The U21 Health Sciences group is one of the collaborative groups of the Universitas 21 network for international higher education. It was created in 2000 to provide Health Sciences faculty within Univeristas 21 member universities with a framework for exploring opportunities for collaborative research , information exchange, and sharing of resources. The U21 Health Sciences membership is truly interdisciplinary and includes Dentistry, Health and rehabilitation Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery, Pharmacy and Public Health.
This year’s meeting was held in the beautiful city of Santiago, Chile. It was hosted by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and our conference was held in spectacular surroundings in the centre of Chile. Birmingham had strong representation in Dentistry with other representatives from Pharmacy, Nursing and the CPD centre at the Medical School.
The timing of the meeting was not long after the major earthquake in the north of the country. The Birmingham delegates experienced several aftershocks during the week which proved to be a focal talking point during the day. The locals did not seem unduly worried about them which was reassuring to ourselves.
The meeting started with the UN millennium goals where Raj Banga (BDS Year 4) gave a presentation on his work in Birmingham. This was followed the next day by the Social media in Healthcare meeting (SoMe) and Jessica Huang (BDS Year 5) updated the audience about the work of the group. The theme of the core U21 conference was on Professionalism across the healthcare disciplines and there was lively discussion in the audience about how the findings from the study could be taken home to our own institutions.
The various specialities have their own afternoon sessions and we were hosted by the dental school of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The Dental school staff gave presentations in the areas of Public Dental Health, Service leadership and teaching and finally Research. There were representatives from the schools of Birmingham, Melbourne, Korea and Santiago. There was some interesting exchanges and we will see these develop over the year. The conference closed with a presentation by Professor Walmsley who was the elected the Deputy Chair of the U21 Health Sciences Group and will also be the conference organiser for next year’s annual conference in Birmingham.
There was also the chance to see local dancing from around Chile during the Annual dinner and visit the beautiful City of Valparaiso. Our hosts had put together a splendid conference and the great advantage of this particular meeting is the opportunity to interact with fellow Healthcare professionals from across the international network.