“Students perpetuate a vision of health that they are surrounded by”

Our day started with an amazing lecture about public health in Britain from Aldo Mussi and James Gilles. We first began with the definition of public health. Many times when we as individuals think about health, it is from the perspective of illness. Being healthy is determined by the absence of physical illness. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, not merely the absence of disease”. The last part can even be contested by those with disabilities, as it is possible to have a chronic disease and still practice a healthy lifestyle. I find this definition to be much more encompassing of the things which affect individuals and their quality of life. Especially in recent times, the importance of mental health has become more important than ever before. 

My group’s research has been focused on the topic of immigration and its effects in healthcare and education, and the information we learned provided an entirely new perspective from which to approach our research questions. There are many important factors of public health (such as quality of housing, food, and water) that can impact the health of a community, especially those of immigrants. Even in a country with free access to healthcare, we wondered why certain populations did not take advantage of these opportunities. James explained that access in minority communities where English is not the primary language can be very difficult, and after Brexit, there has been a sentiment of immigrants being a problem, causing the provision of healthcare in other languages to “fall out of fashion”. I found this observation to be extremely helpful, as I had not previously thought about the impacts of Brexit on individual people. In addition, it also brought to our attention that we need to look at class differences between immigrants (refugees vs migrants vs expatriates) and how it affects their access.

After class we rushed over to the Birmingham Botanical Garden in order to attend a healthcare conference. The first speaker we listened to was Kirsty Patel, speaking on radiography. We then moved over to the Loudon suite, where Dr Simon Cook spoke on mobilities. This was an area of healthcare that was completely brand new to me. This was a field that focused on the science of motion, derived from the field of human geography. A lot of the themes he had spoken about tied in to our day’s previous definitions of health and the importance of adaptability to achieve health. After a quick lunch, the final presentation of the day spoke about conscientious objection in nursing, which is something I never really considered that we would be able to do in the workforce. In summary, I learned a lot about what a research presentation can/should look like, and important presentation skills.

Next we were able to meet BCU students at the adult nurse belonging event. In honor of International Nurses Day, they were hosting an event for all of the nursing students who specialized in adult nursing to spend time together playing fun games. It was so nice to get to meet other nursing students and share jokes and smiles. We even played a trivia game about nursing! My most important takeaway from one of the instructors was to learn to trust my gut. It got me a few answers correct! I also learned that Mary Seacole, who pioneered nursing in Britain and who the BCU building is named after, was a Jamaican woman. As a Jamaican myself, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride and a further connection to the field of nursing (also don’t tell my mom I got that question wrong, she’s probably told me 100 times before and I STILL forgot!).

Finally we visited the SPACE skills lab. Here we got to practice hand washing, BLS, and our knowledge of anatomy. This area reminded me a lot of the skills lab back at Victoria Building, fully equipped with dummies and hospital beds, all to simulate a real environment. The space was a perfect place for students to be able to practice the skills which they learned in theory, and I enjoyed how hands-on and independent it was. The most impacting part of the experience was a video simulation where we learned how to deliver bad news. This was something I never really thought deeply about before, but is so important to a patient’s experience. Nurses have to be extremely careful with their bedside manner, not to make false promises or instill misguided hope, but also to be honest and nurturing towards their patients. There were so many things to consider when delivering news, such as preventing distressed family members from driving and delivering hard news very straightforward but still being encouraging. It is a difficult and fine line to walk which I will always be conscious of.

Overall, I had such a fun day meeting new people and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Leave a Reply