外国人看護師 試験の見直しはまだ不十分だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 8, 2010)
National nursing exam needs more revision
外国人看護師 試験の見直しはまだ不十分だ(9月7日付・読売社説)

Having accepted foreign nurses through agreements with other countries, this nation's government has a responsibility to rectify the current situation in which their inability to understand difficult kanji prevents them from passing Japan's licensing exam for nurses.

The government should do more to resolve the problem.

An expert panel of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry last month drew up a guideline to revise the national exam so foreign applicants can better understand its questions, which are written in Japanese.

The government decided to review the annual exam because its pass rate was extremely low among the would-be nurses Japan has accepted from Indonesia and the Philippines based on economic partnership agreements with those countries.

None of the trainees passed the exam in the first year of the program, and only 1 percent were successful in the second year.

The extremely low pass rate has led to criticism that it is unfair to reject examinees based on their ability to read kanji. The ministry has taken this under consideration and has been reviewing the exam system since March.

Help needed with jargon

The new guideline calls for disease names to be written in both Japanese and English on the exam, and for some technical terms to be expressed with internationally recognized abbreviations, such as Ca for karushiumu (calcium). The foreign applicants who come to Japan under the EPA program are licensed nurses in their own countries, and it will be a great help to them if terms are also written in English and with abbreviations.

The guideline also allows kana to be printed beside or above difficult kanji to aid reading. But it has not applied this measure to medical and nursing jargon, such as jokuso and gyogai, which mean bedsores and lying on one's back, respectively. Those terms cannot be replaced with easier words, either.

The Japan Nursing Association has said foreign nurses must be able to understand technical terms written in kanji and communicate accurately with their Japanese counterparts to prevent serious medical errors. The ministry's expert panel apparently compiled the guideline based on this opinion.

Of course safety in medical treatments must be ensured. But can't kana readings be printed next to difficult kanji that even native Japanese could not immediately read?

The new guideline will be reflected in the nursing exam beginning with the test scheduled for February. Under the rules of the program, however, nearly 100 foreign nurses will have to return home if they fail it.

The guideline should have been applied to the actual test only after it had been proven to be sufficiently effective in alleviating the problem. We believe preferential measures for foreign applicants, such as allowing them to take another test the year after next, should be considered.

Boost to medical tourism

The shortage of nurses and nursing care workers is still very serious in Japan. We do not think the kanji barrier should block motivated and capable people from these professions.

The government is working hard to attract more foreigners wishing to receive examinations for cancer and other medical conditions at Japanese hospitals. Filipino nurses with good English will be able to help Japanese medical staff communicate more smoothly with such foreign patients.

Vietnam and Thailand also have been asking Japan to accept nurses and nursing care workers from their countries. These countries will eventually propose revisions of their EPAs with Tokyo over the issue.

We do not want to see this program fail at the outset. The government should try to improve the environment for accepting caregivers from other countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 7, 2010)
(2010年9月7日01時20分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-09-08 04:57 | 英字新聞

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