We started this journey excited by the prospects of visiting Japan, a country with a proud and historic past. We ended the fellowship accomplishing those goals, and we left with a great deal of admiration for our orthopaedic colleagues halfway around the world for their excellence in education, clinical care, and research. Their hospitality and attention to the details of our visit were exemplary and a lesson to us as we host visiting fellows in the future. Japan reflects its past, but it also offers a preview into our own nation's future: an aging population, a shrinking workforce, a stagnant economy, nationalized health care, and a mushrooming national debt. Of all of these factors, it is the aging population that we, as orthopaedic surgeons, will be most acutely aware of and involved with. The degenerative disorders that affect elderly patients dominate the landscape of surgical care in Japan. Osteoporosis and osteopenia permeate many aspects of care across orthopaedic subspecialties. The surgeons in Japan are developing innovative and cost-effective means of treating the large volume of older patients within the fiscal constraints of a nationalized health-care system. We learned, and will continue to learn more, from Japan about the management of this growing patient population with its unique pathologies and challenges. With the recent natural disaster and ongoing safety concerns in Japan, the character and will of the people of Japan have been on display. Their courage and resolve combined with order and compassion are a testament to the nation's cultural identity. The seeds of the Traveling Fellowship were planted shortly after Japan's last wide-scale reconstruction, and the ties that have bound the JOA and the AOA together are strengthened through this trying time. We strongly urge our colleagues in the U.S. to help support the people, the physicians, and the health-care system of Japan through its most recent tribulations and offer them the same care and hospitality that we were shown during our fellowship. Japan is an open and friendly nation, and we encourage anyone interested to seek out opportunities to visit or work with our orthopaedic colleagues there. We are grateful to our hosts at each institution as well as to the JOA and AOA organizations for continuing this wonderful tradition. This exchange is now entering its twentieth year. It remains a "trip of a lifetime" for those fortunate enough to be selected. For us, as for many who have participated before us, it will shape our careers in the years to come.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine