Mt.A holds its last interdisciplinary conversation of the year

Two Mount Allison professors and a Wellness Centre nurse discuss what connection means to them

The ad hoc committee for Mount Allison’s interdisciplinary conversation series includes professors of biology, commerce and anthropology.

This month’s conversation, as all these conversations this year, focused on the topic of connection.

The speaker’s panel included Dr. Amanda Cockshutt, Dr. Mark Hamilton and nurse Cindy Crossman. Each spoke for 10 minutes followed by a discussion between the panel and the audience.

Cockshutt, the dean of science and head of chemistry and biology, spoke about making connections with students. Cockshutt told a story about a student connection she made recently.

Cockshutt was asked to mentor a PhD student at a conference in Puerto Rico. After exchanging emails with the student, “I discovered that my mentee used to be one of my sister’s students at high school 15 years ago,” Cockshutt said.

When Cockshutt met the student, they spoke about the importance of computer skills and data for undergraduates. The student mentioned that her partner worked at Harvard developing a data management program. “This guy is another interesting connection,” Cockshutt said. She asked if the student would put her in contact with him to discuss the importance of data processing and management as undergraduates at institutions like Harvard.

“Incorporating those course skills can turn out graduates that are ready to go to various different kinds of fields,” said Cockshutt.

She said that she tries to make these student connections at the beginning of every year: “I try to figure out who they are, what their needs are and what they need in terms of education here at Mt. A.”

The next to speak was Hamilton, a professor in the math and computer science department. He spoke about connection in mathematics and geometry.

Hamilton talked about a concept in geometry called a “connection,” which he likened to a set of bridges between infinitely tall skyscrapers, giving correspondences between floors in different buildings.

“If you leave one skyscraper to walk through the bridges for a while, and come back to your original building you might or might not end up in the same floor,” he said.

The final speaker was Cindy Crossman, who spoke about making connections to enhance collaborative relationships between health care providers.

Crossman said, “Collaboration is an idea that is frequently discussed in the health-care department and the benefits are validated when it is really practiced.” She said that it is easier to talk about the collaborative partnerships than actually forming them.

“Think about the collaboration in our rural location. Think about the scarcity of health-care providers in rural areas in general,” she added.

“If there are less healthcare providers to meet the needs of our community, then we have to take it in a different way to get the healthcare community connected,” Crossman said.

Crossman said that we have all kinds of resources ,such as family physicians, pharmacists, therapists, dietations and psychologists, who are all skilled in their own disciplines  “Connecting with one another, understanding and appreciate one another is critical,” she said.

She explained how the Wellness Centre currently uses a collaborative practice model with family physicians, where each discipline respects each other’s practice values and they work to enhance the quality of patients’ care.

“We make connections with other professional disciplines inside and outside the Mt. A community. To enhance collaborative practice we consult, collaborate and partner on cases with the client’s permission,” she said.

“Sometimes this collaboration might be as simple as making a telephone call,” she added.

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