Health Science Student Workshop to foster future One Health Leaders

by Myrna MacDonald

More than 50 future health science professionals gathered at the University of Saskatchewan Aug. 24 to 26 for Canada’s first student workshop on One Health, a global movement that encourages collaboration among all health professions.

“Our main goal is to help U of S students in all disciplines of health sciences recognize the critical linkages between human, animal and environmental health — a key aspect of One Health,” said Douglas Freeman, chair of the U of S Council of Health Science Deans (CHSD) and dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

One Health is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in health care for people, animals and the environment. Potential outcomes include improved patient health and safety, a more co-ordinated, proactive response to health crises, and greater health care savings.

Initiated by the WCVM and supported by Pfizer Animal Health, the workshop helps students in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nutrition, kinesiology, public health, physical therapy, nursing and veterinary medicine learn that the core of being a successful health practitioner involves applying One Health.

“If we can help students understand the importance of One Health and the value of cross-disciplinary co-operation early on in their academic careers, then it becomes natural for them to work together as professionals and to develop into future leaders in their professions,” said Freeman.

During the weekend, five high-profile speakers shared insights with students and facilitated group discussions.

Guest speakers included Brian Evans, chief food safety officer and chief veterinary officer for Canada; Mark Raizenne, director general of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centre for Food-borne, Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases; Lonnie King, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and executive dean of health sciences at Ohio State University; and Andrew Maccabe, executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

Former U.S. Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalván, an Iraq war veteran, writer and disabilities advocate, also participated with his service dog named Tuesday — the subject of his bestselling book, Until Tuesday. Montalván discussed the increasingly sophisticated relationships between humans and animals from a therapeutic and medicinal perspective.

The workshop was ideal for the U of S where One Health is a signature research area. One Health is also the impetus behind one of the university’s largest capital projects – the Health Science Complex. The U of S is the only university in Canada with a full range of health science colleges and schools on one campus.