Environmental and Occupational Health Practice
Online ISSN : 2434-4931
Workstyle reform for Japanese doctors
Akizumi Tsutsumi
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2020 Volume 2 Issue 1


Workstyle reform for Japanese doctors is a priority of Japanese labor policy. Factors influencing this include the low birthrate and longevity of the population and the long working hours experienced by Japanese workers. Long working hours imperil the health of doctors and create discord between their work and other life roles. The Japanese government enacted measures to promote workstyle reform for doctors, including a provision that capped legal overtime work. The limit was set to sustain healthcare services in the community. However, the allowed level of overtime is substantially higher than the so-called “line of karoshi” at which point worker compensation for work-related medical disorders is approved. Despite limited research, several measures can be considered to reduce health risks of overworked doctors, such as recommending psychological detachment from clinical work and maintaining work-life balance. Doctors should realize that self-care is a professional imperative. Organizational efforts from public administration entities or hospitals are required to secure the health of doctors. The number of surgeons and obstetricians has not recently increased. Gender role stereotyping has encouraged male Japanese doctors to work long hours and makes it difficult for female doctors to continue their professional life after childbirth. Without reforming the workstyle and protecting the health of doctors, younger workers, particularly women, are liable to avoid entering medical professions. To ensure the provision of good healthcare, it is necessary to change traditional values and improve the work environment. Academics in occupational fields should produce evidence that will help improve Japanese labor policies.

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