Following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program has worked to support the reconstruction of affected areas by providing educational programs for Japanese nursing students interested in further developing their skills in disaster medicine. Launched in 2015, the program has successfully provided learning opportunities for a total of 28 nursing students and is scheduled to continue through the year 2020.
Consisting of three main components, the program kicks off with a round of pre-trip seminars held in Sendai, Japan, followed by a 10-day study tour in the U.S. The trip concludes with a series of post-trip seminars and a symposium upon the return to Sendai where students engage in activities to share learnings from the U.S. study tour with their respective communities. Each portion of the program is focused on educating participants about disaster relief methods that can be implemented in the rebuilding of their home regions.
The U.S. study tour includes stops in multiple cities, where participants visit facilities and organizations specializing in disaster medicine and nursing. This year’s trip was planned and executed by Children’s National Health System, a premier provider of pediatric services in the Washington D.C. metro area, and offered students access to the latest technology in specialized care for children.
The trip began in New York with a tour of the 9/11 Tribute Museum, followed by a visit to the New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center, where students learned about Hurricane Sandy response efforts in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). During the New Jersey leg of the trip, participants learned more about Hurricane Sandy relief efforts along the Jersey shore and participated in an emergency room (ER) trauma simulation at Rutgers University School of Nursing, before visiting J&J World Headquarters in New Brunswick, N.J. for presentations from nurses from Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, the executive director of the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA), and J&J executives about the Johnson & Johnson commitment to nursing and its global and national efforts in emergency situations. Finally, students traveled to Washington D.C., where they participated in a simulations lab and learned about ethical considerations, mental health, and self-care for nurses in disasters at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, and visited Children’s National Health System to learn about international and domestic disaster response, emergency management, decontamination, difficult decisions, and more.
Students were provided with three mentors who helped guide them throughout their visit of each facility, ensuring a full and complete understanding of each part of the tour. Participants will go on to use learnings from the U.S. study tour in development and execution of disaster relief activities on their own, and will present their learnings at a post-trip symposium in December.
The TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program provides a unique opportunity for Japanese nursing students to support their communities with invaluable resources and knowledge as they learn how to provide aid in recovery efforts. Throughout the past four years, the program has provided nurses with necessary resources and education to become leaders, helping strengthen their communities through the improved ability to respond to disasters and emergency situations.