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Hokubu Nursing School student Nanako Matayoshi hands 4-day-old Jasmyn Monet to her mother, Deniece Thomas, at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa earlier this month. Matayoshi is one of two students participating in a three-week cultural exchange to learn more about American nursing.

Hokubu Nursing School student Nanako Matayoshi hands 4-day-old Jasmyn Monet to her mother, Deniece Thomas, at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa earlier this month. Matayoshi is one of two students participating in a three-week cultural exchange to learn more about American nursing. (Amanda Woodhead / U.S. Navy)

Hokubu Nursing School student Nanako Matayoshi hands 4-day-old Jasmyn Monet to her mother, Deniece Thomas, at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa earlier this month. Matayoshi is one of two students participating in a three-week cultural exchange to learn more about American nursing.

Hokubu Nursing School student Nanako Matayoshi hands 4-day-old Jasmyn Monet to her mother, Deniece Thomas, at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa earlier this month. Matayoshi is one of two students participating in a three-week cultural exchange to learn more about American nursing. (Amanda Woodhead / U.S. Navy)

Hokubu Nursing School students Takahiro Chibana, left, and Nanako Matayoshi, right, review couplet care procedures with Navy Lt. Martine Riché at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. The students rotated through 10 departments during their three weeks at the hospital.

Hokubu Nursing School students Takahiro Chibana, left, and Nanako Matayoshi, right, review couplet care procedures with Navy Lt. Martine Riché at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. The students rotated through 10 departments during their three weeks at the hospital. (Amanda Woodhead / U.S. Navy)

CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — In an effort to better understand how American nurses practice their trade, two Okinawan nursing students volunteered to spend their summer break working beside their counterparts here at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.

Takahiro Chibana and Nanako Matayoshi, second- and third- year students respectively from Hokubu Nursing School in Nago, began shadowing nurses at the hospital on Aug. 8. They ended their time there on Wednesday, said hospital spokeswoman Amanda Woodhead.

After two days of hospital orientation, Woodhead said, the students began rounds in clinical areas such as the medical-surgical ward, ambulatory procedure unit, couplet care and the emergency department. The students rotated through 10 departments during their three weeks at the hospital.

“I now have a widened vision of nursing from my exposure to U.S.-style nursing,” Chibana said two weeks into the program. “Before I only saw the Japanese style but I am now more interested in the way the U.S. and other countries’ nurses perform their duties.”

It wasn’t Matayoshi’s first time being immersed in American culture: While in high school, she spent a year in Fort Worth, Texas, as an exchange student.

“I am still challenged by our differences in language, especially with all the military acronyms, but I think we can both benefit from this program and succeed through nursing,” she said. “I am interested in becoming a registered nurse and working with new mothers. This experience has really empowered me to achieve my goals.”

Navy Capt. Jan Carrio, the hospital’s nursing services director, said the pair were eager to learn.

“The students’ enthusiasm to learn and the opportunity to practice their current skills and develop new skills enhanced their motivation to continue on with their current training program at Hokubu and to recognize the vast array of opportunities available in the nursing profession,” Carrio said.

Each student had a U.S. military nurse as a sponsor during the program, Carrio said. The sponsors — Lt. Martine Riché and Lt. Cmdr. James Abbott — helped with hospital orientation, coordinated training in the clinical areas, answered questions and ensured a smooth transition throughout the program.

“This is an intercultural exchange to help each other learn for a better future,” Carrio said. “Our ultimate goal is to develop good nurses.”

While the students may have showed a willingness to learn, the hospital showed its willingness to teach by opening its doors, according to Toshiko Ikehara, Hokubu Nursing School director.

“They really opened their hearts to us, showed us outstanding leadership and offered us an open welcome so the program would succeed,” she said.

The Hokubu Nursing School plans to continue the relationship by sending two students to the hospital every August to learn from U.S. nurses, Ikehara said, adding that the program gives the students confidence to treat all patients whatever their nationality.

“In the long run,” she said, “this will benefit all of Okinawa.”


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