Acknowledging a Global Need: The IAAH Education Committee

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

As an international association of professionals and organizations who are working toward the advancement of adolescent health, one of the key aims of IAAH is to enhance individual competencies of those working in adolescent health. Tasked with developing an agenda to support this aim, the Council endorsed the creation of the Education Committee in June 2020 with Risa Turetsky (USA) appointed as Chair and Dick Churchill (UK) brought on shortly thereafter in a supporting role.

Over the past 6-8 months, the committee’s leaders have consulted with individuals interested in building capacity for improving adolescent health on a global scale. Professionals representing different disciplines and regions of the world were invited to offer their perspective and ideas for the committee’s work.

During the consultation process, a number of common themes were identified:

  • Immense enthusiasm for the Education Committee’s development with plenty of offers of support.
  • Universal agreement that large numbers of healthcare professionals who come into contact with young people have never received any specific education or training about adolescence.
  • Acknowledgement that support needs to be prioritised for low and middle income countries.
  • A genuine desire for educators to be able to network with others internationally in order to share best practices and learn from each other’s experiences.
  • Recognition that collaboration with other national, regional and international organisations will be essential if the work of the IAAH Education Committee is to have maximum impact.

A diverse group of representatives have been invited to support the core education committee in moving this work forward. The consultations were an excellent opportunity to shape this new committee, and a number of enthusiastic people have expressed interest in supporting this work. Creating a wider advisory group, who can continue to be involved through ongoing, routine consultation, is also a top priority for the education committee.

There will be several concepts to grapple with as the committee decides how to prioritize initiatives going forward, including whether the committee should focus on generalist or specialist training, pre- or post-service training, benefits and limitations of distant and remote learning, and whether we should be just supporting or actually delivering training directly. Innovative and exciting ideas and suggestions were also shared, such as co-delivery of education programmes with young people, and extending the scope of any training to include a much broader range of people such as parents, teachers, social care providers, and youth justice workers.

Although discussions are still taking place, we expect the work of the committee to focus on two or three main areas during the first year:

  • Development of a policy statement to highlight the importance of educating healthcare professionals in adolescent health – which can be used by members to drive the agenda in their individual regions and countries.
  • Creation of a regularly updated resource database, in collaboration with the IAAH Young Professionals Network, to provide details of courses, conferences, online or published training resources, and professional expertise.
  • Delivery of educational content designed to reach professionals who are interested in adolescent health. The focus will be determined by the committee, with ideas ranging from case studies and topical discussions to experiences in developing adolescent health specialty areas in countries or regions.

As our work progresses, we continue to value input, ideas, and suggestions from IAAH members about how the IAAH Education Committee can help support them and be most effective.

Please feel free to email us and share your thoughts and ideas.

Risa Turetsky, IAAH Education Committee Chair

Dick Churchill, IAAH Education Committee Member

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