Nov 24, 2014

St. Louis, Madrid Students Debate Health Care

Written by:
Katie Gauthier Donnelly

Students in St. Louis debate with students in Madrid via Fuze Nov. 19, as part of International Education Week. Submitted photo

The SLU Association for International Debate (SAID), the SLU Center Interprofessional Education and Research (CIER) and SLU Madrid hosted an international debate on health care as part of International Education Week on Nov. 19.

The topic of debate was "The benefits of single-payer government based health insurance are greater than those of the private-payer employer based insurance." Students from the Interprofessional Education and Research 350 course in both St. Louis and Madrid, which focuses on health care systems and health promotion from an interprofessional perspective, linked up with the SLU Association for International Debate to prepare for the debate, which was held over Fuze.

SAID hosts regular debates and discussions in an effort to promote dialogue about topics of global significance. The debaters come from a variety of majors and no former debate experience was required.

This health care debate was particularly exciting because it was integrated into the IPE curriculum. One of the goals of the SLU IPE programs is to prepare health professions graduates for interprofessional, patient-centered collaborative practice. This includes understanding the health care system, reimbursement and health promotion and the impact these have on access and health outcomes.

"This debate was an outstanding opportunity for our students to engage globally in a spirited discussion of an important, yet controversial, issue," said Anthony Breitbach, Ph.D., associate professor of athletic training and a faculty member for the IPE 350 course. Breitbach helped coordinate the activity.

The four debate teams included four students from the IPE program, two who were located in Madrid and four from SAID. Student debaters were, Eric Behna, a graduate political science student; Connor Williams, a freshman psychology student; John Giebfried, a graduate history student; Max Alander, a junior athletic training student; Emily Schwendeman, a sophomore nursing student; Megan Ludwig, a junior physical therapy student; Hannah Zygmunt, a sophomore nursing student; and Ajinkya Kokate, a sophomore biology student.

The first government team of Behna and Williams were declared the official winners with honorable mention for excellent speeches given to IPE 350 students Schwendeman and Ludwig.

Faculty members Irma Ruebling, assistant professor of interprofessional education, and Judy Carlson, Ed.D., associate professor of nursing, and Elivra Pértega Andía, Ph.D., professor of nursing at SLU Madrid served as judges for the live event.

For more information about the Center Interprofessional Education and Research, visit To learn more about SAID and debate at SLU, visit Center for Global Citizenship website.

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