Healthcare Sciences hosts its first annual Undergraduate Conference
22 October 2014
On Wednesday 22nd October over 250 students and staff from the School of Healthcare Sciences gathered in Cardiff Museum for the first annual conference for undergraduate students.
Taking place in the Museum's Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre the conference, titled Healthcare in a Global Society, brought students together from all healthcare disciplines to focus on engagement - an area of increasing importance for the University. At a time when employment is increasingly competitive, enhancing your experience - and your CV - with healthcare that takes you outside of your degree can be invaluable.
Over 200 students gathered to hear presentations from their fellow students, who delivered papers on their experiences of volunteer work and optional placements both at home and abroad. The student presenters described the work they have undertaken, their impressions of delivering healthcare in these different contexts, and the ways in which these experiences have informed their development as healthcare professionals.
The conference provided students with the opportunity to broaden their university experience by attending an academic conference, as well as bringing students together from all professions across the School. Most notably, however, it turned out to be an incredible opportunity for current students from each discipline to inspire and motivate their fellow students by describing their individual experiences.
Professor Sheila Hunt said;
"The presentations strongly conveyed the ethos of care and compassion that exists in our student body, and I am hugely proud of all the students who presented today.'
Nursing student Lauren Mort kicked off the conference by describing her POLO placement in Malawi earlier this year. An observational placement, she described the way the placement taught her the fundamental importance of advocacy, and speaking up for her patients - "as all I had to help them was my voice."
Laura Newitt, James Meadows and Oliver Wilding then delivered their presentation exploring the physiotherapy Inspire engagement programme which helps athletes across all abilities. As well as describing volunteering at the recent Cardiff Half Marathon (and massaging over 255 runners - "that's a lot of hairy legs!"), the students explained the ways in which they reflect on those experiences to ensure they are learned from, and the students move forward - this is how they develop into young professionals.
Diagnostic Radiography alumnus Amina Egeh then delivered a paper on her fascinating research into low uptake of breast screening services among Somali women in Cardiff. As well as exploring the reasons for this low uptake her implications and suggestions for improving healthcare practice to increase uptake could have an incredibly important impact on practice.
Sophie Laite represented her Occupational Therapy colleagues by presenting on her involvement with Students for Kids International Projects (SKIP). She explained their long term goals to provide interventions that are going to be sustainable in the long term, and described her visits to Zambia to undertake sexual health education and awareness raising in schools.
Kim Balsdon, a Radiotherapy graduate, moved the audience with her description of her placement in Tanzania's Cancer Institute, the only cancer centre serving a population of 50 million. She emphasized the desire among the centre's radiotherapists to learn, to keep up with current practice and to provide a service that is the best it can be - and the way in which they are frustrated by a lack of organisation and resource. Kim is now working to set up a partnership between the institute and a UK hospital to provide educational resources.
Midwifery student and Iolanthe Scholarship award winner Georgina Evans was also in Tanzania - her presentation explored the disparity of resources, equipment and practices between the UK and her placement country. She focused on the importance of reflection and being self-aware about what her experiences had taught her.
The conference was concluded with presentations by the School's Dr Dianne Watkins and Dr Nicky Phillips. They summarised the importance of engagement both at home and internationally - as well as being flagship University ambitions, such experiences are invaluable in terms of professional development. As Dr Phillips pointed out, what the students learn they will take back into the NHS. Evidence suggests that students who undertake volunteering opportunities or international placements have increased self-confidence, develop transferable skills and a greater cultural awareness, and this was all iterated throughout the student presentations.
Rhian Barnes, Director of Undergraduate Studies for Nursing & Midwifery, said:
"The focus on dignity and advocacy that was a central theme of all the presentations at the conference demonstrates that our students are, actually, true healthcare professionals already."
And Dr Dianne Watkins summed up the conference neatly for all our undergraduate students:
"The world is your oyster; please take advantage of the opportunities available to you."
If you are interested in undertaking a placement abroad, email firstname.lastname@example.org
To get involved with SKIP, please search for SKIP Cardiff on Facebook or email email@example.com
To get involved with the Inspire programme, follow @cardiffinspire on Twitter or visit the Disability Sport Wales website.