Clinical Clerkship at Johns Hopkins Hospital

by Yuki Sonoda

This spring, with the help of FUTI scholarship, I had the opportunity to do hands-on clinical exposure, elective clerkship at Johns Hopkins Hospital for 2 months. I rotated in Johns Hopkins Orthopaedic Department, Adult Trauma Service and Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

Johns Hopkins University, one of the world’s greatest hospitals, is a teaching hospital located in Maryland. Fortunately, University of Tokyo hospital is affiliated with Hopkins and has an annual student exchange program with it. I have been for a long time longing for seeing how and what kind of medical practice is delivered in the US, the most leading country in the field of medicine. It was fortunate enough that I was accepted by Hopkins and could be a part of medical service as a medical student.

The trauma service primarily focuses on treating fractures requiring a surgical intervention on limbs. Possible causes include falls, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents/collisions, assaults, and gunshot wounds. Normally, the most prevalent cause is motor vehicle accident. However, Hopkins trauma service dealt with more gunshot wounds cases than with traumas; the city of Baltimore, where the hospital is located, has a crime rate far above the national average for many years. Also, some patients in the department have chronic osteomyelitis requiring surgical intervention, secondary to IV drug use for a long time. It was surprising and at the same time interesting for me to see such cases as complicated gunshot wound and IV drug use since they do not virtually exist in Japan. As a medical student, I had the responsibility of doing pre-round at early in the morning in the ward, reporting my finding to my supervising doctors, scrubbing in operations and doing things such as suction, suture and tying.

The endocrinology department has clinics at Hopkins’s outpatient center and consultation services in the ward. Unlike its orthopedic department, which is procedure-based, the endocrinology department focuses on making diagnosis and providing non-procedural treatment. Therefore, there are more students’ tasks in the endocrinology than in the orthopedics department. I had the task of taking histories and doing physical examination, reporting my findings to my supervising doctors, and sometimes I had the opportunity of answering clinical questions in the service by looking up latest medial papers.

Overall, the requirements for medical students are more demanding in the US than in Japan. Also, I felt that communication skills are regarded as more important. With the language barrier, this experience was really hard for me. However, I keenly felt it was fortunate to know the standard medicine in the US while I am still a student. I would like to express my gratitude to FUTI, which financially supported this program. This precious experience has made me determined to work hard to become one of the leading doctors of the world.