If someone mentions that he or she ended up in a hospital while traveling Europe during their college years, a variety of wild potential causes may come to mind. It's no wonder that many are surprised when I tell them that I spent the majority of my time while in Europe in several hospitals, by choice, and enjoyed it.
It seems like everywhere one goes, there’s talk about the new healthcare bill. When I first heard of the bill, I had a hard time picking my way through the technicalities, and I didn’t understand how healthcare reform would actually impact the U.S. So, I decided to do some first-hand investigation into the world of healthcare policy, and headed to one of the biggest proponents of universal healthcare, and the happiest country in the world according to several studies: Denmark.
As part of a class with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), I had the privilege of living in central Copenhagen, talking with Danish medical students, and attending lectures and shadowing physicians at several area hospitals. Through my studies, I learned that Danish healthcare is mostly controlled on a regional and municipal level, and maintained with an income-dependent tax of usually at least 50%. Gate-keeping is a vital factor of the system - in most cases Danes must visit their general practitioner before seeing a specialist. The medical students and doctors that I had the opportunity to speak with expressed a high level of satisfaction in the system, which covers the healthcare of all citizens.
One of the most exciting and informative parts of the DIS course was a “study tour” to nearby Poznan and Berlin, which allowed for a first-hand comparison of universal healthcare systems in two additional countries. In Poland, I shadowed a pediatrician and obstetrician at two area hospitals; while in Germany I spent time at HELIOS Klinikum hospital at Berlin-Buch and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine. In both countries, I spoke with incredible physicians and toured impressive hospital facilities, culminating with a glimpse at a 7-Tesla MRI (most used for clinical purposes are 3-Tesla) and an “Operating Room of the Future,” at the Max Delbrück Center. Overall, while the healthcare systems are different, the equipment and facilities available were similar to those in the U.S.
My studies and international hospital visits were an incredible experience that provided me with valuable insight, which I will definitely use the next time I read or discuss anything pertaining to healthcare. I can't wait for my next Eurotrip!