Students aim to stretch med­i­cal bound­aries

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

These students are a force to be reck­oned with.

A tight-knit group of 14 med­i­cal un­der­grads, most of whom are 20 years old, have or­gan­ised one of the largest Univer­sity of Auck­land med­i­cal con­fer­ences ever.

Mo­bilise: Con­nect, Change, Catal­yse is a two-day event which kicks off this week­end.

In­ter­na­tional speak­ers in­clude Sin­ga­porean par­a­lympian Dr Wil­liam Tan and Dr Jeph Mathias who will speak about medicine in re­mote Hi­malayan vil­lages, a Ph­nom Penh slum and the Colom­bian jun­gle.

Even He­len Clark was on the list, but is now un­able to at­tend.

More than 250 med­i­cal students have signed up to take part.

Con­vener Car­men Chan says the event has been worth the slog.

‘‘It’s the first of this size. What we’re do­ing now hasn’t re­ally been paved before. It’s like a dream.

‘‘We never ex­pected it to be this big. We haven’t even been to a con­fer­ence before, we just heard about it and thought we could do it.’’

The idea came out of a ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Chan and an­other med­i­cal stu­dent last year and it took off, she says.

Ap­par­ently med­i­cal students ran a con­fer­ence in 2012 but it was on a much smaller scale, she says.

This year’s event in­cludes a po­lit­i­cal panel, 18 work­shops, a creative com­pe­ti­tion and a cock­tail party.

Chan says the aim is to get students think­ing out­side the box.

‘‘It’s about mo­bil­is­ing students to go be­yond what’s nor­mal. We want to con­nect students with con­cepts out­side of the clin­i­cal learn­ing we fo­cus on.

‘‘It’s the hu­man side of medicine.’’

Ev­ery­thing from or­gan­is­ing the speak­ers to book­ing a venue and cater­ing, get­ting spon­sor­ship, set­ting up a web­site and print­ing lan­yards was done by the un­der­grad students. None of them had any ex­pe­ri­ence and it was all done around a hec­tic sched­ule of lec­tures and study­ing.

Cen­tral city res­i­dent Jo­evy Lim says it was only pos­si­ble be­cause of team­work.

‘‘Every­one just came on board of their own will. It’s not easy to come across a team like that.

‘‘It comes down to us hav­ing the same goal and why we’re in medicine in the first place.’’

Block­house Bay stu­dent Chelsea Heaven was in charge of spon­sor­ship and says pulling the event to­gether was a steep learn­ing curve.

‘‘With­out our spon­sors we wouldn’t have a con­fer­ence to run. We needed help and we had to learn how to get it.’’

Young lead­ers: Con­fer­ence con­vener Car­men Chan with med­i­cal students Harry Yoon, Chelsea Heaven, Nikhil Ma­gan, Jo­evy Lim, Alis­tair Lock, Katie Van Rijn and Ger­ald Lee.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bournews. co.nz to see a video about Mo­bilise.

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