Graduate and undergraduate students from Central Michigan University and Indiana University joined the Swedish HealthCare Academy team in Stockholm to learn the intricacies of the Swedish healthcare system first hand.
The aim of the study tour was to explore the system of Swedish healthcare in a holistic perspective. This approach promotes engagement across disciplines, which is a strength of this program, given that the students participating in this course come from a broad range of educational and professional backgrounds. This provides students with an integrated understanding of the Swedish healthcare system in theory and practice against which they can contrast other health systems, including the one they are most familiar with: the American system.
The week kicked off with lectures covering the establishment of the Swedish healthcare system in a historical context and current perspectives on governance and financing. During several study visits, students could see first-hand the range of available healthcare services and learn from those involved in care provision. Tour sites included a primary healthcare center in Stockholm, the Karolinska Hospital—an academic hospital providing the country’s most highly specialized care, and a long-term care facility for the elderly.
At Stockholm Regional office, the group learned about the provision and funding of health services at the regional and national level and had a question and answer session with a policy advisor. Observations and lessons from the week were contextualized in a lecture covering healthcare system performance: comparing the Swedish system to the rest of Europe and highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the Swedish model.
Students felt that their experience in Stockholm enriched their understanding of both the Swedish healthcare system and the complexities of health systems more generally. Many students appreciated the opportunity to engage with the professionals on the front lines of health systems policy and provision in the Swedish context. Students also felt they gained an understanding of the Swedish culture and lifestyle, which is in many ways intimately integrated with the larger health system.