When I heard that there was a course called “Exploring the Healthcare System in Costa Rica,” I knew I had to sign up immediately. As someone who sees themselves working as a physician in Doctors Without Borders, I realized this class would provide me with the opportunity to gain a global perspective on a topic that the US has struggled with for some time and is very important to my future goals- providing quality healthcare to citizens.
This week I’ve had the pleasure to travel Costa Rica’s luscious landscapes with other individuals as invested in the health field as myself. I’ve learned much about the clinical and business aspects that make up a successful healthcare system. During the week, we’ve seen several healthcare facilities and even got to partake in home visits with the local ATAP’s here. From these excursions, I’ve learned that Costa Rica’s healthcare system, the Caja, allows many, if not all, people in need to receive healthcare services.
Additionally, we’ve been able to tour the Costa Rican environment. Throughout the week, we’ve been in the nation’s capital, San Jose, as well as less populated areas, like Las Juntas, and Monteverde. The diversity of these venues has allowed our group to not only see different levels of the healthcare system, but breathtaking rainforests, sunny beaches, and magnificent volcanoes as well. Probably one of the most notable parts from this side of the trip was the Cloud Forest and Zip Lines in Monteverde on Saturday. At the Cloud Forest, our group was able to walk several suspension bridges that overlooked the tops of trees in the area. We also enjoyed hearing from our tourguide, Luis, who taught us about the wildlife living in the rainforest. After that excursion, we tested our bravery on several zip lines. To our pleasure, one of them was over 800m long!
However, on a personal level, I’ve learned more over the course of this week than would have ever been possible to absorb in a classroom setting. As someone who is not very familiar with the policies of healthcare, learning about the Caja in Costa Rica has provided me with a fresh perspective on the importance of having policies that suit a broad range of people. Additionally, I’ve been able to fully immerse myself in Costa Rica’s culture. I’ve been able to step out of the comfort zones of common language, and areas of study I was unfamiliar with prior to this trip. From that stretch of discomfort, I have grown to be more worldly and more knowledgeable about healthcare. Because of this growth, I know I’ll be able to apply what I’ve learned during this week to my profession in the future. When I am able to do that, I know I’ll be able to treat my future patients with proper care they deserve.