University of Sydney embarks on epic health education challenge

8 October 2015

It’s not often that pharmacy and exercise physiology students share a classroom, but the University of Sydney is breaking new ground in interprofessional learning aimed at mimicking the real-life cases of Australians struggling with heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
More than 1,300 health professional students came together in September for the Health Collaboration Challenge, an innovative learning activity designed to provide health and medical students with the chance to work in multidisciplinary teams.

University of Sydney Pharmacy School
L – R: Sarah Standen and team mates Tsang (Pharmacy), Deborah (Medicine), Nicholas (Medicine) and Tram (Nursing) (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

“We are the only university in Australia that offers such a broad range of health disciplines and this initiative allows us to capitalise on that by giving students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of each other’s professions and how they work together,” said Professor Pip Pattison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education).
Over three days students from nursing, medicine, pharmacy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, physiotherapy, diagnostic radiography and exercise physiology took part in team-building activities and competed in teams of six to devise a management plan for a patient with complex health needs. Each team was required to produce a five-minute video and one page abstract that demonstrates their management plan for their patient, and to peer evaluate each other’s work.
“Your patient cases are going to look messy because that’s what real life is like and you are going to need to work together to solve it,” said Dr Christopher Gordon in his opening remarks to students.
Master of Exercise Physiology student Sarah Standen said the challenge was different to any learning activity she had ever taken part in.
“It’s a really different way to learn and helps us understand how best to work with patients when they have other issues outside our professional scope,” said Sarah.
University of Sydney Pharmacy School
L – R: Associate Professor Chen, Dr Nisbet, Dr Gordon and Associate Professor Jorm overseeing the final day of challenge (Photo credit: University of Sydney)

The initiative was developed by Associate Professor Timothy Chen, Dr Christopher Gordon, Associate Professor Christine Jorm, Dr Gillian Nisbet, and Associate Professor Christopher Roberts under a University of Sydney Educational Innovation Grant.
The grant, together with support from Sydney e-learning, enabled both the 2015 delivery and developmental work to make this a sustainable learning activity for the university. The academics even hope to expand the program to include students from dietetics, social work and psychology in 2016.

Bachelor of Pharmacy Program at Sydney Pharmacy School

The Bachelor of Pharmacy program provides students with the core skills and knowledge required for the effective delivery of pharmaceutical care and the ability to proceed to research. Students will study the chemical, physical, pharmaceutical, and pharmacological properties of medicinal substances and the application of these in the pharmacy profession. The Faculty of Pharmacy has an enviable national and international reputation that means students will study and interact with world-renowned academics and enjoy access to best practice teaching laboratories and cutting-edge technology.
Program: Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Duration: 4 years
Application deadline: January 31, 2016; however, it is recommended that Canadian students apply as early as possible to provide time for the pre-departure process.

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