Junior travels to Germany with health policy delegation
Though many college students will study foreign countries, cultures and policies in the classroom, few get the opportunity to experience these things firsthand.
From Nov. 11 to 19, Terrence Liu, a junior majoring in biochemistry with a German studies minor, was in Germany as part of the fifth annual Young Technology Leaders delegation, a transatlantic program that selects 12 undergraduate students, graduate students and young professionals to participate in a weeklong conference abroad.
This year, the delegation‚Äôs focus was ‚ÄúHealthcare Delivery and Medical Technology,‚ÄĚ which Liu said was perfect for him.
‚Äú[The delegation] was a good way to get some real world experience about some issues in health care, and exposure to a lot of the important topics in health care including universal coverage and government versus privatized health care,‚ÄĚ he said.
Liu was chosen from a pool of applicants who were interested in the field of medical technology and health care. This year, only three other undergraduate students accompanied the older professionals on the trip. Liu was the only attendee from USC.
Liu heard about the program from his German professor, Britta Bothe, who also helped him with the application process. Once he was accepted into the program, the next challenge was paying for the trip.
‚ÄúI was lucky to get funded by USG,‚ÄĚ Liu said. ‚ÄúThe Academic and Professional Funding Board covered the program fee of the trip. I just wanted to say thanks to them.‚ÄĚ
A medical school hopeful, Liu plans on eventually becoming a physician and working in health administration or health policy. Liu felt the German conference was a great fit for like-minded students interested in community-based approaches to health care.
More experienced professionals and experts also provided a valuable learning and shared knowledge experience for attendees at the conference.
‚ÄúMy favorite part was being in the company of a lot of really intelligent and experienced professionals,‚ÄĚ Liu said. ‚ÄúI absorbed so much from them just talking with them, spending a week with them. I think I learned a couple month‚Äôs worth of knowledge in that week.‚ÄĚ
Germany, which has a compulsory health insurance system, is a stark contrast to the U.S.‚Äôs privatized health care system. The recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, however, means that learning about the ways that other countries provide government insurance for their citizens is more pertinent than ever before for American citizens.
‚ÄúGoing through conferences and discussions with [policymakers] gave me a better understanding of how health care works and how the German system differs from the U.S. health care system,‚ÄĚ Liu said. ‚ÄúDifferent debates and points of contention gave me a better understanding and a better appreciation of how health care works, and that helps me as a future physician to understand the system I‚Äôll be in.‚ÄĚ
Germany requires all citizens purchase health insurance, but the government only sponsors, not directly controls, the health care system.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not a socialist system, as many Americans tend to think. It‚Äôs less expensive overall because they don‚Äôt pay their doctors as much as they do here,‚ÄĚ Liu said. ‚ÄúBoth systems have advantages and disadvantages, and I‚Äôm not trying to side with the German health care system, but it‚Äôs really interesting to see how it works and why they picked it, and to compare it to the United States.‚ÄĚ
During the conference, Liu had the opportunity to travel to smaller cities in Germany that he had never had the chance to visit before.
Between visiting medical technology firm Dr√§gerwerk AG‚Äôs world headquarters in Lubeck; attending MEDICA, the largest medical trade fair in the world; and learning about the German health care system in Bonn, Liu put his German language skills to use.
‚ÄúI got to experience German culture again,‚ÄĚ Liu said. ‚ÄúI haven‚Äôt been abroad in quite some time. It was nice to get away and experience a different culture.‚ÄĚ