national

Number of medical graduates in Japan lowest among OECD countries

27 Comments

Japan has the least number of people who have graduated from medical schools per 100,000 population among 35 comparable member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to the latest OECD data.

The number of new medical graduates in Japan was 6.8 per 100,000 population in 2017, while the average across OECD countries was 13.1, it said.

The figure was the highest in Ireland at 24.9, followed by Denmark at 21.5.

"Japan recently took action to increase the number of students admitted to medical schools, but this is not yet reflected in the number of new medical graduates due to lags," OECD said in its report Health at a Glance 2019.

The report said that the ratio of medical doctors who were over age 55 was 37 percent in Japan in 2017, higher than the OECD average of 34 percent.

"Ageing of the medical workforce is a concern, as doctors aged 55 and over are generally expected to retire in the following decade and need to be replaced in order to prevent a decline in overall physician numbers," OECD said.

Japan also had the lowest percentage of female doctors among the 36 countries at 21 percent against the OECD average of 48 percent, followed by South Korea at 23 percent and Luxembourg and the United States at 36 percent. Latvia and Estonia had the highest percentage of female doctors at 74 percent.

The latest survey covered 44 countries including nonmember countries such as China and Russia.

© KYODO

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
Login to comment

Well, perhaps medical institutions in Japan should stop discriminating against women.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Japan recently took action to increase the number of students admitted to medical schools, but this is not yet reflected in the number of new medical graduates due to lags," OECD said in its report Health at a Glance 2019.

Due to "lags" ? What the hell is a "lag"?

Kind of hard to increase the number of doctors when you have medical schools that are biased against women entering the schools.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Well, perhaps medical institutions in Japan should stop discriminating against women.

> Kind of hard to increase the number of doctors when you have medical schools that are biased against women entering the schools.

Too right.

Japan's mysogynistic ways continuing to bite it in the arse.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

We don't have to worry, AI can do the jobs of medical doctors. That is the future worry.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

"Japan recently took action to increase the number of students admitted to medical schools, but this is not yet reflected in the number of new medical graduates due to lags,"

Japan has the least number of people who have graduated from medical schools per 100,000 population among 35 comparable member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to the latest OECD data.

In other words, they haven't been successful in increasing the number of students admitted to medical school because of lower-than-expected number of students applying and they're trying to figure out how why and having no answers, their excuse is "lag"?

I'm curious about the number of people in Japan who applied for premed or med schools per 100,000 population and how it compares to the other 35 OECD countries. Anybody got those statistics?

If you have lower number of applicants to begin with, regardless of gender, don't expect high number of graduates.

The cynic in me suggests that young people nowadays prefer less difficult and less demanding and more "fun" career paths, which rules out medical school.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

If you look at the same OECD data set, you'll see that Japan is still churning out a large number of nursing graduates. This is where statistics can be misleading imo. To what extent does Japan (or any ageing society) need more fully trained doctors? Is nursing care is actually more relevant to healthcare outcomes? What is the doctor to nurse ratio in these countries and what is the ideal ratio? How easy is it to become a nurse vs a low level junior doctor in each country?

For example, Austria has the highest per capita rate of doctors in the OECD but the number of nurses per capita in Austria seems very low (about half of the number compared to Germany). What accounts for the difference? Is it actually a quality of care issue or just a bureaucratic licensing issue?

https://data.oecd.org/healthres/medical-graduates.htm#indicator-chart

7 ( +7 / -0 )

If you look at the same OECD data set, you'll see that Japan is still churning out a large number of nursing graduates. 

The nursing numbers are deceiving, as the education requirements for nurses here differs greatly from other OECD countries as well.

While it's wiki, the information is rather "informative"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nursing_in_Japan#Types_of_nurses

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yet more proof of poor planning for the inevitable aging of Japanese society. The aged population swelling just as lots of the doctors retire. All entirely predictable from demographics.

A lot of GP type medicine can be automated now, that flu test for example, so this may not be the problem it was twenty years ago. If someone has a fluttery heartbeat, an Apple Watch can monitor it and give warnings. On the downside, younger Japanese eat a worse diet and sit around more (deskwork, computers, etc) than older ones, so the next generation of retirees are likely to be less healthy than the current ones. Even with less smoking.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Here are some facts about Japanese medical education. Most here appear to not know about the system in Japan.

Just 10 years ago, the percentage of women in medical school was 32%. I wonder what's happened in the last 10 years?

