About Dr. Branch

I first came to Japan as a medical student in 1998 at which time I studied under Dr.  Gerald Stein (Kameda Medical Center, Kamogawa) and Dr . Makoto Aoki (International Medical Center, Shinjuku), respectively.

During my time in Japan, I recognised that there was less focus on speaking to patients or physical examination. Instead, there was heavy focus on use of computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and laboratory testing to establish diagnoses. 

During my short time studying in Japan, I realised that junior doctors lacked the basic skills that Western-trained doctors typically acquire early on in their medical training  This made it difficult for junior doctors to effectively gather important information from patients that cannot be replaced via scans or lab data. 

As a consequence, these experiences enthused me want to teach in Japan.

In 2006, I eventually had the opportunity to move to Japan at which time I took up the physician training position at Shonan Kamakura General Hospital. I eventually worked there for over 15 years, training several hundred junior doctors. 

In 2021, I took up the training position in Yao Tokushukai General Hospital, Osaka. This change of roles allowed me to expand my teaching into Western Japan (Kansai) , which has traditionally lacked much in the way of foreign-based training.

As part of my teaching of residents, I am interested in nurturing their skills in the following areas:

1) History taking

2) Evidence-based physical examination

3) Diagnostic thinking 

4) Application of evidence-based medicine at the bedside

5) Reading electrocardiograms 

6) Pharmacotherapy

7) Ethics 

8) Professionalism

9) End-of-life care

and so on....

During my time working and living in Japan, I have been able to understand the cultural differences of patients and in medical practice per se, compared to Western norms. In fact, I have learned many new and important medical facts, mostly from patients! 

I look forward to many more years of training residents and learning from them and their patients.

None of this would be possible if it were not for my dear friends, Dr. Stein, Dr. M Aoki, Dr. Naito, Dr. T Suzuki, Dr. Shinozaki, and Dr. Harada, amongst others. There are too many people to mention in reality. Thank you so much to all of you for making me feel at home in this wonderful and amazing country.

Joel Branch, August 2022.