Study Medicine in Japan: 7 Things You Should Know

It takes a lot of time and effort for an aspiring student to become a professional doctor. Starting from their high school years and earlier years of undergraduate studies, they must already prepare for getting into medical schools if they want to pursue medical studies because some requirements from several medical schools are good grades from your previous institutions so do well in your early education. After that, a student will at least spend another six years of education introducing medicine and specializing in its general field. Next is to get their license, and then specialize in the specific field they wanted to.

As you can imagine, becoming a doctor is not as easy as saying it. You will need to work hard and prove that you’re worthy of becoming one. Especially if what you will be handling usually are the lives of people. This is a type of profession in which no mistakes shall be made as possible as you can because even small details such as wrong dosage or wrong time of intaking a medicine could become a factor of someone losing his or her life.

With that said, medical student must get their education from the best medical institution that there is. To become a respectable doctor, one must have a good educational background in medicine. And there are no other countries to get that education except in Japan. As every person knows, in terms of technology advancement, research progress, and community development, Japan is one of the leading countries, especially in the field of medicine. So, if you aspire to be among the best doctors around the world, having the best experience, skills, and education learned from the best country is a good way of starting your journey. To help you with that, here are some things that you needed to know if you are considering studying medicine in Japan.

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1. Can you study medicine in Japan as an international student?

Yes! Japan is considered to be one of the most accepting and hospitable countries in the world for foreign visitors including international students, and accepting them in their medical programs is no exception. Many international students have already graduated and studied medicine in Japan in various universities. Most universities in Japan have an international office or center, particularly for students from other countries. These universities are the University of Tokyo Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University Medical School, etc.

2. What are the requirements for its medical schools?

Like the usual requirements to study other degree programs in Japan, the requirements to study medicine in the countries’ medical schools are almost the same, except for the quota grades or grade requirements that you must have on your previous educational institution or entrance examinations.

For example, the usual requirements of a medical student include a document that proves your identity and nationality such as a birth certificate or a passport, your previous education documents such as report cards, a good moral certificate, proof of graduating high school, and lastly, other needed documents and payments such as application forms, student visa, entrance exam scores, and admission fees from other universities.

If you studied from a non-English speaking country, you will also be required to submit an IELTS score. Sometimes, universities also require to take a Japanese Language Proficiency Test as an additional requirement of the medical school.

3. How many medical schools are in Japan?

Currently, Japan has a recorded number of 79 medical schools around the country. Out of those schools, 42 are national medical schools, 8 are founded by the Japanese government, while 29 are private universities. This number is expected to rise because of different crises that, not only Japan but also the world, are facing.

4. In what language is Japan’s medical curriculum?

Japanese medical schools are known internationally for offering education with the English language as the medium of instruction. That is why many aspiring students from around the world want to study medicine in Japan because aside from its good-quality and modern education, having the international language as their medium lessens the language barrier between students and faculty of the universities.

This is also a learning chance for Japanese students who want to pursue graduate studies abroad. However, in some cases, some universities require international students, especially graduate students, to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test because they believe that it would be easier to explain and teach medicine in this medium. One of the universities with this type of requirement is the University of Tokyo Medical School.

5. What are the components of the medical curriculum in Japan?

Like other medical curriculums in other countries, the medical curriculum in Japan does not differ in terms of the period of study and yearly components of the curriculum. There might be a slight difference in the time or year of teaching a specific component, but they are the same. The period of the curriculum is within the usual timeframe of six years.

The first four years of studying medicine in Japan will solely be dedicated to preclinical studies or education that is usually held in classrooms and sometimes in laboratories. The last two years of the curriculum, on the other hand, will be for clinical education which is mostly an application of the theories learned in the first four years.

6. How difficult is it to study medicine in Japan?

Medical school dropout in Japan is relatively low compared to other countries because the education system in Japan at less than 10%. On average, the total dropout rate of students in any degree program is at most 15%.

The reasons for these dropouts are very sensible and rational as some of the students who could not continue studying medicine in Japan suffer from either too much workload from school and their jobs or they are completely unprepared for the degree program or curriculum. With this data, it can be said that yes, it is difficult to study in Japan if you will be unprepared, but it is not possible if you are determined.

7. What do you need to become a doctor in Japan?

After finishing your 6-year medical curriculum, you will be then eligible to take the National Medical Examination for Doctors to become a licensed doctor. However, to be able to take the exam, you also need to be proficient in the Japanese native language because the exam will be written in Japanese. So, if you are still unsure of your proficiency in Japanese despite the period of your stay in Japan, it is suggested that you must take additional language courses.


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