FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

210MA: A moment of silence was held at FMU exactly one month after the earthquake. You observed this moment near a plaque commemorating the life and oath of Hippocrates. Why?KN: In the course of teaching medical English presentation skills, I convene students around this plaque. They compare and contrast the classic oath and modern variations. In common, every respectable oath is a promise of service to others. This comes naturally in times of disaster, but I also wanted to reflect on Hippocrates’ injunction to guide the next generation. We invited 110 medical
students to matriculate
in April. Circumstances forced FMU to postpone the
new academic year by one
month, and for various
reasons 11 students
withdrew. Those who joined us made an
extraordinary commitment. Those of us
privileged to teach the art
should do the same.MA: Fukushima Medical University’s model of care is
“to show compassion, possess knowledge,
apply skill, foster harmony, and build community.” How does this compare to the Mayo Model of Care?KN: FMU’s model of patient care and education resembles what is practiced at Mayo. I’ve never forgotten that farmers from southeastern Minnesota were as welcome at Mayo as royalty from around the world. As in southeastern Minnesota,
much of Fukushima’s economy is agricultural, but not as mechanized. Farmers here work much harder for my meals than I do. Many of them come into old age and into hospital bent over from years of diligent crop tending. They deserve our best efforts.MA: To what degree is daily life at FMU back to normal?KN: FMU has resumed routine patient care. Radiation surveillance is a normal activity at any medical university but was scaled up when problems began at the nuclear power plant. I walk past one radiation checkpoint every day, where log sheets are kept in plain view next to a Geiger counter. Between official measurements, I am at liberty to check myself, or anything I might be wearing or carrying, for radioactivity. My day-to-day life was never really disrupted. A doctor always has something to do. People in the community who wanted me to focus on my job made sure that other things were taken care of.MA: What would you like Mayo Clinic alumni to know about disaster relief, and your life in Fukushima?KN: Mayo alumni know firsthand what charitable giving can accomplish. Just as we are taught to practice evidence-based medicine, it behooves us to practice evidence-based benevolence. Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” We in Fukushima are stronger as a result of this trial, but not as individuals. Strength in Japan is a collective attribute. The gossamer threads of interpersonal relationships, woven at FMU and in the community, held fast. Threads tested become threads trusted.Nollet Q&A with Mayo and ABCKenneth E. NolletDepartment of Blood Transfusion and Transplantation Immunology, Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, JapanDr. Kenneth Nollet’s narratives on www.cbbstoday.org were widely read around the world. Among the readers was Ms. Melissa Abrams, managing editor of Mayo Alumni magazine. She interviewed Dr. Nollet in April 2011, for an article that was published in Fall 2011 edition of Mayo Alumni. Here we reprint the interview. The entire Fall 2011 issue can be downloaded at http://www.mayo.edu/mayo-clinic-alumni-association/news-and-events/mayo-alumni-magazine/archives.