FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

93chap.IIFukushima Medical University Record of Activities [Notes and Messages]FUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Lineunprecedented disaster? Not in the least. The lack or uneven distribution of physicians in Fukushima was previously a societal problem. Thus, in 2006, predating similar programs in the rest of the country, the prefecture made efforts to provide high-quality training for family physicians. Family physicians can provide appropriate care for common physical ailments such as a cough, headache, stomach ache, backache, high blood pressure, and lipid disorder; other lifestyle diseases including diabetes; and psychological disorders such as depression and insomnia. They specialize in providing “patient-centered care,” which considers the state of a patient’s well-being and family, and area peculiarities, and work together with all types of medical specialists and caregivers.From the patients’ viewpoint, family physicians are doctors who they visit, from infancy to old age, when they are worried or uncertain about their own or their family’s health conditions.Family physicians appropriately and effectively treat all medical problems that arise in an area, build strong relationships with local residents, and continually feel responsible for their area’s well-being. Thus, with the current decline in the Japanese medical system, family physicians are becoming increasingly valued as medical saviors of the community.Fukushima Prefecture has collaborated with our university, multiple medical facilities, local residents, and the government to train family physicians on a large scale. This state-of-the-art project is known throughout Japan as the “FMU Model.”Training family physicians who live and work in the local area is our school’s mission for both the rebirth of local medicine in Fukushima and the future of medicine in Japan.Bringing Together Old FriendsThis unpredictable disaster evoked a feeling of joy in me as I was able to work for the very people who had watched over us each day. Some may be irked with my mindless feeling of joy during such traumatic times. However, the truth is, as the severity of the situation became clear, I was all the more inspired to happily contribute with all my capacity, even in such harsh conditions. Not once did I regret that I was in Fukushima at the time. Why is that?On April 23, 2011, six weeks after the disaster, the Family Medicine Resident Forum (FaMReF) was held again at FMU after a two-month hiatus. FaMReF is a monthly study workshop for senior residents of family medicine. The workshop had been religiously held every month since its inception five years ago; however, for the first time, FaMReF was cancelled in March because of the disaster.We were overwhelmed to see our friends, who had overcome the crisis, for the first time in two months. FaMReF began with a moment of silence before proceeding to the main theme, “Stories from the Disaster.” These are those stories…A Heart Full of Joy and Pride of Living and Working in the CommunityEven though the whole of Fukushima was affected by the disaster, different parts of the prefecture experienced widely different conditions. But, I can look back and say that all of us, from our respective posts, worked together with on-the-ground staff as gear wheels for the large-scale efforts toward disaster medical relief throughout the prefecture.Now, I understand the feeling of joy. It was the existence of my fellows who upheld the big dream of “family physicians that live and work in the community,” all those who supported them, and gave me strength from afar. For me, 3/11 was the day that I realized two important aspects: We cannot live alone, and working in Fukushima as a family physician will continue to give me joy and pride for the rest of my life.Care/education centers with family medicine courses in Fukushima (2011)* The creation of the Futaba community or family medicine center has been postponed because of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant incident.FaMReF group discussion