Masaharu Yamamoto, MD, MPH, PhD
On behalf of my colleagues at Niigata University of Health and Welfare, I am very pleased to welcome you to our University. The University was established in 2001 to train future health professionals in the field of health and social welfare sciences. Currently more than 4,000 graduates are working, not only in Japan but also in foreign countries, as "QOL (quality of life) supporters" involved in the care of the elderly, patients undergoing medical treatment, and the handicapped. Fostering "qualified QOL supporters" has been our school's major emphasis since its foundation.
The Undergraduate School has four faculties consisting of eleven departments. In the Faculty of Medical Technology, the departments include Physical Therapy; Occupational Therapy; Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences; and Prosthetics & Orthotics and Assistive Technology; Clinical Engineering and Medical Technology; and Orthoptics and Visual Sciences, which was newly instituted in 2014. In the Faculty of Health Science, the departments include Health and Nutrition, Health and Sports, and Nursing. The Faculty of Social Welfare consists of a single department, the Department of Social Welfare. The fourth faculty is the Faculty of Healthcare Management, which consists of the Department of Health Informatics. There are about 3,400 students now taking a wide range of courses in these faculties.
Our graduate school started in 2005, and now has four master's courses with majors in Rehabilitation Sciences (Master of Rehabilitation Science), Social Welfare (Master of Social Work), Health Sciences (Master of Health Science), and Health Informatics and Business Administration (Master of Health Informatics and Business Administration), which was just established. In addition, the School has one doctoral course with a major in Health and Welfare (Doctor of Health Science). In total, out of 102 students, 74 are in the master's courses and 28 in the doctoral course, as of April 1, 2014.
As a matter of educational policy, we pay special attention to inter-professional education (IPE). It is necessary for students to participate in a learning system shared with different professional trainees based on the concept of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team, and to understand the roles of the different professions within the team. The IPE can result not only in an increase in patient satisfaction but also in a reduction of medical expenditures. With the increase of globalization in the form of the influx of health care professionals into Japan from abroad and vice versa, the IPE has been becoming more important than ever for students and professionals in health-related fields.
We would like to encourage students with scientific interests in improving people's health to become "qualified QOL supporters" with the intent to work worldwide in the future. We have been conducting collaborative research with international professionals, especially with those from countries in Asia and the Pacific region. We are, therefore, looking forward to producing modern scientific and technological achievements with the international community of health professionals who share a common interest in health science and health care.