Global Health alumna Giovana highlights value of exchange
Name: Giovana Liberato de Castro
Degree: Exchange studies, Master's in Global Health
Graduation year: 2015
Tell us your story!
I’m from São Paulo, Brazil. Those who know me would describe me as the family trailblazer. I have always felt a calling for healthcare and close contact with people, so I was motivated to study hard to score high enough on the medical school entrance exam. The medical school programme in Brazil is six years and exchange opportunities are very rare and extremely difficult to attain. So, when an opportunity appeared, I was quick to jump.
Via the medical studies exchange program IFMSA, I hosted a Swedish medical student from KI, who introduced me to Sweden and KI. A year later, an exchange opportunity arose through Science without Borders and I immediately thought of KI as a possibility. The KI digital ambassadors were a major information resource and helped me decide KI was the right place for me. The global health programme was the best fit for my goals and therefore, my first choice.
My experience from KI really changed my view of medicine. I developed a broader view of the world and had a diverse exposure from my international classmates which helped me see medical care in a social context. The program opened my eyes to the importance of qualitative research and patient interviews in complement to hard statistical data.
I have finished my residency in Family and Community Medicine and have been working both in the public and private health systems. Due to my experience at the Global Health programme at KI, I’m very interested in public health and have focused on learning the complexities of healthcare administration.
In my current role, as compared with the hospital rotations, I really enjoy seeing patients over a longer period of time to follow up and build a relationship. My time at KI has definitely nurtured my interest in the importance of communication and empathy, as well as the important issues of equal access to healthcare. I even returned to Sweden in October 2019 for a one month internship in primary care at Sophiahemmet (in central Stockholm), which was an amazing experience.
The framework of the exchange partnership didn’t allow me to finish the whole Global Health Master’s program, so I’m looking for opportunities to do that. I have even started taking Swedish at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo. Working with the public healthcare system in Brazil has really touched my heart. While much progress has been made over the past 20 years, I want to be a part of making it better for the future. In the future, I can see myself working at the interface between healthcare and policy, with the UN or another organization.
I think of my time in Greece and then in Sweden as the start of me thinking bigger. My time at KI changed my life personally and professionally, and broke previous down stereotypes and narrowmindedness. Together with fellow Brazilian KI alumni, Gustavo and Mateo, we helped launch the Sweden Alumni Network in Brazil in 2018. This network is helping us consolidate, share and disseminate details about our exchanges to Sweden. We hold pre-departure events for admitted students and other events with a focus on hot health care topics.
What is your advice to students
Use all the available resources including the library, professors, and learn Swedish. To prospective students, I can emphasize the true value of the global health program at KI. It opened my mind and gave me a new perspective - it provided a context to compare the different socioeconomic levels around the world.