Carolina Vogel

Hometown: Fishers, Indiana

College: Science

Major: Biology (Health & Disease)

I am a Biology major with minors in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies. I plan to become an Obstetrician/Gynecologist, and this study abroad program – Health and Equality in the UK and Ireland – combines the disciplines I study in an innovative way. Over six weeks, the program will examine health care systems and disparities in England, Ireland, and Scotland. We will be studying actual healthcare practices as well as the political context of this care and how it relates to equality of treatment for women and men, straight or queer individuals, and even transgender patients. By examining social inequalities through the lens of healthcare, the program provides a unique opportunity for students like myself who plan on pursuing a future in medicine.

Both my WGSS and LGBT minors have influenced my views on medical care for women. Often queer or transgender health is considered taboo and isn’t something we talk about, especially in a scientific setting. For many in the U.S., a lot of anxiety still exists around being “politically correct” or appearing ignorant of LGBT issues. The only solution to a fear of being ignorant is to learn as much as possible. This is why I chose to immerse myself in the WGSS and LGBT programs, so that I could become a more knowledgeable ally.

As a future OB/GYN, I want my patients to be open with me about their sexual health so that I am able to treat them in the best manner possible. I want to be a physician to whom patients can talk honestly about their sexual health. I may encounter patients with a wide breadth of sexual identities and practices, and understanding how access to health care is influenced by different policies and by culture will enable me to treat my patients in the best and most understanding manner possible.

Shortly before leaving to study abroad, I will begin applying to medical schools. This timing will enable me to discuss these issues in my interviews. Having the opportunity to learn about other countries’ healthcare systems, inequalities, health disparities, and methods of care will help me be more in tune with my future patients’ needs and enable me to be a better, more open-minded, empathetic, and compassionate physician.

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