Contrasting Residency Training in Japan and the United States From Perspectives of Japanese Physicians Trained in Both Systems

Brian S. Heist, Haruka Matsubara Torok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: International medical graduates (IMGs) have significant exposure to clinical training in their home country, which provides opportunity for international comparison of training experiences. One relevant IMG population is Japanese physicians who have completed some training before entering residency programs in the United States and desire to improve medical education in Japan. Objective: We examined Japanese IMGs' perceptions of the respective attributes of residency in the United States and Japan. Methods: Individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 33 purposively sampled Japanese IMGs who had completed training. We used exploratory thematic analysis, iterative data collection, and thematic analyses with constant comparison. Results: Comments were organized into 3 categories: (1) attributes of US residency preferable to Japanese residency; (2) attributes of residency training with no clear preference for the US or Japanese systems; and (3) attributes of Japanese residency preferable to US residency. Within each category, we matched themes to residency program requirements or culture of medical training. Main themes include high regard for Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Common Program Requirements, with emphasis on efficient achievement of clinical competency through graded responsibility, contrasted with preference expressed for a Japanese training culture of increased professional commitment facilitated by a lack of work hour limits and development of broad clinician skills, including bedside procedures and radiology interpretation. Conclusions: Japanese training culture contrasts with a US model that is increasingly focused on work-life balance and associated compartmentalization of patient care. These findings enhance our understanding of the global medical education landscape and challenges to international standardization of training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-133
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of graduate medical education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article


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