News Photo
MPA students Leah Berbano, Erin Gabriel, Ngoc Tran, Tracy Bainter and Laure Fredenburg inside the Kremlin.

MPA class gains first-hand knowledge of health care

Nearly 50 Drake graduate students, faculty and alumni got a
first-hand look at the state of health care around the world during one of
professor Kenneth Meyer’s public administration courses this spring.

The semester-long graduate course, Comparative Management
and Policy Analysis in a Global Context, took the class to Europe to observe
public health programs in action.

“Of the 2,500 public administration programs in the
United States, Drake’s is the only one that has both a domestic and
international study,” said Meyer, who has taught the course for almost 10

The course, which focuses on public health as it relates to
children, family values and social justice in the U.S. and six European
countries, began with a series of guest lecturers. These experts covered topics
including government regulation of health care, patients’ rights and the future
of health care in the United States.

Gaining First Hand Experience

In March, the class toured Europe, in Russia, Poland, the
Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Italy.

In St. Petersburg, the class visited a state-run clinic and
attended a roundtable discussion with professors from the Academy of
Postgraduate Studies in Family Medicine. Many of the students were shocked to
learn that issues such as child abuse and alcoholism are still considered to be
private family matters in the former Soviet Union. Students also were surprised
to know that the average life expectancy of Russian men is 59 years and the
country has high numbers of AIDS and HIV cases.

“It really made me appreciate the type of health care
we have in the U.S., even though it’s not perfect!” said Laure Fredenburg,
an MPA student who works for the Des Moines Symphony.

At Charles University, one of the oldest medical colleges in
the world, Ales Linhart presented an explanation of the Czech Republic’s
national health insurance program.

Later in Munich, the class learned about innovative
approaches of the city’s Department of Health and Environment, including
research on how noise pollution affects overall health.

Finally, SOS Kinderdof International, an Austrian-based
organization that provides care for destitute, abandoned and orphaned children,
hosted the group for a morning brunch and discussion about its multinational

News Photo
Professsors Ken Meyer, Garry Frank and Lance Noe outside the Prague Castle.

“When we were in Prague, I was amazed to learn that the
average citizen goes to his or her doctor every two days,” said Erin
Gabriel, an MPA student and assistant director of admission at Drake. “The
system covers everything so it just became routine for people to stop by their
doctor’s office!

“Especially, with universal healthcare being such a hot
political topic right now in the current election year, I thought it was great
to see how other countries deal with health care.”

Students found time for sightseeing

In between programs, the class also found time to tour
ancient cities and other tourist attractions.

They visited Red Square, the Kremlin and Hermitage Museum in
Russia. In Poland, they explored the Auschwitz-Berkenau concentration camps,
where they discussed the role public administrators played in the Holocaust.

In Germany, they visited a Bavarian castle and a medieval
walled city. The group also saw Michelangelo’s David and the Domo in Florence
and took a side trip to see the Mediterranean. The trip concluded with a visit
to Rome for Easter weekend.

Each year Meyer offers the course with themes related to
government sustainability, management, and technology. In 2005, the theme of
the course was “Green Urbanism” and was the recipient of the Silver
Award for Environmental Best Practice from the Green Foundation, presented in
the British House of Parliament.