The adventures I have been having in Italy have been some of the craziest of my life! Through the USF Science in Florence program I have been able to experience things that I couldn’t even imagine in my wildest dreams! As part of the USF Science in Florence program I am taking a course entitled “Physician Observation”. This class involves shadowing physicians of numerous specialties in order to compare the American Healthcare system with the Italian Healthcare system. Because of this program we have been able to learn a lot about Italian healthcare and the vast differences compared o the American Healthcare system. One of the differences that stood out to me the most was that in Italy, all citizens are provided with national healthcare. This is very different than in the US where there has been much recent debate on how citizens should obtain healthcare. This Italian stance on healthcare has reminded me of one of the UN Sustainable Development goals that is reduced inequalities. The UN has stated before that in order to reduce inequality, “policies should be universal in principle paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations” (UN). This is exactly what the Italian Healthcare system has done! It has provided healthcare at little to no cost to every member of the population, regardless of age, gender, race, economic class, etc.
On this trip I was able to have a conversation with an Italian physician who specializes in orthopedics/ sports medicine about the huge disparity in medical payments for procedures such as an MRI. He stated that when he went to the United States to practice medicine for a period of time he was extremely surprised at the cost to the patient of getting an MRI. In the United states an MRI usually averages around $2,000, however in Italy the same procedure usually averages a couple hundred euros! This huge difference between what citizens have to pay was very surprising to me and made me really think about the disparities that medical procedures like this cause in the United States.
This trip has been a great learning experience so far and I have certainly been enjoying observing Italian physicians!