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Students and faculty at the All Together Better Health Conference in New Zealand

Four students from the College of Medical and Dental Sciences recently presented at the All Together Better Health IX Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, the leading international conference for Interprofessional Education (IPE) organised by the World Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice Coordinating Committee.

IPE refers to occasions when two or more professions learn together with the object of cultivating collaborative practice. The conference attracted several hundred delegates from around the world and provided an opportunity for participants to discuss ideas and devise and test strategies to mobilise concerted action to improve health and wellbeing for individuals, families and communities across the world.

The four students who attended were Kalyaani Vickneswaran (Medicine and Surgery), currently in her fifth year, Mahisa Arian and Mehmuna Ayub, both in their final year of Dentistry, and Travis Norton, who is a recent Nursing graduate and past winner of the Nursing Times ‘Student of the Year’ award.

The students were accompanied by several faculty members – Dr Sharon Buckley, Senior Lecturer in Medical Education; Dr Christine Hirsch, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy; and Dr Kirsty Hill, Senior Lecturer in Dental Public Health and Behavioural Science – all of whom were extremely impressed with the students’ performance and professionalism.

Three of the students were funded by the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and one by a national travel grant from the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE), one of only three awarded annually.

In their presentations, the students discussed their experience of establishing the Knowledge and Skills Exchange (KASE), a vibrant and growing IPE Society for Birmingham students. Their 60-minute workshop gave participants practical guidance on establishing a student IPE Society such as KASE; and their 20-minute oral presentation discussed experiences and lessons learned from building student leadership of IPE using a team building weekend away and a student-led healthcare team challenge.

Each presentation received excellent feedback from the audience, as well as international expressions of interest. This included interest from a Canadian higher education institution who wish to establish an ongoing collaboration with Birmingham students and faculty, as well as an invitation to write a book chapter on student leadership in interprofessional education.

When asked about the students’ performance, Dr Buckley said: “The students were excellent ambassadors for the University of Birmingham and for the benefits of Interprofessional Education. They role modelled collaborative team working superbly well.”

During the conference, the students also took part in an International Healthcare Team Challenge, an internationally recognised interprofessional learning activity that promotes teamwork and collaboration among current and future healthcare professionals from across the world, with University of Birmingham student Kalyaani Vickneswaran being a member of the winning team, a fantastic achievement that reflects the exceptional ability of our students.