Global Collaboration: SNHS and TMDU

2019-11-AUTUMN-2019-NEWSLETTER-JAPANESE-STUDENTS-AT-W-500X500.jpgThe University of Washington (UW) Bothell values global collaborations. Partnership in teaching and research between Mabel Ezeonwu, Associate professor in the SNHS and Akiko Kondo, Professor in International Nursing Development, Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) is an important part of an existing institutional relationship between UW and TMDU. The collaboration between the two nurses can be traced back to the time that they were classmates in the doctoral program at the UW School of Nursing. Dr. Kondo is currently an Affiliate Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. She is well traveled and maintains a constant presence at UW Bothell. She engages her students in yearly global immersion programs. Her students visit and participate in UW Bothell nursing classes in the summer. As an adjunct Instructor at TMDU since 2015, Dr. Ezeonwu conducts annual presentations in Dr. Kondo’s International Comparison Research class on Qualitative Research Methodology in International Context. Also, in Spring of 2019, Dr. Ezeonwu traveled to Tokyo and conducted a global health seminar on Utilizing Nursing Research, Education and Practice in Local-Global Communities. Both Drs. Kondo and Ezeonwu are currently collaborating on an international comparative research project on Health Behaviors of Japanese and U.S. Nursing Students.

Drs. Kondo and Ezeonwu invited a fellow colleague to share his story.  Dr. Ko Niitsu, (3rd from the right in photo), Assistant Professor at UWB School of Nursing & Health Studies, provided a lecture for those Japanese nursing students. He described his scholarly journey in nursing in the United States and stimulated their mind to compare the cultural differences and education / healthcare systems between the United States and Japan. At the end of his presentation, he asked the students to reflect upon their past life events, remind them why they want to become a nurse, and imagine how they want to live from now on based on what they learned from this visit. Their program’s goal is to educate nurses to become world recognized leaders in nursing, and Dr. Niitsu firmly believes that their interactions with UWB School of Nursing & Health Studies and other fellow Washingtonians have deeply inspired them to achieve their goal.

The students, Wakana Fushimi, Kokoro Kobayashi, Mihoka Okuhara, and Meg Kotani, described their experiences as part of this international partnership.  We appreciate their willingness to tell their stories.

Wakana Fushimi, 4th year nursing student from TMDU

I participated in program at the University of Washington in August this year. While visiting various hospitals, welfare facilities, and research facilities, I participated in a lecture at the University of Washington, Bothell, for a day. I learned through student presentations about leaders' thinking about work, such as looking at bigger problems rather than getting busy with daily work and seeing problems as opportunities. Most of the students went to school while working. On-the-job training is important in learning nursing skills. I was inspired by the American system that gives them access to higher education while working.

Dr. Niitsu, who became an assistant professor at the University of Washington Bothell, gave us a lecture. He took time for us even though he was busy. He explained his experience, the current state of mental health in the United States and the educational system. The current state of medical care in the United States cannot be generalized, and the situation varies greatly from state to state. He mainly commented comparing Washington and other inland states. He explained the current state of suicide in the United States and the differences of situations of patients with mental illness from Japan. Through his lecture, I realized how I knew nothing about the current state of medical situations in foreign countries as well as the current state in Japan. 

Even if he faced a difficult wall, he always overcame the narrow gate. He introduced Steve Jobs’ words: "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." to us. I felt that if I walked believing in the narrow gate like him, the road would open.

I will face various problems as a nurse in the future. I want to grasp these problems from a big point of view like I learned in the lecture at Bothell.

I would like to thank all those involved in this program.

Kokoro Kobayashi, 2nd year nursing student from TMDU

I really appreciate the opportunity of joining the lecture held in UW Bothell. I enjoyed the students’ presentation about leadership, the discussion with panelists and the lecture about the difference of medical situation between the USA and Japan which Professor Niitsu gave us.

By listening to students’ presentation, I learned that there are many types of leaderships. In addition, I realized that people who work as a leader in nursing field select the best way of leadership by judging the situation and people around. Before I listen to the presentation, I did not know that there are so many kinds of leaderships. I will bring this idea to Japan and utilize when I work as a nurse. I was also surprised that the students included their own reflection of the groupwork in their presentation. In Japan, we do not include them, but I thought that we should add it to our presentation. The reflection made the groupwork more practical. “Leadership” is difficult to learn if we only listen to the lecture. Therefore, Professor Ezeonwu’s class was truly good for students to learn how to demonstrate leadership.

