Ah yes, Core Course week, perhaps one of the hallmarks that makes DIS a very unique study abroad program. On Monday, Human Health & Disease Section B went to Kolding and Middelfart (literally pronounced “middle fart”; in the words of Elie Shinder: “I can’t make this shit up.”). The purpose of our trip was to visit hospitals outside of Copenhagen to gain a broader understanding of the coveted Danish healthcare system.
It was an honor to visit the gynecology department in Kolding, followed by a visit to the innovative ICU/Anesthesiology department in Odense, and our trip culminated in Middelfart by learning about General Practitioners, the “gatekeepers” of the Danish healthcare system. As someone searching for a compelling, intrinsic motivating force that seeks to answer why I want to study medicine, I will admit that this trip did just that, and the answer, quite simply, is that the U.S. needs a lot of work.
Many of us felt that Denmark is a medical utopia, not only for the universal accessibility to their residents but also for those who practice medicine. We learned that even medical school is fully-funded by the government, and the Danes receive a monthly stipend equivalent to $800 USD; Danish doctors typically work from 7 am – 3 pm, which averages to about 37 hours/week, and no doctor has to hire a malpractice lawyer since all medical complications are handled by the Danish government. Additionally, each doctor is trained equally, in that each medical student receives the same curricula as those studying at a medical university in another part of Denmark. This ensures that no matter where you live, you receive a high-quality care of medicine. In essence, medicine in Denmark is perfect. Right?
Well, for me, not quite so.
Don’t misunderstand—I do hope that one day the United States figures out a way that can disentangle capitalistic influence in medical decisions which also prevents certain demographics from receiving quality medical attention. However, much of this felt “stressless”—which sounds strange because I’m sure you’re thinking “but isn’t being stressed bad?” I would argue with: “An inordinate amount of stress that deteriorates your health is—but for me, some stress pushes me to be more than a ‘good enough’ doctor. It makes me want to be the best I can be.” It also reminded me that as a scientist, I do not want to go to a place that is, in my eyes, “perfect,” because my desire is to use my rigorous training to be proactive within the scientific and medical community to make a difference. It reminded me that my desire to be “perfect” isn’t necessarily to be without flaws, but rather to constantly search for problems that exist—either domestically or internationally—and determine how I can involve myself either through knowledge or action.
Core Course Week was not just about professional and academic development—it was about personal growth as well, and how fortunate was I that the students I embarked with these past three days happened to be some of the sweetest, inspiring pre-medical students? (The answer is: Very fortunate). We all went on a rope course called Funky Monkey on our first day, trips to museums, group dinners, movie night, and bonding happening at every opportunity. I appreciated how collaborative the group is but more importantly how inclusive. It was a reminder that good people are working hard to become doctors, and that these are the people that I hope to work with during and after my medical training.
Core Course week reminded me that I love medicine for the reason that I love humanity so much. I loved the simple pleasures of making those laugh, learning about people’s lives, debating about controversial topics for the sake of progress, comprehending another culture’s way of life and practice, and more. I loved my first Core Course Week.