McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Niigata University students visit Mac

by Suzanne Morrison
Published: March 31, 2014
Students from Niigata University visit Core Lab in McMaster University Medical Centre
Students from Niigata University visit the Core Lab in the McMaster University Medical Centre

The attitude and willingness of McMaster University students to learn on their own caught the eye of Japanese radiology student Masato Fujisawa.

Fujisawa was visiting McMaster as part of a delegation from Japan's Niigata University. "Japanese students tend to get exams from previous years students, learn what former students were tested on, then repeat the same answers and pass the course," said Fujisawa.

His admission, with plans to change his ways once he's back home, brought knowing nods from five other medical technology and nursing students who are visiting McMaster with him.

For nine consecutive years, students from Niigata University have been coming to McMaster as guests of its Global Health Office to learn about the University's pioneering problem-based style of learning (PBL) and observe first-hand its innovative educational styles.

McMaster is the only Canadian university with whom Niigata University maintains a connection, although students also visit universities in other countries, such as Sri Lanka.

The Niigata students annual week at McMaster offers them the opportunity to enjoy an exceptional educational experience, said Naoshi Fujiwara, professor, Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Medical Technology. "What students get here in lectures and content is so rich and well presented," he said, crediting Dr. Andrea Baumann, associate vice-president, Global Health Office, who has had strong links with Niigata since the program was first launched almost a decade ago.

At McMaster, in partnership with Mohawk College, students enjoyed a broad overview of different departments and disciplines: the health science library, anatomy laboratory, simulation centre, radiation therapy, ultra sound and radiography laboratories. They caught lectures on nursing research, nursing education and patient safety. In between, they fit in trips to Canadian landmarks — maple syrup testing at Westfield Heritage Village and Niagara Falls.

From her week here, Sara Ogawa noticed how students at McMaster are taught how to learn while in Japan they are taught what to learn, a difference in educational approaches she would like to see adopted at home.

All students enjoyed their experience in the anatomy lab, and the easy one-on-one dialogue that they noticed going on between professors and their students. Some admitted they are "almost jealous" of the wonderful environment in which McMaster students are learning.

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