No.30Original text is in Japanese
Falling in Love with America—Ms. Yahata Asari’s Experiences as a Student and Researcher while Studying Different Public Insurance Systems and Their Impact on the Regional Uses of Social Resources
Ms. Yahata Asari’s interest in the United States was sparked by her experience as an exchange student at Colorado State University during her third year of undergraduate studies. She remarks, “We all sat on the grass studying under the blue sky. Before my eyes lay a scenery that I had only seen in TV dramas.” Ms. Yahata thought she would study abroad to learn a foreign language. However, at the health science university, she was too busy with her practicum and graduation thesis to follow her dream. She says, “I thought that, if possible, I would study occupational therapy itself, rather than studying English.” Her plan had been to attend graduate school in the United States after obtaining some experience as an occupational therapist in Japan. Even after leaving her hometown and starting her work, she was determined to go to the United States.
At the University of Pittsburgh, Ms. Yahata’s research involved an overview of the effect of specific health insurance systems on a certain patients’ disorders and occupational therapists. It is noted that public health insurance systems significantly differ between Japan and the United States: Whereas a National Health Insurance system is in place in Japan, many people are enrolled in group health insurance plans mediated by their places of work or other group affiliations or purchase individual health insurance plans in the United States. She states, “I learned the differences among these systems’ effects on our profession. In Japan, physicians and the co-medical staff discuss a case and implement the result in practice. On the other hand, in the United States, despite the occurrence of such communication, nothing more can be done if the insurance company discontinues its services. My research interest continues to examine how the difference in public health insurance systems will affect the use of social resources in different regions.”
Currently, Ms. Yahata is participating in Fulbright’s Post-Degree Academic Training Program and working as an activity assistant at ManorCare Health Services, Pittsburgh. She remarks that she had never thought she could learn so much or gain such a rich experience; “Fulbright supports my excitement and passion. I am thankful to Fulbright for encouraging me to obtain special permission to join a research and publication program. Fulbright has brought out my social and research abilities.”
Ms. Yahata plans to work in a research and occupational therapy fields after returning to Japan. It is remarkable that the first individual to become an occupational therapist in Japan 50 years ago was a Fulbright scholar. As a next-generation Fulbrighter, she will bring with her a unique perspective to occupational therapy.
A wonderful human network through this experience.