As I have completed my amazing study abroad program, I would like to sum up my experience. I participated in a Pitt Panther Program called Comparative Healthcare in Graz. It was a 5 week program, with 4 weeks spent in Graz, Austria, and the final week in Maribor, Slovenia. We also had weekend trips in Austria to Salzburg and Vienna, and on our free weekend many of us went to Carinthia. In Slovenia, we visited many locations including the capital, Lake Bled, and the Postojna caves. It was a 6 credit program with 2 courses; World Comparative Healthcare Systems and the History of Medicine and Healthcare.
I have definitely grown from this program. It was great to meet my 13 peers on this program and create close friendships and unforgettable shared memories. I also am proud to have accomplished navigating a new country, including transportation and some itineraries, as well as Austrian culture and German language. I also maintained an appropriate balance of exploration and studying, which was an initial goal of mine. I have learned so much on this program. I enjoyed our history lesson about Austrian culture and grew more excited when further expanding my knowledge at museums we went to. I also got a first hand look at healthcare in Austria and Slovenia, as we got to visit many different institutions such as the hospital, homeless shelter that provides medical treatment and the first hospice for the homeless in the world, disability support, refugee care, and more. I also enjoyed learning about their insurance system and how they set their pharmaceutical drugs prices, as we contrasted to and learned about how Big Pharma grew in the United States . This further dive into learning about healthcare systems is very beneficial and important to me as a Pre-Medical student at Pitt and future physician, where I can discuss my experiences of these varieties of healthcare delivery I explored.
My main takeaways from the program include the knowledge I have gained about Austrian healthcare- from its origins to insurance to delivery as well as the experiences from the visits to numerous healthcare institutions and discussions with providers. The unique experiences and insight I gained during this program has helped me open my eyes to the world of healthcare more, enabling me to further confirm my passion for the medical field. At Pitt Honors, I hope I can share my experiences of my study abroad with other students interested in the healthcare field, and I would definitely recommend this study abroad program! The knowledge I’ve gained has also allowed me to think about the benefits and issues with different types of healthcare systems as a future physician, as there is not a perfect healthcare system. I also believe that the experiences of learning and witnessing various organizations support minority groups such as refugees, homeless, and disabled patients will help me bring these significant issues in the healthcare system to focus and help me advocate for my patients in the future. I am so grateful to have gained so much knowledge, experience, and extraordinary memories on this unique Pitt Comparative Healthcare in Graz study abroad program!