Santa Clara University

Public Health Science

Yvonne Monteverde's blog


Yvonne Monteverde from Copenhagen, Denmark

  •  Why a Doctor?

    Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010


    On Monday, our core course, Human Health and Disease, we were able to draw blood first on dummy arms and then on each other. I thought I would be too nervous to do it, but I found a very superficial vein on my partner and she did not bruise the next day! She actually drew my blood out carefully and I barely felt it. Not the case with some nurses I've been with in the states. I guess there tends to be a progression from being careful to efficient, as with any job. It's relatively simple, apply a tourniquet, prepare the skin with alcohol, yet finding the vein is probably the most difficult part. Once inside, you can pinch the vein ever so slightly to penetrate it and have the blood run through the tube into the vial.


    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many different perspectives it requires becoming a competent health care worker. This may sound naïve but the truth is it requires a lot more than a dedication to hard work and compassion. The classes here at DIS, definitely target health care issues one would not think about. I’ll be the first to admit, I did not read about scarce resources or if a fetus is considered a person. I was more concerned, during EMT shifts anyway, with the practical: how can I fix this? How can I make my patient most comfortable? One must be a very compassionate individual, yet knowledgeable about health economics and politics. I personally loathe learning about them, but in order to know as a doctor how many resources you can realistically allocate in your hospital or with your patients. Not everyone will be pleased or be able to be treated. You must be educated on new implementations, and what to bring up to politicians. If a crisis comes up, politicians will rely on your knowledge as a physician in order to make a reliable implementation. 


    As a doctor you will be faced with ethical dilemmas, and it is here where a good knowledge of ethics is essential. If a parent decides to save one premature healthy twin, while let the other die due to a bad prognosis, what are you to do? What issues in your hospital will you be able to deal with, and which ones cannot be handled due to the budget?


    It's no wonder people ask me if I'm sure I want to become a doctor.


    At the same time, anatomical labs are so much fun! To label things the descending aorta makes for great knowledge! Our medical student assistant took us to the University of Copenhagen’s medical school, Panum Institute, where we saw different body parts and were quizzed on our guesses. 


    The one question that surprised me was: how old is this fetus? Slightly bigger than a kitten, with fingers and hands fully formed. I guessed probably 6 months since it was rather developed. It was actually three months old, and for many countries, that is the time frame when it is decided whether to abort or not. Many people in my class were surprised to find out a fetus had developed so much in so little time, including myself.

    Drawing blood from my partner and friend, Magz.
    Drawing blood from my partner and friend, Magz. "It didn't hurt!" She claimed.
    We were able to keep our own blood vials after practicing. It was a bit nerdy, and creepy. With my friend Jon.
    We were able to keep our own blood vials after practicing. It was a bit nerdy, and creepy. With my friend Jon.
  •  Parliament

    Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010

    In my Health Economics and Policy class, we were able to visit Parliament (after going through security of course) and visit a member of the Danish People’s party. Because it was after hours, we were not able to see parliament in action, but he took us on a tour of where major discussions were held, where President Obama will visit when he comes to Denmark to discuss climate change. Apparently the press also has a room and they may follow you around Parliament, except in your office. What I thought most interesting, were the constant “open” elevators going up and down. You could simply jump in, and that’s exactly what members of parliament did.

    Once inside a meeting room, he discussed with our class how implementation occurred, what his job was, which included talking to people from different interest groups about what issues to prioritize. He spoke to us about how more and more privatization in Denmark is taking place, and he disagreed with it. The system here works as follows: if you are not able to have an operation before a certain time period, you are welcome to go to a private clinic for the operation. The problem, he emphasized, is that private hospitals are reimbursed excessively by the Danish government for these operations. He felt that if there must be private companies, to have them be a separate entity, and not overcharge their fee for service. I asked him what he felt was not being emphasized enough in discussions, and he mentioned prevention of diseases. Although we learned in class that government's most important health priorities include cancer treatment and budget allocation, prevention was just not enough.