In celebration of #WorldAllergyWeek, and as the NHS celebrates its 70th Birthday #NHS70, we thought it would be good to catch up with students who are studying to be the healthcare workers of the future. Lydia Scrivens, Birmingham Anaphylaxis President, explains how the student-led society has been helping people at risk of anaphylaxis in their local area.
Birmingham Anaphylaxis is a student-led society at the University of Birmingham Medical School, established within the last five years. Since the society began, we have had an increase in members year on year and we now have a committee of six medical students leading the society. In the last 18 months alone, we have trained over 70 students in how to use an adrenaline auto-injector and how to deliver a session on anaphylaxis, suitable for a local community group, such as a school.
Our mission statement is to raise awareness of anaphylaxis through education, also with the aim of dissolving the stigma that unfortunately still exists around anaphylaxis and the use of auto-injectors. Another aspect of our work is to try and teach as many healthcare students as possible how to use an auto-injector confidently and safely. Unfortunately, knowledge of this skill is not a formal requirement in many medical schools, yet it is such a simple skill that has the potential to save someone’s life.
With the support of a Consultant Immunologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, locally, and also the Anaphylaxis Campaign, nationally, we hope to further increase our impact in the community. We recognize that adolescence and young adulthood, particularly the transition from school to university, can be a crucial time point. Therefore, we have previously delivered sessions at secondary schools and continue to make plans to do so. We use a variety of methods in our teaching sessions, such as videos, crosswords and quizzes to make the sessions enjoyable, as well as educational.
In the last academic year, we have held two very popular and successful training events at the Medical School and have plans to hold more later in the year, as well as organising fundraising events. We also plan to develop the society further by hosting academic lectures with guest speakers to learn about the science behind allergy, for example. Our training events so far have been aimed at healthcare students, however we would like to extend this to more students and young people, so we are aiming to run stands on campus, in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital foyer and hopefully even Birmingham Grand Central station.
Through our work, we have not only gained a better understanding of anaphylaxis and its management, but also great satisfaction. We hope that if we can teach 10 students about anaphylaxis and how to use an auto-injector, then they can go away and teach some of their friends, therefore maximising our reach and raising even greater awareness.
Lydia Scrivens, Birmingham Anaphylaxis President 2017-18