Apart from all of the fun I have had traveling so far during my time abroad, one of the main aspects of studying abroad is the studying. Currently, I am taking four classes that are the equivalent of 16 credits using Drexel’s system. These classes include Economics of Healthcare, Healthcare in Costa Rica, Spanish, and Vulnerable Populations. Of these four, my most relevant class is most definitely Spanish (for obvious reasons). However, the one that I believe has most expanded my perspective on medical care is Vulnerable Populations.
Vulnerable Populations is a class that talks about minority populations with the lens of different aspects of disease, treatment, and overall experience in healthcare. It allows us to explore differences in the system between the United States and Costa Rica while being centered around the specific people that disparities affect. I have found that the differences between vulnerable populations in Latin America and the United States are interesting, but found the similarities even more fascinating.
Another interesting aspect of the class is the emphasis on preventative medicine. I have found that many of my classes at Drexel have focused on curative care, with my public health classes sometimes touching on preventative medicine. However, the large emphasis on preventative medicine here is very apparent. Considering the small size of the country, Costa Rica definitely has a very decent healthcare system. Much of this depends on preventative care to avoid larger issues in the long run. The emphasis on outreach towards vulnerable populations such as women or Indigenous people is also very important. By reaching out, these populations are not neglected in the same way. There is a lot of progress to make, but many steps have been made to encourage inclusiveness when it comes to access to health.
In addition, this class is paired with rotations at a local private hospital. I have had the opportunity to follow doctors around and ask questions to better see the healthcare system in action. This has been incredible in expanding my understanding of the many different types of people and backgrounds of where people come from. Learning about medical care in a completely new culture has allowed me to add a whole new layer of understanding when it comes to treating patients with different backgrounds.
Overall, this class and the shadowing rotations have reinforced my decision to pursue public health as a minor. The cultural understanding that I have gained is irreplaceable and has reminded me that I have so much more to learn as I continue my journey towards medicine.
Examples of the different communities that people in Costa Rica live in