Fail for bedside manner

June 13, 1997

JAPAN'S medical students should spend less time mastering medical facts and figures and more time working on improving their bedside skills, according to one of the country's leading doctor-lecturers.

Toshihiko Higashida, of the Training Education Centre of Medicine, believes medical students spend so much time cramming for their exams that they neglect important practical skills.

The objective for most medical students is to pass the national 320-question multiple-choice medical exam.

"Part of the problem", says medical student Minoru Yamamoto, "is that tuition fees at the medical faculties of Japanese universities are among the highest in the world. Many students simply can't afford to fail their exams".

A recent survey of the costs of studying medicine shows that tuition and accommodation expenses at leading medical faculties now amount to more than Pounds 15,000 a year.

The priority given to passing exams is blamed for the high level of public dissatisfaction with newly qualified doctors.

New medical school graduates, it is argued, do not have an appropriate bedside manner and sometimes lack understanding of patient problems.

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