WASHINGTON, PA (April 26, 2016) — When Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) sophomore Abigail Pipcho decided to travel to Ireland for her Magellan Project, she was understandably nervous to take on an adventure by herself overseas. But those nerves were soon overcome by a growing independence that stemmed from her experience navigating the country to study Ireland’s health care system.
Pipcho, from Clarks Summit, Pa., had visited Ireland previously and knew that she wanted to return one day; she also knew W&J’s Magellan Project was the perfect opportunity.
The psychology and Spanish double major spent a total of four weeks in Dublin, Cork, Dingle, Doolin, Derry, and Belfast studying the Irish health care system and drawing comparisons to that of the United States.
“The Magellan Project in its entirety was two steps out of my comfort zone. Prior to the trip, I was hesitant in certain times and after traveling an entire country in a month, I learned how to get along in many situations. I mainly learned that I can depend on myself in any type of circumstance,” she said.
Pipcho said she learned that Ireland’s health care system is currently in a period of transition. The government’s goal is to have free public healthcare available to all of its citizens by the year 2020. As of 2015, free, readily available care is available to children younger than age 6 and adults older than age 70. Those who fall outside of that age range can either purchase private health insurance, or use the public system that is in place. However, she said, this means that wealthier citizens can afford private insurance and therefore receive the medical attention they need more quickly, while those who cannot afford private insurance must work their way through the public system, which has a limited number of doctors and a lengthier treatment schedule.
However, Pipcho said she was impressed that during this transition, feedback from citizens and doctors is frequently part of the process.
After graduating from W&J, Pipcho plans to attend school to become a physician’s assistant. She said her experiences during her Magellan Project gave her a stronger knowledge of health services and the health care field, and how they differ around the world.
“Academically, the Magellan Project taught me so much more about the world of health care. In my time, I shadowed several doctors in different types of hospitals,” said Pipcho. “I also got to speak with some patients on their specific health care situations. I learned so much about their healthcare system and the challenges that it is currently facing. Personally, the Magellan Project made me a more confident and well-rounded person.”
Although Pipcho set out to learn more about health care, she took advantage of her Magellan to travel and explore Ireland, which is her best memory from her trip.
“My favorite part of my Magellan was that while I was abroad, I was also able to engage in other activities apart from my studies,” said Pipcho. “I was able to spend a lot of time hiking through the Gap of Dunloe and The Cliffs of Moher.”
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.
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