Two Doctors Make the Cut to Become Prefecture’s First Cardiovascular Surgeons

Cardiovascular surgery is a sub-speciality of surgery specialists. In order to become one, applicants must first pass the examination to become a Board Certified Surgeon, before meeting rigorous requirements to qualify for further appraisal by completing a set number of surgeries including highly complex cardiovascular surgical operations, and undertaking academic research such as publishing first-author papers. Only then can applicants sit for a written examination that would qualify them as full-fledged cardiovascular surgeons. The criteria for becoming a cardiovascular surgeon are one of the most stringent of all medical specialist qualifications in Japan. Becoming a cardiovascular surgeon means one possesses a level of technical skill to handle almost all kinds of cardiovascular surgery.

This January, Dr. Moriyasu Nakaema and Dr. Ryoko Arakaki from Surgery II of the University Hospital were recognized as cardiovascular surgeons after successfully meeting all requirements for qualification. Dr. Nakaema has received the appointment in his speciality of peripheral vascular surgery. It is particularly difficult to become a cardiovascular surgeon in this field, as only a small number of doctors share the same credentials amongst some 200 cardiovascular surgeons in the Kyushu region. Of the 30 specialists in Okinawa, Dr. Nakaema is the only one to have made the cut. Recent years have seen a rise in people with atherosclerotic peripheral vascular diseases, a condition that is treatable with surgery, but the country currently faces a severe shortage of surgeons in this field. There are hopes that more specialist surgeons will be appointed in future.

Dr. Ryoko Arakaki has received her qualification in the field of adult cardiac surgery. This achievement by a female doctor deserves special mention because Dr. Arakaki is only the fourth woman to do so in Kyushu, and is the first female doctor to become a cardiovascular surgeon in Okinawa. Although there has been a growing number of female surgeon specialists in Japan, Dr. Arakaki’s example is especially noteworthy because of the extreme difficulty in obtaining the qualification in the sub-speciality of cardiovascular surgery. Her achievement will certainly provide much motivation to other female doctors in Japan who share similar goals.

Both doctors’ appointments are landmark accomplishments for Okinawa, marking firsts in the field of peripheral vascular surgery and for female doctors in the prefecture, and high anticipation surrounds their prospects in future.

(From left) Dr. Ryoko Arakaki, Professor Yukio Kuniyoshi of the Department of Thoracic Cardiovascular Surgery and Dr. Moriyasu Nakaema

(From left) Dr. Ryoko Arakaki, Professor Yukio Kuniyoshi of the Department of Thoracic Cardiovascular Surgery and Dr. Moriyasu Nakaema