If you’re a freshly-arrived JET, this won’t affect you, since you were required to have a health check-up before you joined the JET program. For all others who are continuing on, before starting your next year as a Japanese teacher, you’re required to have a medical check-up. *Update: Sorry, my mistake! These records are not given to the school, so if your school says that you need to get a health check up, you need to respect that and get one done. Of course, if you have your medical records with you, you may be able to politely point out that you’ve just had one done in your home country. Your school is the ultimate authority, however.
I’ve gone through the medical check-ups twice, but both times it was at the same high school and the same process, so if you’ve had a different experience, be sure to mention the differences in the comments!
A week or two before my medical exam, I was handing a piece of paper with lots of check boxes and my personal information on it. I was told to keep hold of it, becuase it will be needed later for the health check.
In Japan, all companies are required to provide a yearly health check — this includes (requires) a chest x-ray for all teachers.
On Health Check Day (August 4th at my school), I went downstairs with my health-check paper to the nurses room any time from 9 am – 11am. The health check took me about 20 minutes. I’m telling you what it was like, because I feel a lot more at ease when I know what’s coming — especially if I’m not very good at the language and can’t ask easily.
First stop was a table with two men who gave me a number and told me to go to a little orange x-ray trailer that was stationed outside. Inside the trailer was a male doctor who did my lung x-ray. Just a heads up for the ladies: you should wear a shirt without buttons, and if you have one, wear a bra without an underwire. Otherwise, you’ll need to remove your shirt and bra when you get into the trailer, and that can be a little uncomfortable for some people. This year my doctor was very friendly and politely stepped into a room so I could prepare myself for the x-ray. Once you’ve removed your bra, etc., you will face towards a white square the size of your torso, and put your chin on a chinrest. The doctor may ask (or mime) for you to squat down a little if you’re taller, so that you’re appropriately positioned for the x-ray. Then, the doctor will tell you to stand still, leave the room, and take the x-ray. After that, you’re free to get dressed again.
The next stop was the urinalysis station. Again, I handed my paper with my information to a nice woman, who handed me a blue cup with a little dotted fill-line. She pointed out the direction of the bathroom, I dutifully peed in my cup, and returned it back to her. She jotted some information on my paper and handed it back to me, gesturing for me to go to the next room.
In this room, someone took my weight and my height and jotted it down. Then I went to the next desk and someone did a blood pressure check. They put the little blood pressure monitor around my arm, told me to relax, and waited for it to finish tightening and loosening again. More jotting of notes.
Next I was asked to go to a station where a woman was supposed to ask me a bunch of medical questions. Last year my supervisor had just asked me these questions in advanced (they were on the medical information paper that I got ahead of time), but this year I had a new supervisor and she didn’t ask me the questions in advance. This variety of questions included “Do you smoke?”, “How often do you exercise”, and stranger ones such as “Do you eat faster or slower than the average person?” Fortunately I spotted an English teacher in the room and he got roped into asking me these medical questions. If you can’t read/understand Japanese, you may want to make sure you’ve paired up with an English teacher when you do your medical test — or even better, see if you can answer these questions in advance.
Lastly, I was told to go in to meet with “the doctor” who checked my eye, my pulse, had me lift up my shirt and checked my breathing, asked me some questions I couldn’t understand, and then told me I was finished.
The other Japanese teachers also had their blood drawn, but it wasn’t required for me, and I was happy enough not to do it. If I was interested, I’m guessing I would have been allowed to have it taken as well.
If you’re unable to do the medical check with the rest of the teachers at the school (because you’re traveling or otherwise), there are other places you can go to have it done. Don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor about this if you need to.
So how about you? Was your medical check the same, or were there some differences?