Former AAHA president leading others in quest to gain global health care perspective

During his time as AAHA president, Michael Paul, DVM, was dedicated to advancing veterinary medicine and promoting higher standards of care. Now his dedication has led him to explore health care on a global scale.

Paul is a delegate leader for the non-profit organization People to People, which he says originated as a vision of President Dwight D. Eisenhower to foster global understanding. People to People sends delegates from diverse professional backgrounds around the world to exchange knowledge with their overseas counterparts. Through the program, more than 60,000 delegates have visited six continents, Paul said.

In his time with the organization, Paul has led delegations to China, Brazil, Jordan, Israel, and Cuba, and he will be heading to Australia and New Zealand in August 2014.

Paul took the time to tell NEWStat more about his upcoming trip and discuss the perspective-altering experiences that delegates can expect during their travels.

Exchanging health care knowledge with Australia and New Zealand

During the trip to Australia and New Zealand, travelers will be exposed to networking opportunities and in-depth discussions, as well as the local cultural attractions. 

According to the itinerary, delegates will be focused on the following questions during their interactions with health care professionals from Australia and New Zealand:

  • Is universal health care available to all people in both Australia and New Zealand?
  • Is private health insurance generally available in Australia and New Zealand?
  • Is quality health care available to the poor as well as to the rich?
  • How is medical care delivered?
  • Are there health concerns that are unique to the local populations in Australia and New Zealand?
  • What is the single greatest threat to health in both Australia and New Zealand?
  • Are physicians trained locally?
  • How can we strengthen relations between the people of our countries?

Attempting to answer questions such as these is what produces a truly beneficial exchange of health care knowledge, Paul said. He explained how these thought-provoking interactions with prior delegations have expanded the awareness of everyone involved.

"I have traveled with physicians, nurses, psychologists, dentists, and nutritionists, and of course veterinarians. Not only have we learned about health care, we have met and talked with health care professionals in other countries as well," Paul said. "This perspective has given us the opportunity not only to learn but to share our medical system as well. Perhaps just as importantly, since many of these other professionals have had limited interaction with veterinarians, it has given me an opportunity to help them appreciate the depth of our training."

Paul said that although not all of his past delegations have included other veterinary professionals, he still takes the time to promote the value of AAHA membership when the opportunity arises.

"Most veterinarians are familiar with AAHA but many attendees know little if anything about AAHA members and why we are different ... our commitment to excellence in care. I have always been extremely proud of my role in AAHA and these trips offer me a great platform to talk about pets, people, and AAHA," Paul said.

Coming home with a broader cultural perspective

Paul said his travels with People to People provide the opportunity to experience travel and see cultural and historical places that most Americans only read about. But in addition to the sightseeing, Paul said he has gained a much deeper understanding of other people and cultures. 

"Whether I am traveling for business, personal enjoyment, or cultural exchanges, whether in other First World countries or emerging countries, it is very clear that we are all far more alike than we are different," he said. "Laughter, sharing stories, dining together ... all do much to remove barriers between people and hence societies. I have also found that regardless of religion or political ideology, we all leave with a greater respect for others."

More information about the upcoming delegation

According to Paul, the deadline to attend the Australia/New Zealand trip is coming up soon. So far, it is small delegation of about 10 people, which means they can easily make room for a few more, he said. The cost to attend is $5,999 per person.

Visit the People to People website for more details about the Australia/New Zealand delegation, or to learn more about the organization.