Studying Health Care in the U.K.

A Theory-to-Practice experience enlightens researcher

Christina Trusty ’12 spent spring break 2012 in the U.K. studying about their National Health Care System. (Photo by Christina Trusty ’12)

Christina Trusty ’12 is someone who likes challenges. Among our most recent OWU graduates Trusty, who majored in microbiology, has long been interested in public health. A directed reading assignment Trusty was given last fall about France’s public health care system motivated her to develop a Theory-to-Practice research proposal focused on “Comparative Health Care Study: Analysis of National Public Health between Great Britain and the United States.” Trusty’s proposal was approved, and she spent spring break 2012 conducting research in the United Kingdom.

“I was able to witness first hand, the health care system of another first world country,” says Trusty, noting the very visible differences between the approaches to health care in the U.S. and those of the U.K.

“Their system includes health care for all citizens—prescriptions, and maternity/paternity leave,” she explains, adding that one of the downsides is having to wait a little longer to see a specialist if needed. During Trusty’s visit, the British government officials were drafting a reform health care bill that had many people on edge.

“People there are protective of their national health care system (NHS) and they don’t want it to be privatized,” says Trusty. “Their NHS is a huge source of pride.” During her visit in the U.K., Trusty met with a scientist who edits the chief medical officer’s annual State of the Public’s Health Report. This report focuses on current and future projections of the country’s health situation and suggestions for dealing with such issues as infection, childcare, infectious diseases, and drug resistance. Trusty also met with officials in the Department of Health and the National Health Care System.

Vanessa Bough works in the National Institute of Health Protection Unit which is under the Ministry of Health,” explains Trusty. Bough’s office handles issues related to infectious disease, pollution, bioterrorism, and surveillance. Her job is to monitor and control the spread of infectious disease, so doctors in her region are required to call her office to report symptoms of various illnesses. Bough reports diseases to the national government.

“My meeting with Ms. Bough was productive and gave me a broad background into the world of health regulation and surveillance there,” says Trusty. Unplanned during her visit to Westminster Abbey and Parliament was an encounter with several women who were protesting the health care reform bill passing through Parliament. Trusty listened to their viewpoints and their opposition to any possibility of taking away valuable [health care] benefits from citizens.

“These people had no idea about problems we have with our health care system in the U.S.,”says Trusty. “The mindsets in our countries ares different. In the United States, illness is determined by need. In Great Britain, need [for care] is defined by a person’s ability to benefit.” There’s no question that Trusty benefitted greatly from her Theory-to-Practice research in England. It confirmed for her an interest in public health policy making that she plans to carry over to graduate school in the coming year.

“There is not enough that can be said about the power of travel in education,” says Trusty. “It creates a feeling of self-reliance and a world view that influence all future thoughts and interactions—both educational and social. Travel in my future involving public health, will be a necessary component of my job. This trip has allowed me to experience what I one day will be doing as a professional—studying, comparing, and influencing public health policies at a global level.”

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