Firsthand Exposure

MBA/Health student Kevin Simpson just got back from a one-week travel seminar in London, where he had the opportunity to learn about the English healthcare system firsthand.

“I signed up because it was a chance to expand on what I’ve already learned from an entirely new perspective,” Simpson said.

His group, led by Healthcare Administration Programs Director and Department Chair Rick Gregg and Professor Mona Al-Amin, visited several leading healthcare and healthcare-related institutions, including Paddington Green Health Centre, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), University College London Hospitals (UCLH), the Royal College of Physicians, and The Health Foundation.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn how England handles similar situations and challenges that we face here in the United States,” said MHA student Andre Velasquez.

Practical Learning

During the seminar, the 13 MHA and MBA/Health students met with executives, clinicians, and policy makers to find out how the U.K. became a global leader in clinical care. They learned about nationalized healthcare and near-universal insurance coverage, allocation of resources, and recent reform efforts, including quality improvement and cost containment initiatives.

Simpson’s favorite part of the trip was visiting UCLH. “We explored aspects of the hospital that we learned about in class. It was especially interesting to see how the hospital balances new patient admissions—it operates at 98 percent bed capacity, which is much higher than most hospitals in the U.S.,” he said.

For MHA student Nicole Bouchard, a radiologic technologist and clinical instructor at Mount Auburn Hospital, it was a unique learning opportunity to see what distinguishes the English healthcare system from the U.S. healthcare system. “The guest speakers provided an abundance of information and suggestions about what works in their healthcare system and what does not,” she said.

Velasquez, who is a manager for a private dental practice, has seen many patients in the U.S. make difficult health decisions based on their ability to pay. In contrast, England has a nationalized healthcare system to ensure that everyone has equal access to care. Although taxes are considerably higher in England, “citizens don’t have a fear of accessing healthcare because they don’t have to choose between food and healthcare,” Velasquez said.

For Freda Katunda, the trip solidified her interest in international healthcare. “My goal is to become a leader within the World Health Organization. I want to be a change agent in our global society," she said. This fall, she will attend the London School of Economics.

Building Lasting Connections

Beyond the site visits and guest lectures, there was still plenty of time for sightseeing and fun. The group visited the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and the old St Bart’s Hospital. They also went on walking tours of the city, saw the “Merchant of Venice” at the Globe Theatre, visited nearby pubs, and ate a variety of local food. Several students also rode on the London Eye.

“Having such a great group of students is really what made the trip successful. Everyone was very involved in the discussions and collaborated very well together,” Simpson said.

Velasquez agreed. “Going abroad with like-minded individuals and bonding with my classmates in a special way was a unique experience that I would not have been able to have in Boston. I will forever treasure the memories,” he said, adding that he got engaged at the start of the trip.

Where will you go?

If you’re considering one of the seminars, our students have some advice: Be open-minded. Embrace the culture. And show everyone that you’re eager to learn. We’ll be releasing our 2015-2016 schedule shortly. For more information, visit the Global Travel Seminars webpage.