HealthStop@Agfest: Student-led health promotion at a community event

Providing adult health-checks and facilitating children’s activities focussed on healthy behaviours at an agricultural festival.

The team from L-R: Melissa Holman, Kathryn Ogden, Julia Ray, Grant Todd, Anne Todd & Helen Eyles. 

Discipline

Health

Model/s of WIL activity

Industry/community based projects, Research activities, Technology

Description of WIL activity

HealthStop@Agfest (HealthStop) is an interprofessional student-led university-community engagement program, held at a 3-day Tasmanian agricultural festival, Agfest. HealthStop provides students from six health disciplines with opportunities to develop skills for communication and health promotion through interaction with the public. Students provide preventative health screening and motivational counselling to adults and facilitate a suite of children’s activities promoting healthy messages. Prior to the event students undertake training, including an online and in-person component. At the event they are supervised by clinicians and academics. UTAS partners with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Cancer Council, Exercise Sports Science Australia, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and Rural Youth Tasmania to provide the program.

How long has it been operating?

Over 3 days/year since 2011

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

A common concern of health education is that much work-integrated learning occurs in health-care facilities, most commonly acute care facilities. This promotes a disease-based focus, with disease prevention and health promotion largely incidental in student clinical learning. HealthStop provides students the opportunity to engage with people without acute health concerns, but in many cases with health issues or risk factors which can be addressed through lifestyle modification. This community-based WIL project provides students with a different context to practice important transferable professional skills. It encourages interprofessional practice and understanding, which remains a largely unmet priority in healthcare education.

The project is innovative in that student learning occurs in a novel context that allows genuine engagement with members of the public in a non-clinical environment, encouraging students to develop and adapt previously learned and emergent competencies to a new environment. The skills developed are relevant across disciplines, crucial for future health-care challenges, and promote an interdisciplinary approach. HealthStop is relevant to all health disciplines and can be adapted to other community settings and events. It could be adapted broadly within the HE and VE sector to include students and staff from a range of disciplines and institutions.

Partnering organisations contribute through a mix of budgets. An important funding source is the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program; designed to increase quality of student placements in rural communities. Partnering organisations contribute financial and in-kind support as the event is aligned to their strategic aims. The HealthStop model remains relatively consistent each year, acquired resources are utilised and operational costs are minimal and sustainable.

Who benefits from the WIL activity and how?

HealthStop provides UTAS and partnering organisations exposure to the community and opportunities to have direct conversations with members of the public. For students it provides a unique and enjoyable opportunity to develop important skills through engagement with adults and children. Members of the public appreciate the opportunity to have their blood pressure checked and discuss keeping healthy, while regular contact with health providers is encouraged. Tasmanian children have the opportunity to engage with university students, including conversations about their educational aspirations. Rural Youth Tasmania see the program as providing a service to their patrons.

How does the activity embed successful evaluation processes?

Iterative mixed-methods evaluation is integral, with a specific focus for evaluation each year. Early in HealthStop’s inception, the evaluation was aimed at implementation and suitability of activities, more recently evaluation has addressed student engagement and learning; engagement of and benefit to patrons, and interprofessional learning. Evaluation has led to regular improvements, with the model having remained relatively stable for the past 4-5 years. A recent focus on learning outcomes has led to the development of the online training module to help prepare students for the event. Bolstering interprofessional interaction has also been highlighted as an area for further attention.

What are the broader/longer term impacts for stakeholders?

The College of Health and Medicine, UTAS aims to graduate students with strong health preventive skills to address the health issues that Tasmania faces. UTAS highlights the importance of place-based partnerships to tackle complex social and economic challenges. Engaging with community contributes to these aims. Partnering organisations also appreciate their responsibility to be visible and engage locally. HealthStop provides a vibrant, inclusive environment by which to develop these community relationships. A Launceston GP states “Healthcare students assess cardiovascular risk and deliver tailored preventative health advice at HealthStop. This prepares students to deliver health promotional strategies crucial to tackling the burden of cardiovascular disease in Tasmania.”

How is the WIL activity integrated into curricula?

Students are prepared for HealthStop through an online module followed by a face-to-face workshop. The online module supports skill development and delivers practical information about HealthStop activities using video vignettes. Face-to-face training provides an opportunity to practice skills and for interdisciplinary engagement. Training can be adapted and developed to ensure ongoing relevance and as a generic training vehicle for other health promotion activities. At the event, students are supervised by clinicians/clinical academics who provide assistance, guidance and feedback, and opportunities for students to reflect on their learning experiences. The peer-to-peer learning that occurs can aid development of professionalism and interprofessional identity. 

How is it informed by relevant theoretical or empirical literature, research and/or scholarship?

Health promotion and social awareness are recognised as important roles of health professionals by the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986) (1) and The Edinburgh Declaration (1988)(2) encouraging an emphasis in health-care education on health promotion and disease prevention. Future health professionals’ ability to engage people in conversations and counsel them promoting healthy behaviours is an essential foundational skill for future health care professionals. Despite this the inclusion of health promotion in undergraduate health professional curricula remains variable (3). Efforts to nurture these skills require a variety of contextual opportunities, with a focus on community-based and real-life settings (4).

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

HealthStop is firmly entrenched in the College of Health and Medicine’s yearly schedule. However, we can see that the model is transferable to other settings. Previously we have provided a similar program at local football games, a state-wide craft fair, and other smaller community events, in various adaptions dependent on the circumstances. The development of the online training module is an important step in promoting transferability to other settings and to other universities and sectors who wish to utilise the model. Currently under development is a handbook which details the program, the activities provided, and organisational aspects of operating the program.

References

  1. Organization WH. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion First International Conference on Health Promotion, Ottawa, 21 November 19861986 [Available from: https://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/ottawa/en/
  2. World Federation for Medical Education. The Edinburgh Declaration World Conference on Medical Education of the World Federation for Medical Education. August 7th-12th 1988. Edinburgh, Scotland1988 [Available from: https://wfme.org/download/the-edinburgh-declaration/?wpdmdl=898&refresh=5dc23dd6d2e281573010902.
  3. Hays R. Including health promotion and illness prevention in medical education: a progress report. Med Educ. 2017.
  4. Deveugele M, Derese A, Maesschalck SD, Willems S, Driel MV, Maeseneer JD. Teaching communication skills to medical students, a challenge in the curriculum? Patient Educ Couns. 2005;58(3):265-70.

Video

Photos