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  3. Vol.6 Aiming to build a bridge between Vietnam and Japan,
    to learn together, and to live together.

Vol.6 Aiming to build a bridge between Vietnam and Japan,
to learn together, and to live together.

Medi Legato




This healthcare column features an interview with the Vietnamese medical staff Ms.DO THI YEN, who came to Japan to fulfill her dreams of working in the nursing/healthcare-related field here.

Currently, in addition to people entering Japan as part of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), there is also an increasing number of international students studying in Japanese universities and language schools, as well as those who are learning the Japanese language with concurrent training in their respective field of expertise in the hope of finding a job here. When I first spoke to Ms.DO THI YEN, who has been in Japan for a while, I was struck by her sincerity and her strong determination to achieve her goals.

In order to nurture talents among international students here for professional positions in Japan, it is not sufficient to simply focus on filling the existing job vacancies. Instead, we ought to support the long-term plans and careers of women, including those who are married and who have children. We should also support policies that have been proposed the spirit of nurturing talents who can contribute to their home countries in the future, thereby establishing an international network for Japan. Moving forward, we will continue to work in close consultation with experts from industries, the government, and academia, to support people who are contributing to individuals and society through the provision of healthcare services, including sharing and finding solutions for the transnational issues that they encounter.

Sonoko HIROSE,President &CEO,Medi Legato Co.,Ltd.

1.You graduated from a nursing school in Vietnam. Can you tell us why you chose to study nursing?

Since I was young, I have always loved to take care of people around me, and I had wanted to make that my career and live my life doing just that. Nurses always stay by the side of patients, and their job is to provide care to patients alongside doctors. I had no doubts in my mind that was what I wanted to do, so I enrolled in Hanoi Medical University with the aim of becoming a nurse.

2.When you were at Hanoi Medical University, you attended international exchange and research events at the International University of Health and Welfare. What were those events about, and why did you want to participate?

When I was in my final year of university, I found some opportunities to study abroad in Japan and learn more about nursing. I thought it was a good chance for me to make use of the scholarship program on offer to learn more about healthcare and nursing in Japan. Whether I was able to live and work in Japan in the future would depend on this opportunity to study abroad.
During my short-term study in Japan, I attended lectures at the University of Health and Welfare on topics such as human resources in the hospital, the current state of medical care, issues of declining birthrate and aging population, etc. The doctors and students even came together for skits where we split the roles of medical personnel and patients among ourselves.
We also had a very productive time discussing with Japanese doctors the methods for moving patients who are wheelchair-bound, how we can help to change the position of bedridden patients in their beds, as well as how these things are done differently in Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, and other countries.

3.Why did you choose to study in Japan?

I had wanted to become a nurse ever since I went to university. When I was in university, I had 2 chances to experience healthcare abroad, namely in Singapore and Japan. While I was only overseas for a short period of time, I visited the medical facilities of Singapore and Japan and became inspired to learn more about the latest medical services available so that I can be well equipped to handle the different conditions of patients. Training in the highly developed medical facilities of Japan made me decide to study here so that I can continue to deepen my professional expertise and competence in providing care to patients.

4.What do you enjoy and find challenging about learning the Japanese language?

I just completed a 2-year course in Japanese at the Osaka Japanese Language School. For foreigners, the most difficult thing about learning Japanese is Kanji. I am no exception and I need to write the same characters over and over again before I can remember them. Even for Kanji characters that I have spent a long time remembering, I will forget how to write them if I do not have the chance to use them, even if I can still read them. Because there is more than one reading for each Kanji character, it is impossible to understand the news and textbooks if you do not know the Kanji used. Therefore, I think my greatest challenge is understanding Kanji.
On the other hand, the more I study Japanese, the more I am fascinated by the beauty of the language. It is not enough to simply learn the language itself, but we also need to know advanced elements of Japanese such as the humble register, honorific form, and so on. As I become more familiar with the language, I encounter fewer awkward moments, and in particular, I find that I am able to converse with Japanese people more fluently. We can learn a lot from Japanese people, and so I am having a great time here even though I cannot see my parents as often.

