Becca Fullerton Explains Her Unique Trip to Uruguay

by   |  12.10.10  |  Honors College News

This trip, for Becca, would not have been possible without an Honors College travel grant.

Her story:

On June 1, 2010 thirteen pre-health students and three teachers landed in Montevideo, Uruguay to begin a five-week study of the Uruguayan Healthcare System.

“We spent two weeks in Abilene before we left studying health care systems from around the developed world, along with examining the new health care bill in the US,” said Junior Biochemistry major Becca Fullerton. “That time enabled us to fit the Uruguayan system into a larger global context and use that information to think critically about what the US might need to do moving forward.”

Along with the standard Spanish and Latin American studies classes, the students visited health care facilities around the capital city. They toured the country’s only medical school-the Facultad Medecina, the medical school’s large public hospital, the private British Hospital, a center for teen mothers, and several small outlying clinics supporting the towns surrounding Montevideo.

“Visiting the hospitals was one of the most eye-opening experiences of the trip for me,” Becca said. “The public hospital had lines twenty people long just to get on the elevator and was obviously lacking in resources, while the private hospital wouldn’t have been out of place next to Medical City. But I was moved by the concern with which the administrator of the public hospital spoke about his hospital and the people of his country.”

They were also able to experience many parts of the Uruguayan culture: taking cabs everywhere, eating dinner after nine, and watching futbol. “We were all really excited about futbol because the world cup was going on while we were there,” said Becca. “When Uruguay made it to the semi finals after a shoot out against Ghana, there were literal riots in the streets. Everyone was screaming and honking and waving flags and partying in the Plaza Independencia.”

During their travel weeks, they toured Montevideo and the surrounding countries visiting Buenos Aires, Igauzu Falls in Brazil, Punta del Este where they attended an ICMDA conference with hundreds of medical students from around the world.

“This experience challenged and taught me in ways I wouldn’t have encountered at home,” said Becca. “The disparity between their public and private hospitals led me to reflect more carefully about the inequity that takes place in our hospitals, while the difficulty I faced communicating when I’d never taken a Spanish class gave me a new grace for people who come to this country not knowing English. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to study in South America.”