Greeting Graz: Introduction

Hello! My name is Hailey Spencer and I am a rising sophomore at Pitt. I am pursuing a Microbiology major with minors in Chemistry and Studio Arts, in addition to a Conceptual Foundations of Medicine certificate. This summer, I am participating in the Comparative Healthcare in Graz global program. For this 5-week study abroad experience, I spend 4 weeks in Graz, Austria with weekend trips to Salzburg and Vienna, in addition to staying in Maribor, Slovenia for the final week. Currently, I am on my third week of the program and time is flying by! We take 6 credits total during this experience in the form of two courses: History of Medicine and Healthcare, and World Comparative Healthcare Systems. In between class sessions, we go on various excursions to hospitals, apothecaries, and geriatric centers, amongst many other locations, and hear from healthcare professionals about how their respective practice operates and is integrated into Austrian healthcare and society as a whole. 

As a student on the pre-med track, I was particularly motivated to participate in this program to learn about the differences between the European healthcare system compared to that of the United States. Being a STEM major, I take an abundance of classes in the sciences, but do not have the opportunity to learn about the healthcare system aspect of the medical field. This study abroad program gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in a completely different healthcare model than the United States and truly learn first-hand about the policies, benefits, drawbacks, and differences that exist within the Austrian health system.

Given my aspiration to be a doctor, this program will provide me with invaluable insight into different types of healthcare systems which I will be able to apply to my own career in the field of medicine. Successful policy and organization are critical to the prosperity of a healthcare system. By learning more about the specific aspects that make for a successful health system, and how these aspects differ between countries to fit each region’s respective needs, I will already have background and first-hand knowledge when approaching related topics in medical school and as a doctor. Furthermore, by understanding the history and development of medicine and healthcare delivery, I will have a solid foundation of knowledge to bring with me through medical school and know how the current methods and practices used came about. 

I am so excited to see what the next few weeks of my study abroad experience hold, and can’t wait to share more soon! Tschüss!

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