Can a Pre-Med Student Really Go Abroad? 

McKenna Tierney is a Public Health major at Johns Hopkins University and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at the University of Sydney, Australia. She represents IFSA-Butler on her home campus through our Global Ambassador Program.

When the words study abroad come up, most pre-med students shiver and think that could never happen for them, with so many course requirements and activities to be able to put on the resume. But I am here to completely bust that myth.

I am currently a senior, finished with my pre-med requirements and I spent the fall of my junior year in Sydney, Australia.

As a freshman in college all I could think about was being able to travel the world, but I was warned by some upperclassmen that it could ruin my chances of getting into medical school. However I took the opportunity to go to Australia as a way to strengthen my resume and my medical school application.

The United States’ healthcare system is vastly different from most other countries in the world, and being abroad showed me how observing their system can broaden my view of healthcare. I chose classes at the University of Sydney that I thought could help fully immerse myself in the culture. I took a course in Electronic Health and Health Determinants and Intervention. This gave me insight into the health of the population of Australia, and how the health care system works.

The United States’ healthcare system is vastly different from most other countries in the world, and being abroad showed me how observing their system can broaden my view of healthcare.

Unlike the United States, Australia has one of the most affordable, accessible and comprehensive health care systems in the world.  The current government in Australia is attempting to change the healthcare system to be more like the United States’ healthcare system, with much opposition. People seem very happy with their current system and do not like the way the United States runs our system.

For those who want it, Australia offers a national healthcare system with the ability to opt out for private care. The national healthcare system offers an abundance of services with little out of pocket cost, if any cost at all. Whereas many people in the United States cannot afford healthcare or struggle to do so, Australia ensures that it is affordable and accessible for everyone, without having to deal with private insurers.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 11.39.27 AM

Surgeries, doctor’s visits and the monthly cost of healthcare can be extremely expensive in the United States, especially for those with chronic diseases. Australia makes this a much easier path for people, ensuring them care despite costs. The government takes control of most healthcare in Australia, whereas the United States has a free market for the health care.

However, Australia is still behind on the electronics in medicine. They are still trying to implement electronic health records into the system, whereas the United States is much further into the development of technologies and systems to facilitate healthcare systems.

There is a lot that differs between the two systems, and I got to experience and learn about both ways. The immersion in classes with Australians was extremely useful to give me insight into the way they live, and likewise they could learn from my experiences.

I could never have experienced such a different health system environment from a textbook or even from someone else’s story. Living in the country, going to the doctor, and speaking with locals, it was enlightening to see how other countries run their healthcare.

There is nothing else that could have given me what I learned from being abroad in Australia.  Despite what everyone had told me…

Pre-meds can go abroad.

Explore Programs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *