Report from the Irish Student Health Association 2018 Conference & AGM
Last weekend, the beautiful comfort and hospitality of the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone provided the setting for the rescheduled Irish Student Health Association (ISHA) 2018 Conference & AGM. In stark contrast to the blizzard conditions that saw the postponement of the original event in early March, delegates were instead greeted with some glorious, warm, midlands sunshine.
The weather was still set to have a say in causing some drama however, as our Keynote Speaker, Dr Dominique Thompson, was the victim of fog in Bristol forcing her to have to undertake a mini-marathon of a journey to be able to join us slightly later than planned on the Friday evening. Host and lead organiser of this year's Conference, ISHA President, Laura Tully, was as calm as ever in handling this dilemma and rejigged the schedule to bring forward the Section Meetings & AGM. The wonderful understanding displayed by the attending delegates in accepting the late and unforeseen changes was greatly appreciated by all the members of the ISHA Executive Committee.
Dr Niall Seery, VP of Academic Affairs & Registrar at Athlone Institute of Technology delivered a Welcome Address early on the Friday afternoon. Delegates then broke into separate rooms for the various Section meetings, which provided some good discussions around various clinical and non-clinical issues. After a quick refreshment break for Tea & Coffee, there then followed a well-attended ISHA AGM. The minutes from the 2017 AGM were read and accepted, while reports were then provided by the President, Treasurer and PRO. The main topic down for discussion at this year's AGM was the Draft ISHA Position Statement on the use of Telemedicine, particularly Online/Video Consultations. Suggestions were provided from the floor for a number of minor amendments to the document, particularly in relation to greater highlighting of the significant associated risks that had been identified in the findings of a number of recent research studies around Telemedicine. Overall, the document was very well received and was roundly acknowledged as being very timely. Shortly after 5 o'clock, the AGM was brought to a close and attendees dispersed to ready themselves for the evening's dinner and social gathering.
Social events began with a drinks reception and an emotional celebration and remembrance of our late ISHA colleague and Student Health Nurse from NUI Maynooth, Pauline Carberry. Friends and colleagues had gathered some lovely photos as a touching memorial to honour Pauline. After enjoying a beautiful meal, we were delighted to finally have the opportunity to have Dr Dominique Thompson provide her Keynote Address, titled 'Caring for Generation Z'. This provided us all with a great insight into the origins of the issues, particularly around mental health, that affect the students to whom we provide care to on a day-to-day basis. A Table Quiz, with plenty of fun and laughs throughout, arising from the various unusual answers, the lucky dip and some nostalgic music rounds, provided an official end to the night's socialising. Though, rumour has it that some attendees may have stayed up a little bit later!
Saturday morning saw an Opening Address provided by Sarah La Cumbre, Student Resource Centre Manager at Athlone IT. Over the course of the morning, administrators then had workshops facilitated by Aisling Malone and Dee Duffy, of Medisec Ireland, on Client File Management/Update on Data Protection Laws and Communication Strategies, respectively. From a clinical practise viewpoint, the morning's session kicked off with a wonderfully informative update on eating disorders from Dr Dominique Thompson, combined with an all-important insight into the 'Irish Perspective' around this significant mental health issue, from incoming ISHA Vice-President, Dr Aoife O'Sullivan of UCC. We then had a talk provided by Dr Brenda Corcoran, Consultant in Public Health Medicine from the National Imminusations Office, on immunisations and vaccine-preventable diseases in relation to the student population. After a late-morning break for some well-needed refreshments, the Conference resumed with an entertaining and very useful presentation from Olivia Wilson, Advanced Clinical Nurse Practitioner from Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, on the assessment and management of head injuries in young adults. Agnes Tully of NUI Galway then presented their research findings on the valuable and positive impact of their Mental Health Support Worker, a recently established role within the Student Health Service at the University. Dr Fiona Thompson, of UCD Student Health Service, subsequently enlightened us on the significant benefits of a 'Books on Prescription Scheme', which had been set up in UCD and which was going from strength to strength. Addiction Counsellor, Mark Campbell, provided the final contribution to the conference with his overview of the challenges and issues related to Cannabis use among young people in Ireland. ISHA President, Laura Tully, then provided her closing address to the delegates, bringing the curtain down on a thoroughly enjoyable and educational weekend.
On behalf of the ISHA Executive Committee, we would like to formally thank all our inspirational speakers, all our energetic and very sociable delegates, and the wonderful and friendly staff of the Sheraton Hotel Athlone, for contributing to the weekend's enjoyment and the success of the Conference. We would also like to express our deep gratitude to all our exhibitors for their support, and in particular, to our Main Conference Sponsor, Consilient Health Ltd., without whose backing it would not be possible to deliver an event to the high standards that have been achieved in recent years. Lastly, our final word of thanks goes to ISHA President and Athlone IT Health Centre Nurse Co-ordinator, Laura Tully, and all her colleagues from AIT, for doing such an excellent job in putting together and hosting a fantastic 2018 Irish Student Health Association Conference & AGM!
Mark Campbell, Addiction Counsellor
Olivia Wilson, Advanced Clincal Nurse Practitioner.
Agnes Tully, NUI Galway.
Dr Dominique Thompson & Dr Aoife O'Sullivan
Dr Brenda Corcoran
Dr Fiona Thompson, UCD Student Health Service