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UCSF Serves as Model for Japan's Inaugural Nurse Practitioner Program

By Robin Hindery

UCSF’s Jill Howie Esquivel, left, with Tomoko Kusama, president of Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, on a recent visit to Japan.

With guidance from the UCSF School of Nursing, a university in Japan has launched that country’s first-ever program for nurse practitioners (NPs). Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences is the only school in Japan where registered nurses (RNs) can receive advanced education and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. The program kicked off in April 2008 with three students, and three more started in April of this year. “In Japan, recent government support for increasing the number of nursing schools has provided more nurses, and there are a growing number of nurses who have received PhDs, but advanced practice nursing doesn’t exist in a widespread way,” said Jill Howie Esquivel, RN, NP, PhD, associate clinical professor and vice chair of clinical academic programs and personnel in the UCSF Department of Physiological Nursing. Howie Esquivel has been working with representatives from Oita University since they visited UCSF in mid-2007 to research and observe how UCSF’s own NP program operates. She has visited Japan twice – most recently in March — to discuss the Oita program and offer advice. “Oita University reached out to UCSF as a successful model for curricular and clinical training for NPs,” she said. The School of Nursing offers numerous NP tracks, including programs that focus on women’s health, family medicine and pediatrics. Located in an extremely rural part of southern Japan, Oita University is the perfect home for Japan’s inaugural NP program, Howie Esquivel said. Japan is the world’s fastest-aging society, she noted, making it imperative that access to quality care improves in rural areas. In addition, rural communities throughout the world generally have higher rates of chronic illnesses, infant and maternal morbidity, and mental illness compared with urban communities. Oita University was founded in 1998 in response to Japan’s need for more nurses — a need that has not yet been met. Last May, the Japanese government formed a partnership with Indonesia that will bring 1,000 Indonesian nurses and nursing care specialists to Japan by July 2010. The deal marks the first time Japan has accepted outside nurses and nursing care specialists into the country on a full-scale basis.

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