5.What is your job now, and is there any work that you would like to do in Japan in the future?

Currently I work as a clerk and interpreter at a hospital in Osaka prefecture. This job requires a high level of Japanese, and I am making the most of this opportunity to acquaint myself with medical terminology. My dream is to become a nurse in Japan, and I will work hard so I can become someone who serves as a bridge between Japan and Vietnam.

6.What do you find difficult about being a nurse and nursing work in general in Japan?

I think the language barrier is a challenge. The different languages we speak often become an impediment to mutual understanding. We have to be very careful because our line of work concerns the very lives of people. Some words are not easily understood even in my native language, and they are even more difficult in Japanese. Communication is of paramount importance with regard to relieving the anxiety of patients and enhancing their psychological well-being. We also need to consider the cultural differences that go beyond language, and it is essential for us to learn more about Japanese culture so that we do not unwittingly come across as being disrespectful.
Also, nurses and caregivers are positions of great responsibility and we have to ensure that our knowledge is always up to date. Therefore, it can be stressful at times. I also have less time for both my family and myself, in addition to night shifts that we need to work, and these aspects of our job can be really hard for people who are not completely dedicated to what they are doing. However, whenever I see the smiles of patients, I feel like I want to carry on doing this forever no matter how hard it may be.

7.Before you started your job, you have actually spoken to us. What was on your mind then? Did it help you in any way to have spoken to us?

Before coming to Japan, I became a friend of Ms. Sonoko Hirose (President &CEO, Medi Legato Co.,Ltd.) on Facebook. I had wanted to ask her some questions about studying in Japan and how I can learn more about nursing here, but I hesitated every time as I did not have the courage to broach the question. After coming to Japan and studying Japanese for about a year, I was finally able to understand Japanese. But at the same time, I saw for myself how difficult it was to study nursing here, which made me very helpless. Hence, I decided to approach Ms. Hirose for some advice regarding my future prospects in Japan.
I was desperate when I sent a message to Ms. Hirose. After consulting with her, I had hope in my future once again. Even though my Japanese was awful and I could not communicate what I had wanted to say properly, I was able to get a clearer idea of my situation. Thanks to Ms. Hirose, I started working in the hospital. I was really lucky to have met her.

8.Finally, please leave a message for your Vietnamese juniors who would like to study abroad in Japan to learn Japanese and work in the healthcare industry here.

Japan is currently facing issues such as a serious labor shortage, declining birthrate, and aging population. The country needs more talents in the various industries, and there are many employment opportunities for Vietnamese people especially in the healthcare sector for jobs such as nurses and caregivers.
First of all, I would like to emphasize that nurses and caregivers have different job scopes in Japan, and there are cases of advertising agencies inadvertently using the wrong word when recruiting in Vietnam. Caregivers primarily visit residents at facilities such as nursing homes, day care centers, as well as at their own homes, to assist them in their daily routines and perform other care-related work. Specifically, they assist residents in changing their clothes, meals, waste management, showering, oral care, and other matters. Recreational activities for the residents are also part of their job scope for caregivers working at nursing facilities. Caregivers can aim for accreditation while they work, and there are standardized national programs for caregivers and nurses to be certified as "care workers" (kaigofukushishi).
The requirements for becoming a nurse in Japan are very strict. If you are interested in a healthcare-related job in Japan in the future, please work on learning the Japanese language once you have decided to study in Japan. Finally, studying abroad in Japan should not be a rash decision. Please consider it carefully and discuss your plans with people you can trust as well as other Vietnamese people who are working in healthcare in Japan, so that you can obtain the most accurate information en route to achieving your goals in life. If you do that, you will be able to overcome any problem that you encounter. I hope that everyone can be successful and stay happy. I will be waiting here in Japan.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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