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Travel/Study Course Approaches 30th Anniversary

Students
AHS students visited the University of York during the 2011 travel/study course coordinated by Dr. Tom O'Rourke (third from right, back row).

Dorine Aziz, a senior in Community Health with a focus on Rehabilitation Studies, had learned a lot about health care in the United States through her studies. Wanting to learn about health care in other countries, she enrolled in Community Health 494: Health Care Delivery in the United States and the United Kingdom—A Comparative Analysis. This is not your typical class, however; students in CHLTH 494 are offered an in-depth experience with Great Britain’s health care system in visits to England and Scotland.

The international travel/study course, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary with the next trip, was created in 1983 by Professor Emeritus Tom O'Rourke of the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health. Now a joint program with Rice University, the course is offered every two years between spring and summer semesters and takes students to London, York, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. Dr. O'Rourke says the course provides a unique learning opportunity that enhances the quality of their education. "Analyzing health care systems in other industrial countries gives students a first-hand opportunity to observe alternative delivery systems and to identify strategies that may be applicable to the U.S. system," he said. The experience also enhances their opportunities for employment and graduate studies in health professions.

In addition to readings that provide the background for their review/comparison, students visit hospitals, clinics, government agencies, universities, health organizations, and professional organizations. Key elements that they compare and contrast include organization, quality, cost, accessibility, and health promotion and disease prevention strategies. Dorine Aziz, a member of the 2011 cohort, says the most significant thing she learned from her experience with the course was that no health care system is perfect.

"The National Health Service is wonderful, but you notice when you talk to locals that that system has its cons as well as pros," she said. "Every plan has flaws and we just need to try and do what's best for people." Dorine says the experience will stay with her. "This experience has allowed me to think outside the box and to look at things from another perspective," she said. She will carry the knowledge she gained through the rest of her studies and into her career in the health care field.

For more information on the course and how to get involved with the 2013 trip, visit http://kch.illinois.edu/England/.

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