EHC 2016

Newsletter #1

Message from the Director

Dear EHC Participants,

Greetings from VIA's office at Stanford University! My name is Ellison Weeks, and I am the Exploring Health Care (EHC) Program Director. I am very excited to welcome more than 30 enthusiastic students from medical schools across Japan to the San Francisco Bay Area in March!

This message is lengthy but contains useful information, so make sure you read it carefully.

IMPORTANT: Please take a few moments to complete the Pre-Departure Orientation Survey located at the end of this message.

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns that you may have.

Best regards,


Introducing the Assistant Program Director

Hirona Hono joins EHC 2016 as the Assistant Program Director. Hirona is a cross-cultural trainer and diversity education coordinator. Her journey of multiculturalism began when she was from five to eight years old in Belgium and this background sprouted her interest in other cultures, and so she participated in a study abroad program in the U.K. and volunteered in France, Ghana, Turkey, and Japan. After graduating from university, she worked as a project coordinator for international exchange programs. Currently, she is pursuing a master's degree in Intercultural Services, Leadership and Management at SIT Graduate Institute.

As an assistant director, she is excited to be a part of this life-long journey for both EHC students and the staff team! You may reach out to Hirona via email at with any questions or concerns.

Comparative Health Care Workshops with Dr. James Thomas

This spring, we are fortunate to be joined by Dr. James Thomas of the Keio University School of Medicine. Dr. Thomas will conduct workshops on a variety of topics, such as medical ethics, global medicine, health insurance, among others. In addition, he will be providing brief reviews on the medical English we learn each day.

Dr. Thomas is a U.K.-trained physician currently working in Tokyo, Japan. As a medical student, he participated in a clinical clerkship in Hokkaido and became interested in Japanese health care, language and culture. After graduating as a doctor, he underwent clinical training in Sheffield, England, and worked in primary care and pediatrics before moving to Japan in April 2012. He now devotes the majority of this time to medical education and teaches students and junior residents within Keio University and Hospital.

Health Care Fellows

The 2016 EHC staff team also includes a phenomenal group of Health Care Fellows from Stanford University, the University of California at San Diego, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Nihon University School of Medicine. Along with the EHC program directors, they will plan activities, help with your daily lives, be your friends when you come to the Bay Area and support your learning about the U.S. health care system. For more information about their backgrounds and diverse medical interests, please visit the EHC website and click on the "staff" tab.

Pre-Travel Checklist (PTC)

By now, you should have begun the Pre-Travel Checklist (PTC), an online system that has been created to help you prepare for the upcoming journey to California as efficiently as possible. The PTC outlines a number of tasks that must be completed before you depart Japan and corresponding due dates. Please mark these dates on your calendar. If you encounter difficulty completing any of the PTC tasks, please contact me or Hirona immediately and we will be more than happy to assist you.


As a participant on the 2016 EHC Program, you will need to make sure that your immunizations are up to date. This is to ensure both your safety, and that of any patients whom you may come into contact with. Not having current immunizations may prevent you from being able to shadow. Because what American medical facilities require may be different from what you are familiar with, please be sure to read the guide contained on the PTC carefully and thoroughly. Important tips and reminders are included below.

Immunization Forms

  • Reminder that immunizations are DUE by February 15. We highly encourage all immunization documents to be submitted by the deadline whenever possible!

  • Please read the Immunization Guide first, complete the quiz, then scan and upload your documents. All of the above can be found in your PTC.

  • Use English-language documents if possible. For immunization records written in your native language, please make sure that key parts (date and name of each vaccine, for example) of your document are translated into English.

  • Prior to submission, please double check that the scanned documents are easy to read and professional. Remember, medical professionals will be reviewing them.

  • Please read the Immunization Guide carefully to avoid any mistakes! Have you checked to make sure your titers have a number value AND your immunity level (positive/partial/negative) is clearly stated?

If you are experiencing difficulty in meeting the requirements mentioned above or outlined in the Immunization Guideline, then it is VERY IMPORTANT that you contact Ellison ( to discuss your individual situation and make alternate arrangements for submitting your documents in as timely a manner as possible. Failure to do so could limit our ability to obtain clearance for you to shadow a physician this spring.


As an program participant, you are required to give two presentations: one to introduce your medical school, and one to introduce yourself. If there is more than one student joining from your school, you will be connected via email so that you can work on the medical school presentation as a group. These presentations should be limited to 5 minutes in length, be conducted in English and stored on a USB drive for easy access. Since presentations will be delivered during the first few days of the program, it is highly recommended that you complete your individual and school introductions before reaching California.

NOTE: Detailed presentation guidelines will be shared with you very soon in a separate email.

Pre-Departure Orientation

In order to help you prepare for this spring's EHC Program, two pre-departure orientation sessions will be held in Western and Eastern Japan. The first session will take place at Osaka Medical College on Saturday, February 27th from 14:00 - 16:30. The second session will take place on Sunday, February 28th at Nihon University School of Medicine in Tokyo from 12:30 - 16:30.

While not mandatory, these sessions are a great way to obtain important program information and provide an exciting opportunity for you to meet your fellow participants as well as alumni from previous programs. Alumni will be on hand to share tips and advice with you for getting the most out of your experience in the San Francisco Bay Area this March.

Each session will be followed by a nomikai at a local restaurant or izakaya. So that we can plan accordingly, please click below to complete a brief survey indicating which orientation session you plan to attend and whether or not you also plan to join the optional nomikai. afterwards. Estimated per-person cost for the nomikai is about 3500 - 4000 yen. The deadline to complete this survey is Friday, January 22, 2016 (Japan Time).