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Lisbon, Prague, Portugal, Czech Republic

Program Description

Are you interested in a career in healthcare, public health, or public policy? Do you wonder why our healthcare system is the way it is and why it’s not more like the universal healthcare systems that you hear about in other countries? Every country in the world takes a different approach to designing and implementing their healthcare systems. What better way to learn about varying perspectives on healthcare than to visit and talk to the people who live and work within them.

This course will take you to Portugal and Czech Republic where we will learn about their healthcare systems and compare and contrast them with the US approach to healthcare. While in each country you will experience the culture that helps shape the healthcare system, meet with healthcare professionals and visit health service originations and clinics, and learn about some of the things that make different healthcare systems unique.

This is a hand-on, discussion based, problem solving focused course where we learn from experiencing and talking with the people who know their healthcare systems best. Your exploration of universal healthcare in two Europe countries will give you a new perspective though which to view the strengths and weaknesses of US healthcare.

Location Description

The hilly seaport of Lisbon has always been a major European political, economic, and cultural center. The capitol city is full of intriguing contrasts; witness tiny shops with fading facades versus mega malls, and narrow, cobble-stoned streets versus wide-open vistas. With a generous attitude towards foreigners, a holiday vibe, and a mild climate, it’s a welcoming place with plenty to explore.

Our home base in Prague is located at Vyšehrad, at the top of one of Prague’s highest hills, within medieval castle walls, in a beautiful park-like setting about 15 minutes from the Old Town area. Cobblestone streets, ancient bridges, and a hilltop castle help lend the City of a Hundred Spires its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful, brimming with architecture from every period and style in its millennial history.

Each of these countries has a universal healthcare system, but that doesn’t mean that they do things the same. They each embrace different types of traditional and alternative medicine, and have varying policies and structures that impact healthcare delivery. In 2000 when the World Health Organization last ranked healthcare systems the Czech Republic ranked #48, Portugal ranked #12, and the US ranked #37. With rich culture and history, combined with modern amenities of large cities, there is so much to explore and learn in these beautiful countries.


Jill Lassiter | lassitjw@jmu.edu | Health Sciences


Accommodations in each country will be shared (double occupancy) hotel rooms that are centrally located in the host cities. They will include free wifi and breakfast. Hotels will be within walking distance of restaurants and popular attractions, or within close proximity to public transportation. Students will be provided with a public transportation pass.

All meals are provided as part of the program. These will include breakfast at the hotel, some group meals, and a meal stipend to cover all lunches and dinners that are not arranged for the group.

Additional Items to Consider

We will meet a few times prior to departure to familiarize ourselves with the basics of the US healthcare system and the World Health Organization criteria for rating healthcare systems. This will give us a common baseline for processing what we experience in Europe. We will spend one week in each country, during which time we will participate in five or six different healthcare experiences per country (e.g. lectures, site visits, experiential learning). These will focus on both a general understanding of healthcare policy and implementation in each country, as well as unique aspects of healthcare that may be less familiar to American students. We will also participate in a variety of cultural experiences in each country.

Students are required to have a passport that is valid for 6-months after the program end date. There are no visas or special immunizations required to visit these countries. Transportation to and from the airport is provided for students arriving with the group. Each student will be required to bring a cell phone with international connectivity, as well as a tablet or laptop to complete academic work.

We will be partnering with CIEE, the country’s largest and oldest nonprofit study abroad and cultural exchange organization. CIEE will help to coordinate our in-country experiences, provide translation services, arrange housing and in-country transportation, and provide emergency support.

Tentative Itinerary Highlights, May 16- May 30:

  • Lisbon: City tour, and visits to Commission for Drug Dissuasion, UMAR: Womens' Public Health, GAT, and Tile Museum & Workshop, plus a dance workshop.
  • Prague: Neighborhood, City, Prague Castle, and public and private hospital tours, day trip to Kutna Hora, Healthcare in Czech Republic Workshop led by local healthcare providers.

COVID-19 Location Information:

Each country has different requirements upon entry with regard to COVID-19. Please check this website for the most up-to-date information on what is required for the country (or countries) that are part of this program. Please note that this changes often, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0.

No language requirement.

Open to all undergraduate class levels.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 


Program Closed

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


HTH 391: Global Healthcare (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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