It's also only been 13 years since Japanese medical students have been required to serve a two year internship after graduation. They don't have to work 80 hours in slave-like conditions as some countries require. They are only required to work 40 hours per week and are paid a reasonable salary.

There is no such thing as a general practitioner or GP specialty. Board certified specialization is only becoming standardized recently. It wasn't that long ago that a doctor could simply change their specialty or focus of their own practice by simply putting up a new sign. Of course, they could not suddenly become a surgeon, since no hospital would allow it.

Almost all Japanese medical school students start directly out of high school. Very few apply after already graduating from university. There is no "pre-med" curriculum or requirement to have a pre-med degree before taking tests for medical school entrance. So, Japanese medical education is 6 years of medical school, followed by a 2 year residency, then licensing. A licensed doctor could be 27 years old in Japan.

As a comparison, US requires 4 years undergraduate, followed by 4 years of medical school and 3-7 years in residency before licensing. So most licensed doctors are about 30 years old or more.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Do they have WiFi in the classrooms?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

For the past couple of months I have been having serious medical care including, a range of scans, including echo, CT several MRI including a full body. Time in hospital to have a biopsy.

I have prostrate cancer but fortunately the cancer didn't spread anywhere else. I pee a lot but otherwise there are no other real symptoms.

I have been very impressed with the skills and knowledge and the high level of care including the nurses. Some of the nurses have master degrees and earn ¥800,000/month. Didn't know that.

The next step it to have an operation to have it removed.

When I was in the MRI especially the full body scan, which takes about 50 mins in like a high tech coffin including my head in a helmet. Very hot unable to move. I was thinking now amazing that we have this very advanced technology and we live in a country which provides it.

Previous treatment would have been chemo or the knife. Today there are robot operations and the one I will have, is called the de vince operation, when a large cut is no longer necessary. Still controlled by a surgeon but much less intrusive. Two week hospital stay. But not all hospital provide it so I will travel to our former city Kobe to have it there.

These robot operation require a high level of training and skill. They are available for a wide range of operations. The cost of a single unit is more than ¥100 million plus the costs of training which is why not all hospitals have them.

For the guys over 45 please ensure you are having prostrate/PSA tests and maybe you won't need what I am now having.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Other countries have more places available at medical schools, allow qualified women to enter medical school and naturalized citizens to practice medicine if they pass the requisite exams. Japan's problem is that the exams ocur too early, the pass marks are too high (failure means sitting out a year), they focus on the same subjects as a normal curriculum rather than subjects related to medicine (give specialised tests after students complete a relevant undergrad degree) alter the number of places at med schools (specified by the govt) and allow students who pursue medicine to attend school for reduced rates if they work in public hospitals in rural areas for a designated time after completing their studies. As with most problems in Japan, the real culprits are centralized planning, entrenched vested interests, the unwillingness to change and the inability to think outside the box.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Taiwan is the most advanced country for medical AI and they are doing some amazing stuff over there.

MRI scans have many images which must be careful scanned by a doctor requiring a considerable amount of time, enough and concentration.

In Taiwan they are using AI to make the scans and can produce the results in less than 30 minutes. I had to return after several days for the results of the MRI scans but with AI they can be given during the one appointment.

AI is also starting to be used in Japan.

We are entering a very different medical world with the new technologies.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If there are not enough people who qualify as physicians, Japan may wish to consider increasing number of practical, licensed nurses.  Not uncommon for medical care in U. S. to be obtained through a nurse's office.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wouldn't read too much into this tbh. Hundreds of thousands of med students study/graduate abroad every year hence some rather 'strange' numbers on the OECD link provided by M3.

Most eastern european &/or Baltic countries have launched a 'study medicine in Estonia/Romania/Lithuania etc' program in recent years and attract thousands of euros, north am etc seeking an affordable (and in some cases easier - gaining admission to medical schools is more difficult in some countries than it is in others) alternative for their medical studies, in their own language (yep you can study med in eng, german, french, possibly italian, in some east euro counties). That's why countries like canada, the us, france etc have relatively low numbers and why Belgium (esp with francophones) and Ireland -who've always attracted thousands of foreign students- are ranked 1 & 2.

Nothing alarming about Japan's med students numbers; doctor-population ratio, overall quality, right number of docs per specialty (probably need more urologists than say pediatricians in 2019 japan) etc are imo much more important/relevant. Many developed countries are actually trying to make GP and other 'unsexy' specialties more attractive as a career option (most med students want to be cardiologist, plastic/neuro surgeons, anesth etc...wonder why $$!!??)

