Cardiff University offers the full range of health-care subjects making us fairly unique in the UK. Delivering such a comprehensive programme of education is challenging, however it also brings with it great opportunity.
Each year we send out into the world a plethora of highly skilled medical professionals. Over 300 doctors, 400 nurses, 100 physiotherapists, 150 pharmacists, 80 dentists, 80 opticians, psychologists, biochemists, radiographers – the list goes on.
Last year alone approximately 1,800 students graduated from the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, with the vast majority now delivering vital services within the NHS.
This is a significant achievement that contributes enormously to the continued effectiveness of the NHS and ultimately the high quality care of patients. But this isn’t simply a production line for student education – and never would we want it to be. Enormous effort goes into training the very best students with the right skills for today’s health service.
The environment is constantly changing along with the health needs of patients and the challenges of a stretched NHS. The skill and expertise of those that teach our students continues to adapt and innovate so that a Cardiff University graduate is always well placed to make a significant contribution within their chosen profession.
But should teaching our health care students be done solely within the boundaries of a particular discipline? As members of the public we regularly encounter health professionals from a range of disciplines either for our own personal treatment or the treatment of family and friends. The health-care professionals work together and the focus is always on the patient (us). Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, social workers all work together to provide the best treatment possible. So if that’s how things are delivered in the health service then why aren’t we teaching our students in a way that encourages this collaborative working? Well I’m pleased to say we are, and Cardiff University is leading the way.
I was recently invited to deliver the opening address at the 2016 Interprofessional Education (IPE) Conference held here in Cardiff. As one of the leading institutions on IPE hosting a conference focused on this vital area of health-care is important to drive the agenda forward and facilitate the sharing of best practice.
For those of you not familiar with the concept of Interprofessional education it refers to occasions when students from two or more professions in health and social care learn together during all or part of their professional training with the object of cultivating collaborative practice for providing client or patient centered health care.
Interprofessional education is an important part of preparing the health-care workforce for the global challenges of the 21st century. Working with the Schools within our College, we are working to embed IPE into the individual professional development of students at all levels.
The conference provided some real momentum to help drive change across the sector. We were treated to some wonderful presentations – from patient stories describing the consequences of poor health-care collaboration, to health professionals working closely with Williams Formula One racing team to improve service delivery.
It was also encouraging to receive a positive endorsement on the day from Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing, and Sport for the step-change Cardiff University is trying to implement.
The conference proved hugely successful in promoting multidisciplinary collaborations and providing clear direction in methods of establishing interprofessional education, research and practice. My hope now is that these methods will link directly to the delivery of best practice and comprehensive, quality health-care for patients, their families and the community.