ISHA 2020 Conference Report

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The Irish Student Health Association Conference 2020, themed 'A healthy mind in a healthy body', took place on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th of February, hosted this year by our colleagues from Trinity College Dublin (TCD). The conference was held at The Alex Hotel, with the annual gala dinner at the spectacular and historic Trinity College Dining Hall. Delegates from all corners of the country gathered, and the conference, which was well attended by professionals working in the field of student health, including GPs, psychiatrists, nurses, physiotherapists, health promotion officers and administrators was a great success. Dr Gregor Murdoch, past President of the UK Student Health Association, attended the conference again this year to join the Irish Student Health Association delegates, having made the journey from Stirling University in Scotland. We were also delighted to welcome our esteemed UK colleague Dr Knut Schroeder, GP and health app developer, who has worked with ISHA on developing and producing our new 'Student Health Matters' app.

Welcome & Keynote address

Attendees received a very warm welcome from Dr David Mc Grath, Medical Director of College Health Services at Trinity College Dublin, before the opening address was provided by Geraldine Ruane, Chief Operating Officer at Trinity College Dublin, who spoke of the value and importance of student health services, and the tremendous work being carried out at the Healthy Trinity Campus. Following the opening address, Dr Colman Noctor, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at St Patrick's Mental Health Services and Associate Professor at Trinity College Dublin, provided delegates with an informative and entertaining keynote address on the very apt topic of 'Creating a better relationship with technology'.

Formal Launch of the 'Student Health Matters' app

A major highlight of the conference this year was the launch of our 'Student Health Matters' App, a first of its kind recourse for 3rd level students in Ireland. The app, which is free to download on android and iPhone, was formally launched at the conference by Dr Knut Schroeder, founder and director of Expert Self CareGP and Senior Clinical Lecturer at Bristol University, and Theresa Lowry Lehnen, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Associate Lecturer at Institute of Technology, Carlow, project lead and lead author of both the 'Student Health Matters' app and eBook. Nurse Laura Tully, Institute Nurse and Health Centre Coordinator at AIT, who proposed the initial idea and concept for the app, also spoke at the formal launch.

Friday concluded with section meetings and the AGM lead by ISHA President Dr Aoife O' Sullivan, followed by the Annual Gala Dinner in the historic and atmospheric setting of the Trinity College Dining Hall, along with prize giving and entertainment provided by the incredibly talented 'Trinitones'.

The AGM and section meetings included the minutes from the 2019 AGM, correspondence, financial and the President's reports. Very informative updates on "Covid 19- Coronavirus Update" were discussed at the doctors' section meeting, and "Connecting for Life" – Ireland's National Strategy to Reduce Suicide was presented by Dr Michael Hill from UCC. Motions proposed at the conference included "Tracking Key Statistics" –Third Level Institutions would report bi-annually on key statistics e.g. ratio of medical staff to student population" (Proposed by Moira Ryan, UCD) and "Managing Emergencies on Campus" – that ISHA members would share how emergencies are managed in Health Centres and how responsibilities are shared". The AGM was brought to a close with the election of the ISHA executive committee 2020 and UCD being confirmed as the hosts for the ISHA Conference in 2021. Welcome to the new members of the ISHA committee and huge thanks to outgoing ISHA P.R.O and past President Dr Eoin McDonagh, Medical Director of Student Health Services NUIG, who has been an incredible ambassador and advocate for Student Health and the Irish Student Health Association.

Saturday Conference

On Saturday, Dr Áine Kelly, Professor in Physiology, Trinity College Dublin provided an inspiring presentation on 'Exercise as medicine', which was followed by a fascinating talk by Dr John Allman, GP on the increasingly popular topic of 'Plant-based diet'.

Saturday's educational meetings included a Clinical Women's Health session, with an excellent presentation on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, delivered by Dr Michael Reilly, Consultant Endocrinologist at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. Dr Laura Malone, a GP in Killarney, who has developed an app to reduce prescribing errors in emergency contraception provided delegates with a fascinating presentation and tour of her easy to use web based app, which is an invaluable resource in practice. Dr Malone's app can be accessed at:

Completing our clinical presentations and workshop's a very informative update on "GP management of Eating Disorders" was delivered by ISHA President Dr Aoife O'Sullivan, GP, at the Student Health Services, University College Cork.

Non-clinical workshops for our administrative colleagues delivered by Medisec, focused on GDPR issues, and an informative and practical workshop on 'Posture, ergonomics and common sense!' was presented by Karita Saar Cullen, MISCP, College Health Services Physiotherapist at Trinity College Dublin.

Awards and Prize Giving

The Dr David Thomas Award

The Dr David Thomas Award for outstanding contribution to 3rd level student health was awarded this year to Dr Niamh Murphy, College Health Services at Trinity College Dublin. Congratulations to Dr Murphy, a worthy winner of this prestigious award. "As a GP who always goes the extra mile for her patients and someone who is the epitome of an innovator and a dedicated completer finisher, she has been an inspiration to all of the GP's, Nurses, Psychiatrists, Physiotherapists and Administration Staff who have been fortunate to work with her, not to mind the myriad of students that she has assessed, diagnosed, treated and followed up in such a thorough and empathic manner over the past 23 years" (Dr David McGrath, TCD).

The Pauline Carbery Memorial Award

The conference was brought to a close with a touching remembrance of our late colleague, Nurse Pauline Carbery, of the Student Health Centre in Maynooth University, in whose memory and honour the inaugural award for the ISHA Poster Presentation competition was established. The ISHA executive committee were delighted to have members of Pauline's family in attendance for the launch and presentation of the award. The Pauline Carbery Memorial Award was awarded this year to Dr Caoimhe Clarke, Trinity College Dublin for her research and excellent poster presentation titled 'University Students: How do they study and does mental health matter? Dr Niamh Farrelly, Psychiatrist with College Health Service in TCD, accepted the award on Dr Clarke's behalf. 

It was a fitting end to a fantastic conference weekend, with huge credit due to Dr Clare Kelly, Karita Saar Cullen, the staff in the Trinity Student Health Department and the members of the ISHA executive committee, for doing such an exceptional job in organising and hosting the conference. ISHA members can now look forward to next year's conference, hosted by the Student Health Department at University College Dublin. 

Attached Documents

Application icon Conference Welcome (1.09 MB)