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With Nurses Playing an Increasingly Important Role in Team Medicine, “Physical Assessment” Is Key

July 1 , 2019

As medicine becomes increasingly sophisticated, the concept of “team medicine” has become particularly important. Against this backdrop, nurses are becoming the key players linking doctors and co-medical staff. In rural areas facing doctor shortages, nurses are being required to diagnose patients in place of doctors. With the role demanded of nurses becoming more complex, “physical assessment” is an essential requirement. We asked physical assessment education specialist Prof. Hiromi Jono about the significance and importance of the process.

Interviewer: Masayoshi Nakane


Question: As the aging of Japanese society progresses, physical assessment, in which nurses check the patient’s condition and make an appropriate decision accordingly, is becoming ever more important, isn’t it?

Answer: Physical assessment involves collecting patient information through physical examination, which can include interviews, inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation, as well as follow up questions. This information is then analyzed to consider the optimum type of care for each individual patient. The patient is examined from head to toe to detect any abnormalities—such as whether anything seems out of place, whether their expression is different than before, or whether they’re looking paler or healthier. These physical examinations are used in conjunction with the results of pulse or blood pressure measurements to understand how the patient’s condition has changed. This not only assists nurses in making systematic observations, but also helps them understand the diagnostic procedures performed by doctors.The introduction of the system in Japan was driven by Japanese nurses who had studied in the US during the latter half of the 1990s and seen how their American counterparts engaged in in-depth study of physical assessment, clinical physiology, and clinical pharmacology. In addition to possessing a thorough understanding of and using the same terminology as doctors, nurses are able to communicate the information obtained through observation to co-medical staff such as pharmacists and clinical technologists in easily understandable terms. Having all medical staff understand this terminology as a common language has been a major benefit of the physical assessment system, and it has also helped boost the awareness of nursing staff.


Q: Tokai University’s Faculty of Nursing is part of its School of Medicine —what is the purpose of locating the Faculty within the School of Medicine, and the associated benefits?

A: Professor Kou Sakabe , the Dean of the School of Medicine, has explained that the recent focus on team medicine and multi-disciplinary collaboration is precisely the reason why the Faculty of Nursing was incorporated into the School of Medicine. I also personally believe that having the Faculty within the School of Medicine is particularly meaningful as it allows students to learn and focus on team medicine and multi-disciplinary collaboration from the training stage. Doctors in the School’s Faculty of Medicine are experts in their respective fields of medicine and possess a wide range of in-depth knowledge, so we are blessed with an abundance of resources from both a physical and a manpower perspective. It is up to the Faculty of Nursing to consider how these resources can best be utilized, and I believe there is no reason not to take advantage of our association with the Faculty of Medicine to maximum effect. 

Faculty of Nursing, Tokai University School of Medicine

Dr. Hiromi Jono

Completed a Master’s degree at Kitasato University Graduate School of Nursing , specializing in fundamental nursing. She is a councilor of the Japanese Society of Nursing Art and Science , a standing peer-review committee member of the Japanese Society of Nursing Research , and a board member of the Kanagawa Nursing School Association .