Story courtesy of the Department of Family Medicine at Michigan Medicine.

Michael D. Fetters, MD, MPH, MA, professor of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan (U-M), was honored with the Japan America Society of Michigan and Southwestern Ontario’s Award of Excellence. He received the award in December 2022 for his years of service to the Japanese community living in Michigan.

“I am honored to receive this award from the Japan America Society,” Fetters said. “It’s been a privilege for me to work with members of the society and to serve as a conduit between the medical community and the Japanese population in both the United States and Canada to promote the health of Japanese expatriates and residents. Training family medicine physicians in Japan and the U.S. invigorates me as a medical teacher and inspires me to bring a medical and humanistic perspective to the Japan America Society.”

The Japan America Society (JAS) (link is external)established the Award of Excellence to acknowledge Japanese, American and Canadian citizens or organizations whose work has strengthened relations between the people of Japan, the United States and Canada. 

Fetters received the award at the society’s holiday celebration. The event was attended by Yusuke Shindo, consul general of Japan who is based in Detroit; Colin Bird, consul general of Canada in Detroit, and David Roden, former JAS chairman, and president of the Michigan Consular Corps.

“I would like to thank Dr. Michael Fetters for his five years of dedicated service as chairman of this society,” Shindo said at the ceremony. “Dr. Fetters’ linguistic and cultural skills, in addition to his medical and research skills, have made a very significant difference in the lives of so many Japanese patients, families, students and health care professionals — and ultimately, in the quality of Japan-U.S. relations in this region.” 

Roden also expressed his appreciation for Fetters’ efforts.

“Speaking for the local American business community, Dr. Fetters, thank you for your permanent contribution to Japan-US relations,” he said, “and thank you for all you’ve done for this organization that welcomes Japanese people here and gives us all a forum for friendship.”

Fetters has served as chairman of the Japan America Society of Michigan and Southwestern Ontario since 2017. He also founded the Japanese Family Health Program (JFHP) at U-M, which was established in 1994 and is now lead by Assistant Professor Sahoko Little, MD, MPH, of Family Medicine.

In addition to its educational and research missions, JFHP physicians and staff provide linguistically and culturally sensitive care. This unique cross-cultural clinical program within the Department of Family Medicine offers acute, chronic and preventive health care to Japanese-speaking patients. It also provides cross-cultural family medicine educational opportunities in both Japan and the U.S., as well as research initiatives on the influence of culture on medicine.  

Fluent in Japanese, Fetters has been instrumental in promoting and developing the specialty of family medicine for medical residents in Japan through the grant-funded Shizuoka-University of Michigan Advanced Residency Training, Education and Research in Family Medicine (SMARTER FM).

Additionally, Fetters has promoted the exchange of medical students, residents and faculty between U-M and teaching institutions in Japan including Shiga Medical University in Shiga Prefecture; Nara Medical University in Nara, Japan; and the University of Tokyo.

The Japan America Society of Michigan and Southwestern Ontario is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization based in Detroit. The society, which includes corporate and individual members, is dedicated to strengthening the ties of friendship between the Japanese people and the citizens of the Greater Detroit and Windsor area. It also assists in developing a common understanding of the economic, political and cultural diversity of Japanese people who live and the Japanese corporations that function in the region.

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