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Clincial Consulting: Thinking Globally – Reflections from Iceland

| Debbie Gregory

I recently had the opportunity to visit Iceland with my Graduate Nursing Program as part of a Global Healthcare class. With my head down working on healthcare design projects across the country, it is easy to get tunnel vision and forget about the bigger picture. But I was reminded when I found this: according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, there are seven revolutions that will shape our world from 2025 and beyond. These are so relevant and top of mind today. Consider these seven revolutions:

  • Population
  • Strategic resource management
  • Technology innovation and diffusion
  • Information and knowledge creation and dissemination
  • Economic Integration
  • Conflict
  • Governance

Within the healthcare landscape and our nation’s landscape, we are truly experiencing each of these issues in very diverse and extreme ways. Think about each of these in relation to your world view — isn’t it staggering how our world is changing at warp speed?

Travel is always a way to expand our boundaries. Global thinking can magnify our differences as well as unite us with our similarities. Here are some of my reflections with a new global perspective.

Healthcare

The US healthcare system IS broken, but the complexity and diversity of our nation cannot be solved overnight. We in the US are doing many things right but we can look globally at solutions that can be integrated into our system. We toured Reykjalundur Rehab Facility and learned about Solheimar, a sustainable community that embraces and cares for those with disabilities. Check out these unique healthcare facilities.

Renewable Energy

We were able to tour the geothermal plant. Iceland harnesses its natural resources using the volcano’s for heat and the glaciers for water. This national planning benefits everyone with unlimited heat and water resources. I was proud to get a news feed while at the geothermal plant of the work that was done at the Nashville Airport. I actually showed the article to the geologist and he was even impressed.

Diversity

Diversity is part of our heritage in the US. While many may resist being open to diversity — creating a land where there is freedom in diversity is a gift. Iceland has a heritage with very minimal diversity, while here in America we expand the globe in our schools and neighborhoods every day. While one culture is not right or wrong, the culture is just different. Iceland has a strong sense of homogenous Icelandic culture, history, and national identity. Tourism is bringing more diversity to Iceland and it is bringing challenges to their culture and identity.

Globalization and Health

The World Health Organization refers to Global Health Diplomacy as bringing together the disciplines of public health, international affairs, management, law and economics, and focuses on negotiations that shape and manage global health policy. As health leaders take more responsibility for global health, we must take a proactive approach to understanding these global issues and build capacity to mitigate risk and take advantage of opportunities. With the recent Ebola and Zika viruses knocking on the US’s door, we must become active global citizens.

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