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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Doctor-short Iwate town to pay for Vietnamese student's medical studies


MORIOKA, Iwate Pref. — An Iwate Prefecture town has launched a program to help a Vietnamese student qualify as a doctor in Japan to overcome the severe shortage of local physicians.

Ichinohe, population 14,000, only has four doctors in private practice and a single hospital. Mayor Akira Inaba said the town will help train Luu Hong Ngoc, an 18-year-old in Ho Chi Minh City, so she can work in the town 10 years from now.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, it is the first attempt by a local government to support the training of a foreign student as a doctor.

Ngoc, whose mother is a doctor and grandmother is a Japanese interpreter, will come to Japan, possibly this fall, after graduating from a high school affiliated with a national university in the southern Vietnam city.

She is scheduled to study Japanese at a language school in Iwate for about two years, then enroll in a medical college. The town will shoulder most of her living and education costs.

The doctor shortage forced the local prefectural hospital to stop treating patients who have eye problems as well as pregnant women and nursing mothers a couple of years ago.

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