One possible explanation for Japan’s long life span could be attributed to their frequent hospital visits.
Japanese people take advantage of their excellent healthcare system by never forgetting to get their annual health check and going to the doctor as soon as possible when getting sick. If you are covered by health insurance in Japan, you should take advantage of it as well and not let the language barrier stop you from visiting the hospital when you need to.
This post walks you through a typical process at a hospital or clinic in Japan. Whether it’s for a health check or you find something unusual about your health, we hope that this post can guide you through the process!
Finding the Right Clinic
In western countries, your first visit would be to a General Practitioner and transfer to a more specialized clinic if necessary. In Japan, however, there is no general practitioner clinic and you go directly to the more specialized clinic that’s most appropriate for your symptoms. There are many different types of clinics for different medical fields so the first step would be to figure out which one to go to for your current condition. For example, if you’re having sinus problems, you would go to an Ear Nose Throat clinic. If you’re having skin problems, then a dermatologist is your answer. If you’re going for an annual checkup, you would go to an Internal Medicine clinic. Going to the right clinic from the start can save you money and time spent being referred back and forth to the correct one.
Should I go to an English Speaking Clinic?
In big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, there are a handful of clinics that have built their reputation for being English friendly. However, from our experience, doctors in most clinics can actually understand a good amount of English. The reason is that many medical terminologies in Japanese actually come from English, so medical schools are required to teach English as part of their curriculum. This isn't to say that all doctors can, but there is a good chance that you may end up with a doctor that can speak a fair amount of English.
What You Need During Your Visit
During your first visit to an institution, you will need to bring your health insurance card and another form of ID like your residence card. After that, you will receive a patient registration card(診察券) and you are required to bring your health insurance card only during the first visit of every month. If you also have a referral from another hospital or clinic, you should show them that as well.
Before your visit, we also recommend writing down your symptoms and things you want to say on a piece of paper, both in English and in Japanese if possible. Whether you and your doctor speak the same language or not, communication is essential when it's about your health and having a note can help your doctor better understand your circumstances.
1. Registration / Reception
When you show up at the front desk, you tell them your reason for the visit and hand over your ID along with your patient registration card (診察券) and referral(推薦) if you have one. If it's your first time visiting the institution, you have to make a patient registration card. Also, let them know if you made a reservation.
Japanese Words and Phrases
|It's my first time||初疹です||しょしんです||shoshin des|
|I made an appointment||予約しました||よやくしました||yoyaku shimashita|
| || || || |
Next, they would ask you to fill out another questionnaire(問診票) for your current conditions and symptoms. If you wrote down some notes, now would be a good time to reference what you wrote. If you have stronger symptoms, it's safer to let them know directly as well.
2. Consulting the Doctor
When your name or number is called, it's finally time to consult with the doctor. Now is the time when your note will come in handy. Make sure to let your doctor see your notes as well as communicating verbally. It's important that the doctor knows about your symptoms, any course of action, and any medicine you've been taking.
These are some questions the doctor might ask you.
Japanese Words and Phrases
|What happened?||どうなりました？||どうなりました？||dou narimashita?|
|What kind of symptoms are you having?||どんな症状がありました？||どんなしょうじょうがありました？||don na shoujou ga arimashita?|
|Since when did you have those symptoms?||その症状はいつからありました？||そのしょうじょうはいつからありました？||sono shoujyou wa itsukara arimashita?|
|Do you have any idea what the cause could be?||何か思い当たる原因がありますか？||なにかおもいあたるげんいんがありますか？||nanika omoi ataru gen-nin ga arimasuka?|
After your consultation, the doctor will most likely perform some tests, give you treatment, or prescribe you medicine.
3. Test or Treatment
If the doctor decides to run some tests or give you treatment, he/she will first wait in the lobby while they set up the equipment. Many hospitals and clinics in cities like Tokyo have a rotation system where after any course of action, they will ask you to go back and wait in the lobby, so expect to go back and forth from the lobby at least 2 to 3 times during your visit.
Japanese Words and Phrases
4. End of visit
Your visit will come to an end at the reception desk with the payment. If you have a reoccurring treatment, you will schedule this here. If the doctor prescribed you medicine, you pick up your prescription paper here and bring it to the nearest pharmacy(処方). We hope that this guide was helpful for your next hospital visit!
Here are some other useful vocabulary and words that can be used to write your symptoms note.