Health profession students hold the future in their hands. How do we as educators, regulators and trainers empower students to be agents of change?

At the 2022 Interprofessional Colloquium on Thursday 8 September, Professor Debra Rowett PSM, President of Council of Pharmacy Schools ANZ (CPS), and Professor Karen Strickland, President of Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery (CDNM), delivered an Outcome Statement, making a public commitment to supporting students.

The joint statement from the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC), the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC), CDNM, and CPS, emphasises the importance of empowering students to deliver future focussed primary healthcare. Professor Strickland and Professor Rowett addressed questions of how we co-create as students, educators, regulators and community to grow our workforce and influence healthcare reform. They also touched on the growing challenges of climate change, digital health, and Artificial Intelligence.

"The modernised health system will be more integrated, efficient, focused on patients and equitable. But how do we get there?" asked Professor Rowett.

"How do we use tele-medicine and tele-practice to encourage and enhance interprofessional learning and interprofessional education when a lot of interactions are asynchronous. We're not all in the same room, or at the same bedside of the patient anymore. How do we enhance this to deliver future-centred healthcare?

"Healthcare is delivered not just in hospitals, or in any one single site. Our students are going to need to inform this healthcare landscape. Not only be work-ready. But be ready to change it, to learn from the pandemic and take forward new approaches that truly deliver patient-centred care," she said.

Professor Rowett also emphasised the inclusion of learning how to deliver culturally safe care and embedding this in policy.

Professor Strickland commented on the continuum of support for students.

"[We need] interprofessional learning that recognises the professional similarities but also distinguishes the differences as well, so that we can all work together really seamlessly within a team and it's not fragmented care for the patient," she said.

"We've got mentorship and outreach to alumni. That's something we don't do perhaps well enough - how we use our alumni in our universities and how we celebrate them. We've got building multidisciplinary outreach programs, mentally healthy workplaces and psychological safety," she said.

"If we keep doing the same thing, and looking at the same solutions we're going to keep getting the same answers. So we need to really think differently," she said.

As Accreditation Authorities in the National Scheme, APC and ANMAC will continue to collaborate and support education providers to ensure their programs provide opportunities for students to receive opportunities to grow their competence and capabilities to be change agents in health.

The Interprofessional Colloquium's 2022 theme enlighten, empower and emancipate - planting the seeds to future-proof our professions threaded key messages of transforming education so that students feel a sense of belonging and empowered to disrupt the status quo.

Over 160 delegates and 23 speakers examined how educators and trainers can produce a resilient and future-focussed workforce. The program highlighted just how critical students are to mitigating risks and lessening the effects of continuing global issues, such as pandemics.

"We believe that when you give students the right tools and give them the confidence and reassurance that they hold the power to create change, then they will want to be the disruptors. And they will feel confident to make real change," said APC CEO Bronwyn Clark.

"But for them to have that mindset, it’s up to us as educators to plant those seeds to future proof our professions," she said.

Presenter Lorraine Fields, Registered Nurse and Lecturer at Wollongong University said in her session, "Start treating students as our colleagues. Because they will be."

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