I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and share some thoughts about ANZAHPE and future directions. I have been fortunate to have been recently elected as President of ANZAHPE; a position I will hold until the next AGM in July 2021. This has come about due to recent resignation of Chinthaka Balasooriya, who demonstrated remarkable leadership during his tenure as ANZAHPE President (more about Chinthaka later).
I initially trained in medicine, and have been fortunate enough to have pursued a career following my passions and vocations. Primary among these is my love of education. Son of a High School Biology teacher, I have always held a belief, which subsequently developed into a known fact, that education has potential to emancipate, improve and make people healthier. I was a student member of ANZAME (the precursor of ANZAHPE (interestingly ANZAHPE de-differentiated in maturation)), and I have been actively in involved in ANZAHPE the last decade (as a Committee of Management (CoM) member, Vice President and now President). My academic career has always focussed on education, and have been lucky enough have led the Monash MBBS curriculum and been Head of the School of Medicine at the University of Tasmania.
My take on the challenges of the past year is they are allowing us to concentrate on what is important, and demonstrate our true resilience. The ways that Australia and New Zealand have responded to the pandemic are truly remarkable. While we both possess some natural geographical advantages, they speak to our belief and trust in data and evidence, our commitment to the common good, and probably, despite the way we like to project our images, the fact we are a pretty compliant mob.
In education, I have seen people respond with incredible ingenuity, embrace innovations, and really ask the questions of “what is important, and where is the evidence to support current practices?” Things will inevitably change, and I really hope that we don’t “waste a crisis” to ensure that the “new normal” is an improvement on the old. To keep the cliches going, however, we need to respect traditions and not “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.
When the ANZAHPE Committee of Management (CoM) addressed the reality of what was happening in 2020, there were two dominant reflections. First, how fortunate we were that we had a firm financial base as a buffer (thanks to previous CoMs, Presidents and Treasurers, and convenors of previous conferences (Julie Ash and Zsuszoka Kesckes, in particular)), and second, now is the time to support our membership.
To address the first, CoM is being cautious in its budgeting, and is actively looking at ways that we increase our revenue in the absence of a conference. We are particularly thinking about Industry sponsorship, and our Treasurer and Executive Officer (Jo Tai and Jill Romeo) are exploring options. Any contacts or suggestions from membership will be greatly appreciated.
ANZAHPE is our membership, and we exist for the single reason of advancing Health Professions Education, through supporting our members. I would like to thank the newly formed Professional Development team (led by Joy Rudland) for the rapid and agile work they have done in developing the PD program for 2020, which I know many of you have enjoyed. PD is an aspect of ANZAHPE activity that will continue, rather than being an activity we get when we come to the conference. I am keen to hear from any members who have thoughts about how we can do things better.
We have taken the decision to go online for our Conference in 2021, with the possibility of supported local hubs to ensure that the important social and networking functions of a conference are not completely lost. Its theme is “Moving Forward in Ambiguity”, and a call for Abstracts is shortly to be released, with an abstract submission deadline of the end of February. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Dale Sheehan and her team in Christchurch for all the work they did in preparing for 2021, and the generous fashion in which they have accepted the difficult decision that was reached. We are working with EventStudio (formerly Plevin and Associates) to determine the best platform to support the conference. More about the conference later.
Finally, I would like to reflect upon the CoM. They are a great group of people with boundless talent that augurs well for the future of ANZAHPE. We are truly fortunate that Chinthaka has agreed to stay on the CoM, leading initiatives in international relations, in particular with AMEE and IAMSE, but hopefully further. Chinthaka was a wonderful President of ANZAHPE, a tenure typified by his quiet and considered nature, that was always inclusive and focussed on the strategic. He was never afraid to ask the difficult question, and in so doing enabled the rest of CoM to reflect and take tough decisions. I applaud his generous and brave decision to relinquish the presidency. He was wise enough to realise that the pressures of 2020 meant that the “day job” would not allow him to serve his passion fairly. As one who tends to believe you can just push on, I have much to learn from this action.
Have a great end of year, and I hope you can get some rest, and spend time with loved ones. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes:
The reasonable person adapts themself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to themself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable person." – adapted from GB Shaw (Man and Superman)
Be unreasonable, but nice with it!!