Since the launch of the SMARTER Grant in 2010, more than fifteen residents and one fellow from the Shizuoka Family Medicine (SFM) Program have come to the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine and participated in short-term rotations under the guidance of U-M faculty.
While at U-M, the resident visitors have an opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities. They spend a majority of their time in the outpatient clinic at the Japanese Family Health Program (JFHP) at Domino's Farms Family Medicine Clinic where many Japanese patients are seen by bilingual family physicians. This is where they learn first hand what family medicine looks like in real life and how family medicine clinics are run. At JFHP, resident visitors also have observed the Group Prenatal Visits conducted by Dr. Little and Dr. Hashikawa, where prenatal visits are done in a group to provide prenatal teaching and support building for the Japanese pregnant women and families who usually have language barriers due to their recent immigration to the US.
Residents have also participated in Department of Family Medicine Grand Rounds, M&M Conferences and Resident Conferences, and also had opportunities to observe the inpatient family medicine services in Family Mother Baby (FMB) and in University Family Medicine (UFM) services. Some of the resident visitors have observed the palliative care service at U-M.
SFM resident visitors have had the opportunity to learn how to conduct sensitive exams such as breast, pelvic and GU examinations from standardized patient instructors (SPIs). This program is especially valuable for the Japanese learners who usually learn these exams by simply observing their attendings, and do not have an opportunity to learn directly from the patients' point of view in conducting these examinations. One of the residents commented, "SPI was wonderful […] and it was worth coming to the US just for being able to go through this session!" (Learn more about the standardized patient education at U-M)
Some residents had the opportunity to take CME courses on women's health update and family medicine update. Other activities have encompassed observing palliative care service, sports medicine, mental health, and participating in Block Month (orientation month for the 1st and 2nd year residents) at U-M. They also have an opportunity to meet with U-M medical students and family medicine residents who have strong interest in Japan.
Through the experience of seeing the US style family medicine with their own eyes, we hope that the residents will start imagining and thinking about what family medicine that fits the Japanese situation would be. We also hope that by meeting and exchanging ideas with US family physicians will give them an opportunity to find a role model and an inspiration for their future practice in family medicine.