Japan’s healthcare environment has changed greatly since the start of the 21st century. For example, dramatic progress in life sciences has led to increasingly advanced and sophisticated medical care; Japan’s rapidly declining birthrate and aging population have led to changes in social structures and disease patterns; and there is greater public awareness of health maintenance and health promotion. To respond flexibly to these changes, there is an urgent need to develop human resources in the field of health sciences, who have a good education, sense of humanity and advanced expertise.
To deal with these conditions, the Faculty of Health Sciences was established at Okayama University Medical School in October 1998, and the Graduate School of Health Sciences Master’s Course (Major in Health Sciences) was established in April 2003. Along with the Doctor’s course established later, the plan is to develop graduates with more advanced skills, expertise and development abilities, to serve as leaders in practice, research and education in health sciences.
The aim of health sciences is to achieve integrated health and medical care which combines health, medicine and welfare, while emphasizing the dignity of human life. To this end, foundations for learning and research in nursing and health sciences need to be established based on positive evidence. Researchers and educators need to be nurtured who are sensitive to patient needs and family needs, and have high ethical standards, ability to make comprehensive judgments, advanced expertise and practical skills. Accordingly, the Graduate School of Health Sciences Doctor’s course nurtures educators and researchers able to carry out research and development on programs, systems, equipment and technologies related to health, medicine and welfare, based on expertise in each area of nursing, radiological technology and medical technology. Another aim of the Doctor’s course is for these independent researchers to provide “health promotion based on inter-professional work.”
“Inter-professional work” is coordination and cooperation between professionals from different fields who join forces to work together, transcending the confines of their own profession. The concept of health promotion is the process of enabling individuals to control and improve their own health. Coordination and cooperation between different professions is critical for activities supporting health and the ability to control it. In particular, to take part in activities promoting health in a way that integrates medicine, health and welfare, it is important to establish interaction and cooperative relations among many professionals. It is also necessary to nurture professionals who can carry out creative research and education while developing interdisciplinary interaction with people in other fields, making the most of their respective expertise. At the same time, by adopting a basis of inter-professional work with a view to achieving health promotion, we can develop the unique identity of the Graduate School of Health Sciences comprised of three disciplines.
The Doctor’s course requires students to complete “Inter-Professional Work” as a core subject shared by each specialized field: nursing, radiological technology and medical technology. Students go through a process of exploring issues and learning from each other, on their way to the common goal of health promotion. Nurses, radiological technologists, medical technologists and other students with different educational backgrounds, such as medicine, welfare studies, engineering, science and social science, learn the significance and methodology underlying inter-professional coordination and cooperation. This aims to develop diverse perspectives among students, cultivate new ideas not tied to a specific area of study, and foster abilities to think logically and creatively.