It’s become a tradition over more than 10 years for Clover Park Technical College to welcome students from Japan’s Osaka Jikei College, but now that tradition is expanding as CPTC’s Medical Assistant program served as hosts for the first time to a group of 40 students last week.
In previous years, Osaka Jikei sent two groups during the year to visit the Medical Histology Technician program in the spring and the Medical Laboratory Technician program in the fall. Beginning this year, however, the two colleges will collaborate on several more trips that includes the Medical Assistant program and the Nursing program faculty, with the potential to add another trip in the future.
“I really enjoyed watching the students of different cultures and ages interact and laugh together even though there was a language barrier,” Medical Assistant instructor Amy Gowan said. “It was affirming to see how everyone got to interact and be friendly to each other.”
The Osaka Jikei students spent three days touring the South Sound area, including participating in hands-on lab activities with the CPTC Medical Assistant program students on April 16 and offering student lectures and cultural exchange activities from each college on April 17. The third day of the tour featured visits to local health care facilities.
According to CPTC Manager of International Education Programs Yuko Chartraw, a unique aspect for the Medical Assistant program compared to the other two programs who have hosted Osaka Jikei visits comes in the cultural differences in the job duties.
“The name of the occupation ‘Medical Assistant’ is the same in both the United States and Japan, but the scope of duties and range of responsibilities widely differ,” Chartraw said. “In the U.S., medical assistants can draw blood, take vital signs, apply and remove casts, and more, but in Japan, those are nurses’ duties. The work of medical assistants in Japan is limited to an office setting, and the Osaka Jikei students were shocked to learn these differences.”
Those difference allowed students and faculty to see a different perspective on their career path and cultures. For Gowan, she hopes that cultural exchange can expand for future visits.
“I’d like to see the Osaka Jikei students bring their culture more to us on our campus,” Gowan said. “They ate our food and stayed at our school and submerged into our day, but it would be cool to see what a day or even a half-day experience would be like in their school, including food.”
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