Making internationalisation a reality for occupational therapy students (MIROTS) - a community engagement project
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Fox, Jackie , Hynes, Sinead , Ekstam, Lisa, Orban, Kristina , Shiel, Agnes , & Truman, Juliette. (2017). Making internationalisation a reality for occupational therapy students (MIROTS) - a community engagement project. Paper presented at the 7th International Symposium on Service-Learning Galway, Ireland.
Occupational therapists support and enable people to partake in occupations or activities that are important to them; that they need/want/are expected to do. Occupational therapists are increasingly involved in services addressing the impact that social inequalities can have on peoples wellbeing. One way in which occupational therapy students in NUI Galway learn relevant skills is through service learning and community engagement. This presentation reports on an Erasmus-funded project called, Making Internationalisation a Reality for Occupational Therapy Students (MIROTS) that saw students participating in international collaboration and community engagement with a focus on social injustice. The MIROTS programme consisted of both a physical and web-exchange between NUI Galway, University of Southampton and Lund University, Sweden. During the physical exchange students from the three universities collaborated for a week in Lund, Sweden, and worked in partnership with charitable organisations to develop and design solutions to real life challenges. The groups included organisations for people with gambling addictions, unaccompanied refugee children, unemployed young people, people with mental health problems and people who are homeless. Through the project work students developed an understanding of the needs of these socially excluded groups and demonstrated a commitment as health professionals to addressing their needs. Students, in partnership with organisations in their own countries and in Lund, will make a sustainable contribution to these marginalized groups, so that all parties benefit from the exchange. These contributions could include some education for staff, videos raising awareness of a social exclusion issue, or a plan for improving the health of the populations. During the exchange students learned about health-care and services in Ireland, the UK and Sweden and different theoretical frameworks used. The web-exchange allowed for reflection and debate on topics relating to injustice and occupation. The project offered students and staff opportunities to share teaching and research ideas with one another. It also demonstrated to students how they might go about influencing the research and global health agendas. This project is funded by Erasmus and KA2 Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices, Strategic Partnerships for higher education.