PIONE and MUSCAT Project



Support Program for Medical Practitioners in the Northern Area of Okayama Prefecture

Productive Interactive Okayama Niimi Empowerment

Background of Medical Practice in Niimi-shi, Okayama Prefecture
The Chronic Doctor Shortage Region
To keep Medical professions working in the area is Key
Opened the PIONE Project Satellite Office in Niimi University in 2014
Appointed a Local Female Doctor as the Project Leader
Project mission
Providing career support to female doctors in doctor shortage area
Cultivating human resources and leadership materials for the medical practice in there

Support Programs Provided by Okayama University for the Target Region

  • To Provide Local Medical Practitioners with Support Events to Enhance Their Medical Knowledge and Skills
  • To Support and Encourage the Local Community to promote “Community with Healthy living”
  • To Assist Local Medical Institutes to Introduce "Career Support Programs"

This project is supported by "MUSCAT Project"

  • The MUSCAT Project has successfully assisted over 140 female doctors; it is the largest successful support project in Japan.
  • Selected as the MEXT FY2013-2017 Project for Promotion of a Human Resource Development Site in Medical Research
  • Selected as the MHLW FY2015 Project for Promotion of a Career Support Model for Female Doctors

1.Social Background

As the number of female doctors has increased in recent years (30% of young doctors are female), the importance of preventing them from leaving the medical profession due to life events such as child care, as well as supporting them to return to their professional jobs, has drawn much attention. Since 2007, Okayama University has been conducting the career support program for female doctors called the Medical Professions Universal Support and Career Development with Active Teamwork (MUSCAT) Project, and successfully supported over 140 doctors (as of March 2019); this is an outstanding achievement in Japan. We are now planning to expand the program by providing career development support in regions with doctor shortages to resolve various issues in the community.

2.Project Goals and Objectives

Our goal is to tackle the issues in the communities of regions with few doctors (Niimi-shi, Okayama Prefecture) by providing career development support program for female doctors and medical staffs to prevent them from leaving their jobs as well as to support them to return to their professional jobs in spite of their life events.


  1. Providing career support to female doctors in the area
  2. Cultivating human resources and leadership materials for the medical practice in the area

3.Project Outline

In 2014, we launched a support project called the Productive Interactive Okayama Niimi Empowerment Project (PIONE Project) to assist female doctors and medical staffs in the northern area of Okayama Prefecture, by appointing a local female doctor as the project leader and setting up the PIONE satellite office at Niimi University. The doctor works both at Okayama University Hospital and Niimi-shi, determining the actual needs in medical practice and collaborating with the MUSCAT Career Center. Through our collaboration, we have successfully been able to: 1) hold a series of hands-on seminars in Niimi-shi to enhance medical skills and knowledge by using the latest educational equipment (e.g., simulators) as well as conduct online remote lectures connecting Okayama University and Niimi-shi; 2) hold general public participation-type symposiums open to the local population to determine public needs; and 3) establish a career support system (e.g., flexible working shifts) in the medical institutes of Niimi-shi.

Project Keys

Assisting local medical institutes to introduce career support programs
  • Introducing a short working hour system for doctors who have difficulty working regular hours owing to their private obligations such as childcare or caring for elders
  • Improving the working environment to be more favorable for work-family balance
Contributing to the enrichment of medical services in the region and establishing a close network between medical practitioners and local citizens
  • Holding exchange meetings for medical practitioners, medical students, and local citizens to interact with each other
  • Sponsoring/supporting health promotion activities for local citizens
Providing medical practitioners in the region with career support programs
  • Providing technical support training programs with simulators
  • Providing knowledge support in the form of online lectures
  • Cultivating leadership materials to support medical practices in the region
  • Introducing a mentor system as well as career consulting service for young medical practitioners
Developing support programs to cultivate medical practitioners in future generations
  • Providing lecture tours for elementary and junior high schools
  • Providing hospital backstage tours and hands-on seminars on medical practice

4.Expected Effects

We are expecting that our support project will encourage female medical professions to remain in the clinical field and improve their working environment in total. As for Niimi-shi, we are expecting the program to improve the overall situation in providing medical services. In fact, we have received reports that show a decrease in the number of emergency transports to other cities from Niimi-shi; we are expecting further improvements in the future.