Week 36

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This week, I have had calm and relaxing days at home while cleaning the house, responding to accumulated emails and preparing my presentation for the probation meeting coming in 10 days.

Luca is now in an uncertain position, as his internship contract will be over in a week and any prospect of staying at his current job has not been seen. He has started applying for jobs, being under pressure from his family.

Goals for Week 37:

  • Make sure that I am ready to deliver my presentation and respond to questions from the panel

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Week 35

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I returned to the UK a week ago, having spent four weeks in Japan doing preliminary fieldwork. It was a pilot observation in my home country, but still, it was an amazing experience.

Since I had worked on literature studies on Japanese issues while living in the UK, every interaction, every event and news article, everything was significant in Japan. When I was in ‘the field’, I had a strong feeling of ‘who I am’, even though I was in a location with which I should be familiar. I often came to a point where I recognised myself as an ‘outsider’ in the field.

During my fieldwork, my sanctuary (a place away from the research site and where I can take a break!) was my family and friends. Seeing my close friends was truly the best part of my stay, and I really needed a period of time not thinking about my data and research.

The hardest part of this preliminary fieldwork was explaining the research to anyone who could be a research participant. As other researchers have often said before, this was the most unpleasant feeling I had in the field, because I could not hide my intention in speaking with each person: ‘I just want your data’. I have seen advice to ‘start doing what you do in any non-research situation, and show interest in them quite simply.’ I tried to make conversation with them on non-research topics, but it was really hard to continue with it. It was partly because they were busy and I needed to rush in order to include everything that I needed to explain, and partly due to my inadequate fieldwork skills.

Soon after I returned to England, I organised my field notes and some documents that people had given me. I also worked on my documents for the probation meeting in two weeks’ time.

On the day I left Japan, August 30th, I ate katsudon, which is a popular Japanese food. There is a tradition that Japanese students eat katsudon before an important exam, because ‘katsu’ is a homophone of the verb Katsu which means ‘to win’ or ‘to be victorious’.

My achievements in Week 35:

  • Finished writing my field notes and all my drafts for the probation review, and submitted them!

Goals for Week 36:

  • Have some proper rest
  • Prepare my presentation and questions for the probation review

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Week 34

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After my fieldwork in Tokyo, I flew to Kagoshima, my mum’s hometown, to conduct my second observation and to stay with my mum throughout the week. I had contacted three nursing homes through my family connections, and the facilities had shown positive attitudes towards taking part in the study.

The staff (managers, nurses and caregivers) showed positive interests in my research and in possibly participating in the research, and they agreed to my presence during activities in the home, but the doctors’ reactions were not as positive. The allied doctors working for the facilities said that they do not verbally interact with their elderly patients except when undertaking tasks. ‘At elderly care homes, the condition of most of the patients is constantly checked and it is very normal not to make conversation with the patients. Just a few sentences are spoken, like “hello. how are you today?” When the patient replies “I am fine”, the interaction is over and the patients hardly speak to doctors either.’ Eventually, all the doctors told me that they do not make a lot of conversation with elderly patients within the facilities and I would not get suitable data, meaning that the prospect of their participation is very low.

I had an opportunity to meet a physician, the director of a large hospital, which was my final chance. He quietly listened to my explanations on the research. He recommended that I see a physician who is interested in the patient-centred concept and communication skills in a clinical context. He immediately phoned the doctor and I made an appointment to see him.

On Friday, I flew back to Tokyo, as I had some appointments. Friday night, I met up with my old teacher and classmates for the first time in four years, which was a really nice reunion. On Sunday afternoon, I visited a physician, and he agreed to participate in my research! Sunday night, I met up with my old friend, Jimmy, for dinner. On Monday (Week 35), I flew to Kagoshima again to see the physician to whom I was introduced and stayed with my mum. His reaction towards my research was very positive and he told me that he would be willing to help. I felt greatly relieved and thought that there are certainly some medical doctors who are genuinely interested in patient-doctor communication and academic studies on the issues.

Throughout my four-week fieldwork during August, I have met seven doctors and visited six clinics/facilities. I also met up with 18 friends of mine in Tokyo, which were actually the best parts of my stay!

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Week 33

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Week 33 was full of socialising with friends of mine, Asuka, Nanami, Keiko and Fuyuhiko. Luca also came to Japan for the first time in nine months for a holiday. Overall, I spent this whole week talking with my friends and going sightseeing around Tokyo and Nagoya with Luca. For my research, I only completed translating all information forms and did no reading this week.

Whenever I met up with my close friends to have a chat, I feel the best part of a friendship! Since I started living overseas, all of my friends have been more special to me than ever before because we know that we do not live in the same country and we can only see each other once a year. It was great to see them and catch up!

On Tuesday, I picked up Luca at Narita airport. We enjoyed exploring Shinagawa (for Sukiyaki dinner), Shibuya (to meet up with Fuyuhiko), Nagoya (for one-day Shinkansen trip), Harajuku, Ginza (for dinner with my dad) and Tokyo Station (for shopping and Karaoke) over five days! My dad and I took him to a traditional style sushi restaurant, where sushi chefs directly take orders from customers and prepare sushi in front of them. He seemed very satisfied with any kind of sushi and also with most of the Japanese food that he had in Japan (but he really did not like Yakitori). We fully enjoyed our holidays, but at night, I worked on making information sheets for my fieldwork, and he worked on updating his CV to apply for a new position.

On Sunday, he flew back to England, and I flew to Kagoshima to start my second fieldwork for the next five days.

My achievements in Week 33:

  • Completed the translations of all information sheets and consent forms

Goals for Week 34:

  • Visit some locations for my field research
  • Complete descriptions of my thesis structure
  • Finish writing Chapter 3

Week 32

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It’s been very humid and hot in Tokyo. I have been meeting with a lot of people who are relevant to my research every day. Week 32 can be described as ‘walked hard’.

I started conducting my preliminary fieldwork in Tokyo. I visited two facilities, and I was allowed to make observations in seven medical consultations and take notes. In each, a doctor, a nurse, a patient and the patient’s family were there – although I was not allowed to take audio-recordings this time. The doctor introduced me to the patients, and we greeted each other. It was an opportunity for the patients to understand who I am and what I am studying. Eventually, I was able to select some patients who are likely to be eligible and take part in my project. I also had a great opportunity to meet several doctors who are likely to participate in my research.

There is one thing that greatly contradicts my expectation. Initially, I had planned to observe two kinds of healthcare services. One is a doctor’s home visit, and my observations of the home visit have been going well. The other one is nursing homes for elderly people, which turned out to be a very different setting than I expected in terms of the interactions between the older people and the professionals.

Some healthcare professionals gave me advice, telling me that I might need to focus on doctors’ home visits. Home visits from a doctor can be a type of social situation involving multiple people, such as a doctor, a nurse, a patient and the patient’s family members for most of the cases. In addition, doctors who are willing to go for home visits to elderly patients’ houses are highly likely to have an interest in the concept of patient-centeredness. I haven’t reported this aspect to my supervisors yet, but I must do so as soon as possible. I am now organising my fieldnotes from the observations.

My achievements in Week 32:

  • Started networking with healthcare professionals and made observations in seven consultations

Goals for Week 33:

  • Complete the translations of consent forms (for other participants)
  • Attend Luca for Tokyo sightseeing for five days
  • Complete my fieldnotes from the first observations (the notes are still not organised)

Apart from my work, I met up with seven friends of mine! The reunions were great. One of my best friends, Juri, told me that she is opening her new shop soon. This wonderful news made me very happy, excited and motivated for work! Again, I am very happy to have wonderful friends and have gained opportunities to meet great advisors.

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