At Seacouver, I had the honor of hearing people's healthcare stories, learning from prominent health systems experts and working one-on-one with a physician in the Canadian healthcare system. The experiences I had that summer have given me interesting stories to share on interviews and deepened my interest in healthcare reform. I will never forget my wonderful Seacouver experience.

~Erica Brode
2009 participant


SeaCouver had the amazing combination of bonding with other colleagues while learning about healthcare in a way you never could inside a classroom. You will truly not regret this experience!!

~Sara Park
2010 participant


This unique opportunity allowed me to establish a well-informed opinion on how to achieve health care reform and provided me with a strong foundation from which I can face the many challenges current medical students will have a responsibility to resolve.

~Sarah Flohr
2010 participant


The AMSA SeaCouver Tour is easily one of the best experiences of my undergraduate career and the highlight of my entire AMSA experience. Nowhere else will you get to directly compare the American health care system to the Canadian health care system; comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each. Now, more than ever, this is extremely crucial as the United States moves cautiously forward to health care reform.

~Anthony Radice
2010 participant

SeaCouver Study Tour

Seattle, WA/ Vancouver, BC

2014 Program Pending Sponsorship. Please check back momentarily for updates. If you are interesting in sponsoring this event, please contact

SeaCouver is a five day program taking place in both Seattle and Vancouver. This study tour aims to educate students on the intricacies of the US and Canadian healthcare systems going beyond basic facts to delve into the core of the systems and their impact on patients, families, and communities. Participants travel to some of the premiere medical institutions in both countries including the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia hearing fom experts in the field and discussing policy. Participants will also visit hospitals and clinics to witness healthcare firsthand and will later dine with the local physicians and medical students to informally discuss their opinions on healthcare. Perhaps the most memorable aspect of Seacouver is the opportunity to interview pedestrians on the street in both Vancouver and Seattle to hear firsthand how their lives have been affected by illness and the healthcare system, and also their perceptions of the two systems.

Participants in the past have found a wide variety of perspectives during these interviews, as well as an interesting combination of misinformation interspersed with facts. In the end, participants have come away with an understanding that both healthcare systems have problems, some of which are inherent to the system, and others of which are related to circumstance. One thing remained clear, however: the Canadian system guarantees equitable access to healthcare, and the American system does not.

All healthcare systems involve making tradeoffs, but AMSA believes that regardless of tradeoffs, any desirable healthcare system must have at its base a guarantee of comprehensive, affordable healthcare for all.

SeaCouver goals include:

  • To develop an understanding of the similarities and differences between the US and Canadian healthcare systems and to appreciate the misconceptions about each system.
  • Learn the basics of advocacy in order to become leaders in your community and beyond.
  • Connect on a personal level from those who have been affected by the healthcare system firsthand via on the street video interviews.

Program Fees

Tuition Fees: $500

Tuition includes 4 nights of hotel accommodations (4 same-gender persons to a room), ground transportation as well as breakfast and dinner for each day. Program fees will also be used to offset the cost of developing the educational program, including resource materials, video recording of teaching encounters, and administrative support. Please be aware that AMSA has worked hard to provide participants with a unique, enjoyable, and educational experience while keeping costs at a minimum. Participants will be responsible for all other expenses including airfare, airport transfers to the hotel and lunches. Participants are encouraged to speak with their Deans and/or consult with their Student Affairs Offices and local AMSA Chapters for possible funding.

Note: Participants must have valid passports in order to travel from Seattle to Vancouver.


Wednesday (Seattle)

  • Afternoon: Arrival in Seattle, airport runs to hotel
  • Evening: Dinner/free time

Thursday (Seattle)

  • Morning: Speakers at the University of Washington
  • Afternoon: Lunch and Pike Place Market for on-the-street interviews of people’s thoughts on the US healthcare system
  • Evening: Travel to Vancouver by train/bus

Friday (Vancouver)

  • Morning: Three Bridges Community Health Centre tour and visit
  • Afternoon: Lunch and interviews at Granville Market.
  • Evening: Dinner and health policy discussion with University of British Columbia medical students. Night out on the town.

Saturday (Vancouver)

  • Morning: Tour of downtown community health clinic and surrounding areas by University of British Columbia medical students
  • Afternoon: Lunch and check out the local sites. Travel to Seattle by train/bus
  • Evening: Dinner in Seattle/check out the local sites

Sunday (Seattle)

  • Morning: Speakers
  • Afternoon: Airport runs back home.

Canadian Healthcare System Information

  • AMSA's International Healthcare Systems 
  • AMSA Fact Sheet on the Canadian Healthcare System
  • AMSA's Canadian Waiting Times Primer
  • Online links
  • Further reading:
    • Deber R. "Health Care Reform: Lessons from Canada." 2003 Am J Pub Health Jan; 93(1):20-4.
      [A superbly written overview of the Canadian healthcare system and the current challenges it is facing].
    • Bodenheimer T and Grumbach K. "Healthcare in Four Nations." Understanding Health Policy: A Clinical Approach, 3rd edition. McGraw-Hill, New York: 163-166, 2002.
      [An excellent health policy textbook gives an overview of Canada's healthcare system].
    • Woolhandler S, Campbell T, Himmelstein D. "Costs of Health Care Administration in the United State and Canada." 2003 NEJM 349(8): 768-765.
      [The famous paper on administrative costs in Canada and the United States].
    • Anderson G et al. "Health Spending and Outcomes: Trends in OECD Countries, 1960-1998." Health Affairs (Millwood). 2000 May-Jun; 19(3): 150-7. Available free online at
      [An overview of healthcare spending in different countries, with an emphasis on the United States]
    • Iglehart J. "Revisiting the Canadian Health Care System." N Engl J Med. 2000 Jun 29;342(26):2007-12.
      [A brief history of the Canadian system, along with a discussion of some of the challenges it faces]
    • Blendon R et al. "Physicians' Perspectives on Caring for Patients in the United States, Canada, and West Germany. 1993 NEJM 328(14):1001-6.
      [A cross-national survey of physician perspectives on their countries' systems. U.S. physicians in this survey were less satisfied with the U.S. healthcare system than their counterparts in other countries].
    • McIntosh T and Fafard P. "Conference Report: The Taming of the Queu IV: New Frontiers of Wait Time Measurement, Monitoring, and Management". Ottawa: May 2007.

For More Information

Seattle, Washington

Vancouver, British Columbia

SeaCouver 2009 Lecture Materials

AMSA Academy

AMSA AcademyAMSA Academy, established by and for students, is a training ground for physician leaders, empowering medical students to effect change in medicine.