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Faculty of Health Sciences/
Graduate School of Health Sciences/
Department of Health Sciences,
School of Medicine,
Hokkaido University

Message from the Dean

The history of Hokkaido University dates back to the foundation of Sapporo Agricultural College in 1876 followed by the establishment of Hokkaido Imperial University in 1918 and the School of Medicine in 1919. Then the technical schools affiliated to the School of Medicine started producing healthcare professionals.  The lead-off was the education of nurses in September 1920 commenced a year after the School of Medicine was established. Other programs were started to teach students to become midwives in October 1921, clinical radiologists in April 1956 and clinical laboratory technologists in April 1966. The education of physical therapists and occupational therapists subsequently began at the College of Medical Technology, Hokkaido University in April 1981. The history continued in 2003 when the Department of Health Sciences was created in the School of Medicine. It was followed by the establishment of the Graduate School of Health Sciences in April 2008 which added doctoral degree programs in 2010.

The Department of Health Sciences forms part of the School of Medicine and provides undergraduate healthcare science education. Its curriculum consists of healthcare professional education and training for the students in five divisions – nursing, radiological technology, medical technology, physical therapy and occupational therapy – to pass respective national licensure examinations. The Graduate School of Health Sciences, whereas aspires to be a modern institute seeking out new development opportunities by opening its doors to people with a background in science and engineering, pharmaceutical sciences, agricultural sciences and humanities. To add to this, we have established the degree program area and the major field of study in health science in addition to those existing and being associated with the degree programs corresponding to the said health professional occupations. The year 2023 celebrates the 20th year of the Department and the 15th year of the Graduate School. It took a long time for our Department to evolve into a 4-year undergraduate school and our Graduate School to be launched with a prehistory and tradition of training healthcare specialists which continue to date.

Modern societies face many challenges including depopulation caused by a declining birthrate and aging population, large-scale disasters, human-threatening infectious diseases and armed conflicts. Having said that, however, I positively anticipate our societies developing along with technological advances in ICT and AI even when they provoke thoughts about what challenges the future may hold and how ethics can deal with the challenges. The lessons we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic are that we now live in an age where challenges in healthcare must be addressed globally. But I believe that our foremost importance and primal value remain in human lives, health and everyday living in any circumstances at any time. We can educate, research and practice in the discipline of health sciences which covers the prediction and prevention of diseases for people in good shape or presymptomatic stages. The discipline in fact allows various perspectives and approaches of studies around the core health domain.

“The Japan Vision: Health Care 2035 Final Report” advocates a shift in eras from a “cure-centered” focus on the cure of disease and life support to a “care-centered” approach. The enhancement and maintenance of QoL have been more in need for patients with illnesses. A shift to “care-centered” communication begins by offering support, standing in care recipients’ shoes and helping them live their own lives. Commitment to further understand others is vital while demands grow in medical provision substantiated with expertise and the latest applied evidence. Moreover, whether you live a long healthy life determines whether or not happiness will come your way. It is our mission at the Faculty of Health Sciences to generate knowledge to address healthcare challenges and facilitate human resources development to provide healthcare professionals who can apply their knowledge and practical skills at various medical front lines regardless of whether within the country or abroad.

The research and education development and the outreach efforts to address community challenges are in progress at our institute which evoke Hokkaido University’s basic philosophies: “Frontier Spirit”, Global Perspective”, “All-round Education” and “Practical Learning”. 

As we look ahead to what challenges may happen and keep carrying on our vision, our faculty and staff are committed to playing a strong team to act and advance toward future goals for people’s health and well-being. 

Professor YANO Rika
Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences

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