This past week I had the pleasure of visiting Vienna, Austria for a week with my classmates in my Human Health & Disease course. What a field trip, am I right? It was an incredible experience traveling almost 700 miles away from our classroom in Copenhagen and taking on the streets of Vienna.
We started off our time by doing a walking tour around the main parts of the city, which was extremely beautiful. However, there was a point in our tour where my tour guide expressed how safe it is in the city minus the gang activity at night in the amusement park. Being the basic tourist I am, my friends and I wanted to check out Europe’s tallest ferris wheel during sunset.
Little did we know, the ferris wheel is located within the amusement park. All was well and the views were fantastic at the top of the ride, but on our way back from the park we witnessed a few gang activities which included yelling and choking. This made us pick up our pace back towards our hotel and we promised each other we would not do that again. So all in all, listen to your tour guides ladies and gentlemen.
The class schedule was packed with activities. Two of the five days consisted of visiting different hospitals and clinics back to back and boy did it open my eyes to the healthcare industry. It was surprising hearing about the way Austrians tackle certain medical situations. One that surprised me the most was universal healthcare and its role in patient care.
Austrians have an E-card that allows them free check ups and appointments. It also created a better patient-doctor relationship because many of the care facilities were located in the same building and the doctors have “office hours” where patients can visit them. Unfortunately, all good things come with a little bad. The wait times for patients to get an appointment were much longer than it is the United States; therefore, the longer it takes to see a doctor the more likely it is for their condition to worsen.
Another idea that the doctor presented to the class was that their dedication to patients was a bit different than the States. They explained that in trauma departments, every doctor is trained in each field so that they can handle anything that comes into the room. On the other hand, the US has specialists and general practitioners. Therefore, if there is a specific case that comes in, the general practitioner will contact a specialist. Though a downfall to this is that if a patient comes in late at night, they may need to wait the next morning to seek help.
Even though I respect the way the US structures healthcare, my visits to the hospitals in Vienna made me think of possibly moving to Europe and continuing my education there. It was eye opening to see the way other countries handle healthcare and medicine and how I can take what I learned and apply it to my future. Who knows where I’ll end up, but I can’t wait to see where my curiosity takes me!