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More foreign nurses seek certification in Japan

Chinese nursing assistants Xu Ya, right, and Huang Ya, second from right, attend to a male patient at the Nissan Tamagawa Hospital in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, earlier this month.

Publication Date : 29-05-2014


“Was the breakfast good?” a Chinese nursing assistant asked a male patient at the surgery ward of the Nissan Tamagawa Hospital in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, earlier this month.

Two Chinese women, Xu Ya, 23 and Huang Ya, 22, both from the Hunan Province, China, started working as nursing assistants at the hospital from April.

They graduated from a nursing school in China in July and came to Japan through the assistance of the International Nurse Training Association—a Kyoto-based nonprofit organisation—in November. While learning Japanese at a Japanese-language school, they studied for the certification exam to become a nurse in Japan. In March, they passed the assistant nurse examination, and now are studying for next year’s national examination for certified nurses while working at the hospital.

While foreign assistant nurses are allowed to stay in Japan for up to four years, there is no time limit for certified nurses.

“Japan is advanced in nursing techniques,” Huang said. “I’d like to become a certified nurse and keep working in Japan. I also want to send money back to my family.”

The hospital accepted three other Chinese, supporting them with its own training programme. “All of them are excellent workers filled with zeal,” a senior hospital official said.

There has been a rapid increase in foreign nurses working at hospitals in Japan.

In addition to nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines, who came to Japan based on bilateral economic partnership agreements, many foreigners first obtain nursing licenses in other countries such as China, and then come to Japan. They obtain qualifications to take the national exam for nurses after meeting certain conditions.

In this year’s national examination, held in February, the number of successful foreign applicants reached a record high of 176 through this process. However, foreign nurses face challenges in their efforts to become a nurse in Japan.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the number of people who have an overseas nursing license and found eligible to take the national exam for certified nurses reached a record high of 195 last fiscal year, an increase of 45 from the previous fiscal year. The figure did not include those who came to Japan on the EPA programme. Among them, 152 were Chinese, accounting for nearly 80 per cent, as they can read and write kanji, which enables them to learn the Japanese language quickly.

Nonprofit organisations and individual agents serve as intermediaries between nursing schools in China and hospitals in Japan. The association, established in 2011, cooperates with about 10 organiaations in China, including a college of nursing, and about 40 Chinese people have passed an exam to become a certified nurse or an assistant nurse in Japan, and are currently working at about 20 medical institutions.

The association receives many inquiries from hospitals facing staffing shortages, and about 30 Chinese workers will come to Japan this year.

“I’d like to develop staff who actually play an active role, rather than send workers to hospitals by helping them obtain certification,” said Atsuhito Tamaki, a senior official at the association.


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