Student Blog: Tokyo’s tiny medical school defied my expectations

A fifth-year medical student says the reality at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, one of the world's best small universities 2016, is very different from what she expected.
January 25 2016

See the Times Higher Education World’s Best Small Universities 2016 table here.

Chihiro Mano explains how her experience at Tokyo Medical and Dental University was far from what she expected

Chihiro Mano at TMDU

I grew up in Tokyo, Japan and I am now studying at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) as a fifth-year student. My major interests are obstetrics, gynecology and emergency medicine. I will start working as an intern after I graduate in March 2017.

There are several reasons why I decided to apply for TMDU, even though it is “small”. First of all, TMDU has several medical and dental departments, so it is possible to communicate with many different kinds of healthcare professionals. This is very important for our generation, in which a team approach to healthcare is highly valued. Also, because of the small number of students and the relatively high number of teachers, which is a characteristic feature of TMDU, we are able to have a close relationship with the teachers.

Location is another reason I prefer TMDU to other universities. All of its campuses are in the centre of Tokyo, and this makes TMDU one of the most easily accessible campuses in Japan. Speaking of the campus, the main campus in the Yushima/Ochanomizu district is very compact: hospitals, research centres and university facilities are all rolled into one. It is an educationally condensed environment that helps us to link clinical studies and laboratory research together.

As I expected before entering TMDU, students are able to have close interactions with teachers. All the teachers take very good care of us and support us educationally and personally. Because the university has only medical and dental schools, we do not have the opportunity to study subjects outside those fields. That could be interpreted as a negative feature; however, TMDU has an alliance with three other universities in Tokyo, which allows us to connect with students studying various majors and to exchange ideas and thoughts so that we can contribute even more to medical fields.

As it has only a small number of alumni, TMDU is not very well known in Japan. Although it’s one of the leading research institutions, many people don’t know where it is or what it is.

When I entered my university, I thought it would be a little bit boring to study at a “small” university, to be honest. The reality was totally different. Being a student at a small medical university is amazing. I made many great friends not only in medical fields but also in dentistry and nursing. I became very close with my teachers and gained a lot of experience in research and clinical studies. I’m very satisfied with these five years as a TMDU student and I am very much looking forward to the final year.

I’m planning to study at Australian National University this coming April and May as a part of my university’s international clinical clerkship programme. Although it may be very challenging,  I’m determined to make the best of it. I can’t wait for all the exciting experiences I will have, and the new people I will meet, in Australia.

Tokyo Medical and Dental University is ranked 12th in the Times Higher Education World’s Best Small Universities 2016.

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