The report said that the ratio of medical doctors who were over age 55 was 37 percent in Japan in 2017, higher than the OECD average of 34 percent.

Again not very significant.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This shouldnt be seen as a "problem " at all. Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world, even with this so-called shortage of medical graduates.

Japanese government should not change the ratio of medical students at all. Robots and AI are the future of medicine, and Japan is taking lead in both. The fact Nations like Ireland have 4 times the medical graduates as Japan means they do not have the technology of Japan, and probably more sick people on average.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Fewer doctors and highest life expectancy! Japan must be doing something right!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Ganbare Japan

Robots and AI are the future of medicine, and Japan is taking lead in both

Certainly good advances are being made in Japan but Taiwan is the country leading the technology.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Ironically, I am working on a project now that will take results from a physical screen using technology that will automatically identify the parameters a clinician normally observes, then the algorithm will follow through on reading and identifying abnormalities for diagnosis and subsequent treatment. The process will free up the time of the high value clinician by also creating all of the documentation necessary for treatment, patient records, information for the patient and reporting for insurance payment.

More patients will be able to be seen, and the most important value will be reducing mistakes in diagnosis. Mistaken medical diagnosis is a chronic problem due to human fatigue, distraction and lack of training.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

zichi

For the past couple of months I have been having serious medical care including, a range of scans, including echo, CT several MRI including a full body. Time in hospital to have a biopsy.

I have prostrate cancer...

For the guys over 45 please ensure you are having prostrate/PSA tests and maybe you won't need what I am now having.

Good luck with the treatment. I've been having annual PSA tests for the last 5 or 6 years now, and am due for my next in Dec. If I ever get bad news, I will most definitely look into that robotic surgery. Sounds like the way to go.

I'll bet that even if you're on the National hoken and have a 30% co-pay, your tests, exams, and procedures will cost you less out-of-pocket than if you had a top-tier insurance plan in the US with only a 10% co-pay.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

garypen

Thanks. I'm retired. My maximum health payments are drugs ¥5,000/month. outpatient ¥12,000. In patient ¥35,000. 20% if less. Robot op with private room about ¥200,000. (the op part ¥35,000) I still some small monthly health charge about ¥5,000 I think and future care.

The full body MRI came to ¥5,000 but in a month when I paid more so I will get a rebate later.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Peter Neil

I watched how that works in Taiwan, very good and more reliable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Robots and AI are the future of medicine

Yep. Surgeons are especially soon to be replaced - probably the worst career path for a young doctor. What we really need are more GPs, or even well-trained nurses, in Japan. As it is, people often have to bounce from one doctor to another to find out what their problem is, and many doctors in Japan are reluctant to send income-providing patients to another doctor even when they have no idea what the problem is.

A good GP would act as a consultant to a patient, referring them to various specialists until the health condition is identified.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As it is, people often have to bounce from one doctor to another to find out what their problem is, and many doctors in Japan are reluctant to send income-providing patients to another doctor even when they have no idea what the problem is.

I went first to the nearest local hospital, five minute walk from home. Saw a visiting specialist doctor from Kobe who comes twice a week. He did a series of tests then at the end decided I need a biopsy and recommended another hospital just across the border in Himeji. A letter and introduced was given and they arrange the first appointment.

Attended the second hospital 9 times including an overnight stay for the biopsy. Many scans. Last week the doctor recommended I have a robot operation in Kobe and the hospital organised my first appointment in a couple of weeks.

I didn't have to do anything for the referrals and appointments. All the doctors recommended the next step.

So far, all the specialists I've seen, have all been trained by the same highly respected medical professors who I also spoke with over the phone and also recommended the robot op.

I have been impressed with my healthcare. At each step the doctors explained with me the medical conditions and we discussed the results of the various tests and scans. And the next options.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In other words, they haven't been successful in increasing the number of students admitted to medical school because of lower-than-expected number of students applying and they're trying to figure out how why and having no answers, their excuse is "lag"?

How come this is so hard to understand? it takes 6 years for a student to graduate, so even if the numbers of students doubled every year for the last past years it would still means this year the number of graduates would not change. The time needed for admitted students is the "lag".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I totally agree with Zichi. These people are great doctors, and it is very cheap to be taken care of even with long term medical care.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese government should not change the ratio of medical students at all.

Says a man. What a surprise.

The fact Nations like Ireland have 4 times the medical graduates as Japan means they do not have the technology of Japan, and probably more sick people on average.

This is not logical, but that's not a surprise given the poster.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites