Teaching and learning public health: A #DMUglobal perspective.
Recent pandemics such as the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the increasing threat of bioterrorism have highlighted the relevance of teaching global public health in human health degree/training programmes, so future healthcare professionals are provided with the appropriate skills to respond to outbreaks of infection. To promote global public health action to strengthen infectious disease prevention, detection and response awareness, the Leicester School of Allied Health Sciences at De Montfort University (DMU, United Kingdom, UK) was funded as part of a #DMUglobal mass trip to visit New York city (NYC, United States) with fifty final year students from three different human health science programmes (BSc Biomedical Science; BMedSci Medical Science and BSc Audiology) from the 3rd to 8th January 2019 with three academic staff. These trips involve a short-term visit outside the UK to promote and facilitate the acquisition of different transversal competences and international mobility and are supported by the #DMUglobal department that also includes the Erasmus+ programme. Students were requested to monitor in situ the presence of emerging zoonotic human parasites (Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia intestinalis) in animal faecal samples from urban parks across Manhattan using immunoassay cards to identify whether interventions to protect the public would be needed. On return to DMU, students completed, in groups, a scientific poster with their monitoring results and applicable public health interventions to prevent infections and presented them in an interactive session. Following this session, fifteen students voluntarily completed a validated feedback-questionnaire (with Likert-scale and open answer questions) on the overall experience, reporting high levels of engagement and satisfaction in all the different activities organised. Specifically, 87% enjoyed monitoring the presence of these emerging human parasites in animal faecal samples and 78% enjoyed producing and defending the poster. All participants considered that the information and skills gained will help with their studies (47% agreed, 53% strongly agreed) and future careers (60% agreed, 40% strongly agreed). Participants also documented the part of the trip that they found more interesting, for example: “testing for Giardia and Cryptosporidium, and that waiting period to see if the swab contained anything on the immunocard”; “learning a new technique for environmental monitoring and understanding how quick and easy it is to do”; or “the best part was the poster presentation as it brought everything together”. Moreover, the supervision of the students’ practical work in NYC and the evaluation of the scientific posters would indicate that the #DMUglobal mass trip was successful in providing students with some knowledge of how to design and perform environmental monitoring of zoonotic emerging pathogens and identify applicable public health interventions to minimise their infections. The production and defence of the poster demonstrated that most students were able to perform a literature review and demonstrated a good level of understanding of infectious disease detection and prevention. In conclusion, despite the need for more comprehensive studies to ascertain the degree of knowledge acquisition, the results collected suggest that internationalisation facilitates the learning of emerging diseases and global health (specifically related to the relevance that environmental monitoring of emerging human pathogens has to tailor public interventions). Moreover, students were able to acquire soft and transversal competences during this innovative experience such as mobility, critical thinking, research skills, communication and team work.
Citation : Peña-Fernandez, A., Escalera, B., Peña, M.Á. (2019) Teaching and learning public health: A #DMUglobal perspective. Roig-Vila, Rosabel (coord.). REDES-INNOVAESTIC 2019. Libro de actas. Alacant: Institut de Ciències de l’Educació (ICE) de la Universitat d’Alacant, pp. 224-225.
ISBN : 9788409071852
Research Institute : Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)
Peer Reviewed : Yes