The University of Copenhagen and University College Copenhagen attracted future dentists, occupational therapists and experts in nutrition to generate ideas for health promotion. And the students excelled, demonstrating great creativity and insight into motivation, among other things.
A year of coordination and planning culminated Wednesday before the autumn break, when teachers from UCPH and UCC held a joint co-creation workshop for their students. A total of 100 students of dentistry (UCPH), occupational therapy (UCC) and Global Nutrition and Health (UCC) met at UCC for three hours of intensive cross-disciplinary cooperation.
Paul Bloch, Head of Research at the Steno Diabetes Center, gave an inspirational presentation and was happy to see teachers work together on bringing cross-disciplinary cooperation into focus.
It was a good and important initiative! We need to be serious about strengthening cross-disciplinary cooperation in and across Danish research institutions, educational institutions, authorities and practice if we are to successfully promote health among citizens on a sustainable basis, he said.
Diabetes Case Framed the Workshop
The workshop took as its starting point a case about Karen provided by the Steno Diabetes Center. Karen is a woman in her early 40s, who has two children and suffers from diabetes. She needs help leading a healthier life to avoid complications from her disease.
In cross-disciplinary groups, the students thus set to work developing ideas that could help Karen. For an hour and a half, they worked intensively and intently on ideas they could present on a poster.
Taste of Reality
The participating students were thrilled to be given this opportunity to work together with other professions.
It was very interesting to learn what the others can do and which competences we share. You see, it is a taste of the cooperation we must be able to master after graduating. It also taught us that we do not have to be able to do everything ourselves. On the contrary, we must be able to refer to others – this gives us a much better result, said Jonathan, who is training to become a dentist at UCPH, and Camilla, who is training to become an occupational therapist at UCC.
Students Demonstrated Great Ingenuity
The students were able to give a brief presentation of their ideas to a panel consisting of:
- Mette Andersen Nexø, Steno Diabetes Center, who had provided the challenge
- Paul Bloch, Steno Diabetes Center
- Elisabeth Gregersen, President, Danish Association of Dental Hygienists
- Nina Brocks, Innovation Consultant, Capital Region of Denmark
The students demonstrated great ingenuity developing ideas for how the competences of the individual professions can be brought into play, while at the same time contributing to a broader cross-disciplinary effort to solve the complex social and health-related challenges facing society, said Paul Bloch.
Mette Andersen Nexø agreed:
I was very impressed with how much they accomplished in such short time. I had given them a fairly difficult assignment, which meant they had to use their own competences as well as acquaint themselves with the other professions and come up with solutions together. This takes time and can be difficult. Everyone succeeded, though, and the ideas included a lot of creative and useful solutions for health promotion, she said.
One of the ideas that really caught Mette Andersen Nexø’s attention came from a group who had invented a new concept: unconscious motivation. The group had come up with ways of changing structures and challenges in Karen’s life in order to create what they called unconscious motivation for health promotion. This is a clever approach, as research shows that it can be incredibly difficult to motivate people directly to make changes. Therefore, the group was among the three winners.
Students Wanted More Time
The students were happy to have participated in the challenge, but a lot also said that they would have liked to have more time to understand each other’s professional competences better and to explore the ideas in depth. The organisers will take this input into consideration in their evaluation and ensure that it is incorporated into future efforts involving this type of teaching.
Hopefully, this is not the last time the three study programmes get to work closely together.