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Message from the Dean of the School of Medicine

Aim to be a physician with high aspirations

What kind of doctor would you like to be? You probably each have different thoughts about this. The first criterion in the admission policy of Wakayama Medical University is “a person who has a scientific spirit of inquiry, a rich sense of humanity, and a high sense of ethics”. What is a “scientific spirit of inquiry”? This is what we often call a research mind, and it refers to a turn of mind that disposes people to want to research the causes of things. At a medical university, this means thinking and acting toward the goal of getting to the root cause of a patient’s illness and seeing into the heart of the pathology. In other words, this is katsubutsu kyuri (the “Study of the Natural Laws of Living Things”), which is one of the foundational principles of Wakayama Medical University. These words katsubutsu kyuri were also the guiding principle of so-called medical saint Hanaoka Seishu, a product of Kishu Province, where Wakayama Medical University has its roots. Wakayama Medical University has carried on the principles of Hanaoka Seishu to this very day. We also send off our graduates with the words of our first president, Yashiro Kotake, who was selected as a candidate for the Nobel Prize for his research on tryptophan: “We must read books and we must think, but the average person must work, and working means getting familiar with nature, gazing intently at nature, and thus developing the ability to perceive nature.” In other words, the average person comes to truly understand the heart and mind of the patient (nature) through working. This is the philosophy that runs through Hanaoka Seishu’s “Study of the Natural Laws of Living Things”. We teachers hope that you will acquire this kind of research mind in the course of your studies at Wakayama Medical University.

Next we might ask, what is a high sense of ethics? The foundation of this is understanding the suffering of the patient as a person. It begins with the feeling that you want to make efforts to remove that suffering or, if that is not possible, at least to alleviate it somewhat. Does it not mean the “spirit of service”, whereby you sacrifice your own time for the sake of the patients? It is said that Hanaoka Seishu loved nature, denied himself luxuries, and thought only of methods for saving patients on the verge of death (resuscitation methods). We can say that the principles of Hanaoka Seishu themselves truly embody a high sense of ethics. In other words, this is compassion for others, the so-called caring mind.

At Wakayama Medical University, we have programs to train doctors who possess both this research mind and a caring mind. We hope that you will aim to become doctors with the kind of high aspirations reflected in the words we use when we confer degrees on students at the time of graduation. This Diploma Policy exhorts our graduates to become “physicians who have common sense as members of society and can act with a high sense of ethics and an international perspective”. May you keep these aspirations in mind as you devote yourself to your studies every day.

Yasuteru Muragaki
Dean of the School of Medicine
Wakayama Medical University