We have few opportunities to learn about leadership in Japan. However, in order to cooperate with other medical professionals, nurses have to have leadership. I will keep the important things I learned from this opportunity in my mind and work as a nurse who connect many people.

From Professor Niitsu’s lecture, I learned that how difficult it is to become a nurse in the USA. I thought it was really competitive. Also, I was surprised when I heard the length of psychiatric hospitalization in the USA. Due to the difference of culture, system and way of thinking, there is huge gap between the USA and Japan. From now on, I try to keep up with other country’s trends and world trend as well as Japanese trend.

This interaction with UW Bothell left a profound impression upon me. I will make the most of this new stimuli and study hard in Japan to become a useful and practical nurse.

Mihoka Okuhara, 4th year nursing student from TMDU

I visited UW Bothell in my overseas training program in Seattle.

First, I participated in a class about leadership. In the class, students gave presentations about what they learned from the interview with leader nurses in the community. The contents of the presentation and questions are very concrete because they already had clinical experience. I was surprised that many nurses attend university while working. In Japan, we have system to study in the university while working part time in hospitals, but it is common to quit job or take a leave of absence while studying.

I will be a hospital nurse from next April, but now have no clinical experience. So, I think it takes time for me to be a leader. However, what I learned in this class was very meaningful for me because it was full of important lessons to work as a nurse.

We received a lecture from Professor. Niitsu. He talked about nursing education and mental health in the US, and his career so far. I was interested in the big difference of the length of stay in psychiatric ward and the outcome between Japan and the US. In Japan, the average length of stay in psychiatric ward is more than 200 days because we have many psychiatric beds and few places for people with mental problem in community. On the contrary, the average length of stay in the US is less than a week, but some people become homeless because they don’t have place to go. We have the same problem of shortage of place for people with mental problems in the community, but the outcome is different because we have different systems and culture. I think these differences is very interesting and very good learning for me.

Meg Kotani, 4th year nursing student from TMDU

For my overseas study program to Seattle, I had the chance to attend one of Professor Mabel’s class about leadership. There, students were required to find a leader and make a presentation from the interview. I am in a program to practice leadership skills and management skills myself, so it was interesting, and it left me with things to consider. All the groups interviewed “what do you think makes a good leader?” Some of the answers that stuck with me were; “they are good at bringing in the right people to the table” “knows her limits” “encourages creative thinking” “reframe problems as opportunities and challenges… they are problems but problems to be solved” “approachable” “create occasion for people to gather” “a good role model.” Each of the leaders categorized themselves as to which type of leader they were, and it differed. Therefore, it made sense that what they thought made them a good leader varied. I think the type of leader needed differs depending on where you are and when they need one. I respected the fact the leaders saw the things they believe a good leader should have inside them, since we all know that it’s hard to practice what we preach. One leader said, “leader is not something you seek out…you are led to this position” and I believe this must be true. I realized that I did not have to pretend to be any less to have people help me or want to work with me. I learned the importance of knowing yourself, because then you can look for ways to educate yourself on parts that needs a little more confidence. I never felt right whenever I was labeled a leader because I did not know the way to acquire that position, but now I know better.

Each leader had a message to the young nurses/nurses-to-be and I was grateful to hear them at this point in my life. I felt relieved when I heard one leader encouraged us to be curious and not hesitate, assuring us that there is always a way to go back. Knowing that there are people who wants you to succeed is empowering. My motivation spiked as I was in that classroom meeting all the leaders and students because they were all glowing with energy pursuing further education whenever possible. Because I was feeling the spread of positivity, when the leaders cautioned us how negativity spreads like wildfire, I knew I had to be careful and learn to deal with toxic environments in a positive way. Another leader taught us to be resilient, and never forget why you became a nurse.

Resilience was a topic Professor Niitsu focused on in his lecture. He explained it as being able to take all the negativity and use it as a fuel to do something positive. In his lecture, he talked us through his journey as a Japanese male nurse in the U.S. I never thought it would be easy, and now I had his story to back it up. Meeting him did not change the fact that life is hard, but it changed my way of looking at it. In his lecture, he shared a message from Steve Jobs that he takes to heart. He said, people who can think even the meaningless time has great value are able to spend a more fruitful life, so we must believe that all the things we are experiencing now will be connected to the future somehow. Therefore, I will treasure each day believing his message is true and try to be the best version of myself every day.