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Message from the Dean of the School of Medicine

Expectations for Aspiring Physicians at Wakayama Medical University

Our mission is to train physicians who are willing to reach out a hand to people suffering from illness, and who will do their absolute best to overcome disease and alleviate suffering. Over more than 75 years since foundation, Wakayama Medical University has contributed to people's health and the development of medical sciences by turning out a large number of outstanding physicians and researchers.

During this time, medicine has advanced dramatically, one after the other, discoveries have been made in the causes and pathologies of diseases that had been completely unknown previously, so now disease can even be treated at the molecular level. There remain, however, many diseases whose causes are still unknown and for which no treatment is available. Current medicine is powerless to help such patients. But still, we must work together with medical professionals across the full range of disciplines as we face patients with earnest devotion to relieving their suffering, even a little, by giving them medical and nursing care.

This points to some things students need to learn in their six years in the School of Medicine. First of all, students need to acquire accurate medical knowledge and reliable medical skills, so as to accurately diagnose and appropriately treat patients. Diagnosis is not always easy, however, treatment may not be immediately effective, and it is not unusual for complications or side effects to complicate a patient’s condition. But even in such cases, we must be equipped with the ability to deal with problems by systematically addressing them and not giving up on solving them. Appropriate communication skills are necessary to build good patient-physician relationships, practice team medicine, and ensure medical safety. Wakayama Medical University became a comprehensive medical university in 2021 to provide students in the School of Medicine with an excellent environment in which to learn the multi-disciplinary collaboration necessary for medical care in our increasingly super-aged society.

As you study medicine and gain experience as a physician, there will come a time when you keenly realize the limitations of medicine as it stands. I hope you do not then become complacent or give up on the way things are, but rather summon up your spirit of scientific inquiry, focus your energy on shining a light on patients’ conditions, and developing new treatments. This is indeed Seishu Hanaoka’s "Katsubutsu Kyuri" (“the study of the natural laws of living things”), one of the very principles upon which Wakayama Medical University was founded, and is the spirit reflected in the words of Wakayama Medical University’s inaugural President, Professor Yashiro Kotake. Medicine is constantly advancing. Those who have chosen the path to becoming a physician must always remember to keep learning throughout life so as to maintain the capabilities to provide patients with the most up-to-date medical care.

The knowledge and skills learnt through daily effort and study can, therefore, also become dangerous weapons if used incorrectly. The key for a physician to deciding how to use this knowledge and these skills is his or her ethical values. Physicians are professionals who are expected to be highly specialized and also uphold high public interest and moral standards. I hope you uphold high aspirations, refine your humanity, and improve yourself so that you can cultivate the high ethical standards needed to make the best decisions about how you should behave, and make decisions in the best interests of your patients. We, the faculty and staff at Wakayama Medical University School of Medicine, will do our best to support you to become such a physician.

ITO Hidefumi
Dean of School of Medicine
Wakayama Medical University