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2017 SGPS Global Seminar National University of Ireland

Catherine Coleman-Dickson - August 15, 2017

On Saturday, June 10th, a mixture of SGPS students, Rosemont College traditional undergraduate students, and IBC associates, as well as students from the University of the Sciences came to the global study orientation seminar where they learned the ins and outs of experiential learning, travelling abroad, and the state of the U.S. Healthcare System. The students were given a lecture by Stephen Gambescia1, which prepared them for studying Ireland’s Healthcare System abroad.

On Saturday, July 15th, the students and faculty arrived at the airport for the trip ‘across the pond.’ Arriving  in Shannon early the next morning, Sunday, July 16th, and were whisked away via coach bus to the National University of Ireland (NUI) in Galway. Almost everyone quickly unpacked to begin exploring the city that would be their home for the next nine days.

Starting bright and early Monday morning, July 17th and over the next six out of eight days (through July 24th), the students were academically captivated by the following sessions:

  • A Brief History of Ireland and the History of the Protestant Work Ethic (Dennis Dougherty)
  • Dimensions of Global Culture (Cathie Coleman-Dickson)
  • Healthcare in Ireland – Public and Private Health Insurance (Brendan Kennelly2 – NUI)
  • Healthcare Models Across the Globe and Ethical Dimensions of Healthcare (Dennis Dougherty)

To understand Ireland's culture, the group visited Dan O’Hara’s Heritage Center to learn about ‘the land’ of Ireland and the history of bogs and peat. Visiting Kylemore Abbey on the only wet and dreary day of the global study, students learned about the history of the Abbey from its creation ‘the inspiration and love of a husband toward his wife’ down through the years to the Benedictine community who run the Abbey today. The Galway City Museum provided ‘proof’ of the seminar learnings through rich artifacts and a full-size modern day Galway Hooker, a traditional fishing boat used in Galway Bay that is still being painstakingly constructed today.

Additionally, students were asked to watch memorable movies, “The Quiet Man,” “Michael Collins,” “Bloody Sunday,” “Angela’s Ashes,” “The Commitments,” “The Secret of Roan Inish,” etc. to further understand the Celtic history, Catholic/Protestant Rebellion, and the folklore of Ireland.

The students and faculty were very excited that the International Galway Arts Festival was held during their visit which added art, music, and literature to the week.

Professionally, the students were encouraged to interview U.S. stateside and Ireland healthcare professionals, who provided understanding of the strong opinions of both countries’ populations. In Ireland, it is important to note that most of the interviews were held in pubs where interestingly, many meetings occur.

On their free days, students embarked on trips outside of Galway – most went to Dublin, Connemara, and the Cliffs of Moher which rounded out their personal Irish experience.

There week closed with seven student group presentations exhibiting the experiential learning they experienced in Ireland. All students compiled research papers on the comparison of U.S. and Ireland healthcare systems and graduate students were additionally tasked with compiling business and marketing plans on starting a health-oriented business in Ireland.

Almost a month after our seminar, students still rave about the “best educational trip they could have imagined.”

The following quote sums up the students’ experience this year:

“I think that travel comes from some deep urge to see the world, like the urge that brings up a worm in an Irish bog to see the moon when it is full.” – Lord Dunsany



1Stephen F. Gambescia, PhD, MEd, MBA, MHum, MCHES, is a clinical professor of Health Services Administration at Drexel University. Dr. Gambescia has held a number of educational leadership roles eventually serving as a vice president in a metro and multi-state division for two of the largest national voluntary health agencies (American Cancer Society and American Heart Association). He has more than 30 years of experience in the field of health promotion/disease prevention. 


2 – Brendan Kennelly, M.Econ.Sc. has published articles on welfare economics, public choice, the welfare state and health economics in journals such as Social Choice and Welfare, Public Choice, Social Science and Medicine, and Health Policy, and in several books. Students were shocked to hear that using Ireland’s Public Healthcare System Insurance could have a patient, requiring a hip replacement, might wait three years as opposed to a patient who had Private Healthcare Insurance.