Completing the U.S. Study Tour Filled with a Sense of Accomplishment, Seven Nursing Students Return to Japan with a Strong Passion
From August 5 to 16, 2018, seven nursing students originally from and currently in the Tohoku region visited New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. through the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program 2018 U.S. Study Tour. During visits to three different cities, the participants learned about medical procedures and nursing in the U.S. and the role of healthcare in times of disaster and emergency, as well as the role of nurses. They also visited places where past disasters have occurred, learning about people’s grief in times of disaster and gaining firsthand knowledge of recovery efforts that are still ongoing today.
At the beginning of the Study Tour, as has been done in previous years, the participants visited the affected areas of 9/11, which happened in 2001, and Hurricane Sandy, which occurred in 2012. They met with people who were on the ground to hear their meaningful experiences. They shared stories of catastrophic situations, vividly recalling their emotions at the time and the distress they went through. The participants learned that regardless of whether a disaster happens naturally or is manmade, the huge holes left in people’s hearts are a universal phenomenon in every country, causing intolerable pain. In order to overcome such difficult situations, an enormous amount of time and people’s helping hands are needed. The participants contemplated what it really means to “be there for another person,” not only as a nurse, but also as a person, and what impact they could have on a person right in front of them, who was in deep grief. They also pondered what they can do when they face such situations in the future.
In the middle of the Study Tour, the participants experienced many hands-on training sessions. The training sessions, designed to reflect real-life field situations, included: a triage training featuring a train accident with a great number of injured; a discussion on how to prioritize operations in a hospital when a disaster happens; an evacuation training and decontamination effort using a Med Sled (medical sled); and a lecture on the Go Bag (evacuation bag) and tourniquet. Everything was new for the participants, which caused confusion and tears from time to time, but they worked very hard together during every training. Not every lesson was completely applicable to the practices in Japan, but with dedicated support from experienced mentors from Japan, the participants gained great knowledge and experience.
The students also received a warm welcome at the headquarters of the program’s sponsor, Johnson & Johnson. This year, the participants were also invited to a newly established museum owned by the company. They learned about the company’s history of contribution and the generous support it has provided to the field of medicine and nursing. Warm words of encouragement were sent to the participants, who will become the future of nursing. Additionally, the students heard from members of The National Student Nurses’ Association. The participants were inspired to hear the speakers’ passion and dedication for their work as nurses, which they have cultivated since they also were students.
From now on, it will be their turn to contribute the knowledge they learned to their own communities. Upon returning to Japan, the latter half of the program will begin. TOMODACHI hopes that the participants will continue to thrive with a strong passion in their hearts.