Deaf Doctor." Dr. Zazove also met with leaders of the medical school to discuss ways to better serve Mr. Hattori and others.




Eric P. Skye, M.D.

Eric P. Skye, M.D.

Associate Professor
Associate Chair for Educational Programs
Director of Paths of Excellence Program, Medical School
M-Home House Director, Medical School