Out of Africa – Back to Melbourne

A nurse, a doctor, a radiographer, and a speech pathologist, go on an African safari; who sees the most animals? It sounds like the beginning of a bad dad-joke, rather than the end of an international meeting of 118 academics and students dedicated to advancing learning, teaching and research in the health sciences. The occasion responsible for this eclectic mix was the 17th annual meeting of the Universitas 21 Health Science Group (U21 HSG) hosted in 2017 by Johannesburg University.

U21 is a global network of 25 research focused prestigious universities - with the University of Melbourne as a founding member. The Health Sciences Group meets annually to exchange ideas, develop resources and provide opportunities for both students and educators within a collaborative and innovative space. Last year's theme Global Health: Challenges, Constraints and Implementation Models, brought together a multidisciplinary assortment: nursing/midwifery (27 participants), medicine (24), public health (19), radiography and medical imaging (11), dentistry (5), exercise physiology / sports and movement (5), physiotherapy (4), pharmacy (3), speech pathology (2), podiatry (2), paramedics (2), occupational therapy (1), social work (1), audiology (1), optometry (1) and last but not least, dietetics (1).

The 17th annual meeting of the Universitas 21 Health Science Group

The 27 nurses and midwives represented a total of 11 Universities, across eight continents (except for Antarctica, which we had surrounded at four corners with Chile, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa). This critical mass of inspired nurse academics commenced proceedings with doctoral students presenting how their research was sustaining communities. Research discussions continued the next day with the Deans of Nursing, and ring-ins like myself, identifying the research focus, projects and outputs throughout the U21 Nursing Schools. The final list was comprehensive, with paths for future collaborations laid.

Furthermore, the theme for the 2018 Melbourne meeting gained traction, with genuine and impassioned discussion about equipping our future nurses to identify marginalised populations and substantially intervene to prevent their inequitable burden of ill-health including gender-based violence, and stigmatising mental health issues.

In toto, I have taken out of Africa: Case studies developed from the United Nations sustainability development goals. These are ready for any of us to use in our teaching, regardless of discipline and across clinical schools.

Keen interest in interdisciplinary simulations that are patient-centric and involve students working together to move a single patient from the field (e.g.: MVA), to triage / ED, through operating theatre, to recovery, to the ward, to discharge back to the community. Critical awareness of the seven tactics unhealthy commodity industries use to undermine public health and the recent hard-won and overdue downgrading of milo's health star rating.

Perpetual dismay and intermittent outrage that 143 mental health service users, died when the South African Government moved 1711 inpatients from Life Esidimeni into NGOs without adequate support, clinical care, carer involvement or even minimal consideration of basic needs. And that this act of profound negligence occurred in 2016, despite public outcry, legal argument and advocacy. Opportunities in negotiation for our Master of Nursing Science students to undertake international placements through a U21HSG member University.

Finally, the answer to the initial question, the dad-joke. It wasn't the professions trained in visual observations or those who examine the minutia of shadows in an image, or even the one qualified in seeing changes in a person's affect. It was the speech pathologist, the one who hears, who saw the most animals on safari. U21 is also about people and their unique strengths and the outcomes of those unlikely combinations. Universitas 21 HSG meetings are unique moments in academia in which educators and researchers across the health professions genuinely collaborate and share resources. See you at the 2018 meeting here at University of Melbourne, September 10-14.