I am used to STEM coursework at a large research university: two hundred people lecture halls, structured office hours, and distant interactions with professors.
My experience studying Human Health and Disease with DIS has pushed me to explore a new learning environment. My class is only fifteen students, and we interact directly with our instructors through simulations, discussions, and technical skills daily. My class has also frequently engaged with hands-on learning, from going to local hospitals to practicing physical examinations. Some of my classmates even placed IV lines in each other.
As someone who wants to be a part of the medical field one day, it has been helpful to be a part of the class and learn about the technical aspects of medicine that many American students would only see in medical school. From interpreting EKGs to writing patient charts, I feel like my understanding of the field and the day-to-day life of a doctor has increased.
In addition, learning from medical doctors, including a general practitioner, orthopedic surgeon, cardiologist, and medical student, has been a great way to ask questions and learn more about the field. All of the instructors have brought their passion for health into the classroom, drawing on their own experience and sharing case studies. Learning from Danish medical professionals has also taught me more about the healthcare system in Denmark, encouraging me to think about healthcare systems more critically.
The instructors also fostered a collaborative and welcoming classroom environment, which created strong relationships between the students. In fact, the most transformative aspect of my class was the interactions I had with my peers. From studying together at the Living Room Café to going to Frederiksborg Castle on an unofficial class field trip, we became close friends and support networks for one another. They encouraged me to ask questions and explore the content more deeply. Yet, they also pushed me to have fun and try new things outside of class. Once you have examined each others bare feet, there really are no reasons to be nervous around each other. At this point, I would let any of them poke me with a needle.
As I enter the last week of my class, I am grateful to have been a part of such a unique classroom experience. I am only beginning to digest the way this class will shape my future career and personal life.
With that in mind, here are my three takeaways from Human Health and Disease:
- The blood is fake (probably). At first, the hands-on aspect of the class was intimidating to me, especially using needles. When I walked into the IV clinical skills room with my group, there were huge red puddles of “blood” by dummy arms. My stomach dropped, but it was (mostly) fake. There was only a small patch of real human blood from someone attempting on another student, and the IV simulation was surprisingly calm and fun. Afterwards, I felt accomplished and encouraged to keep trying (though definitely not on people yet). The blood is fake (probably) and most of the things are not as frightening as they initially seem.
- Questions are always a good idea. Whether you are examining a mock patient or trying to make a new friend, questions are your best buddy. Open, closed, rhetorical. You name it. Speaking up in class is nerve wracking, especially when you are not used to doing this at your home university. Yet, I have learned the most by speaking up in class. It is also a great way to get to know your classmates and instructors better. Raise your hand! 🙂
- Coffee shops = G.O.A.T. Need a place to study with your classmates? Coffee shop. Want to rejuvenate before class? Coffee shop. Want to experience a key part of Copenhagen? Coffee shop. Need a place to hang out with a potential new friend but don’t want to seem awkward? Coffee shop. Want to finish your three page patient chart but don’t have the motivation? Coffee shop. Writing a blog post ;)? Coffee shop.