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First Language Project, an initiative in Humanising Healthcare

‘Humanising Healthcare’ supports students to deliver essential healthcare and healthcare education to our communities as part of the curriculum and encourage global volunteering, thus creating a workforce characterised by civic values and skills.

“In pioneering the ‘Humanising Healthcare’ program concept, we have successfully interwoven service learning pedagogy into the health care curriculum and positively interlocked the student learning experience with helping to combat health inequalities in Manchester and further afield. We sincerely thank the Talloires University Network for recognising our students’ achievements which is very much in alignment with Social Responsibility, one of our University’s strategic goals.”  Dr. Raj. Ariyaratnam, Program Lead.

The program is based on the premise that we cannot create excellent healthcare professionals of tomorrow without creating engaged ones.

The program, started in dentistry in 2012 by Dr Senathirajah Ariayatnam and his team under the ‘Humanising Dentistry’ concept was then extended to other University healthcare programs under the banner ‘Humanising Healthcare’.

Humanising Healthcare: key facts:

  • Prior to COVID-19 c1,000 dental students treated 38,720 paediatric and 140,800 adult patients respectively over 10 years as a core part of the curriculum.
  • 150 students provided oral health education to thousands across 15 countries.
  • Community members involved: refugees and asylum seekers (n=40), LGBTQ+ community members (n=26), and native non-English speakers, working with our students to co-design bespoke healthcare services.
  • During COVID-19 ‘local’ became ‘global’ – with our work with Chinese and Tamil-speaking Manchester communities extended to North Sri Lanka to provide accurate COVID-19 information for hard to reach communities.
  • The year 3 pharmacy curriculum has been transformed to deliver health workshops to local 14/15-year-old school pupils, with >400 students delivering >100 workshops to >3000 pupils as part of the assessed core curriculum.
  • >400 students engaged with international and national charities, establishing their own University optometry community service learning centre providing a community eye care service.

Students also contribute to tackling global health challenges through involvement in initiatives such as ‘One to One’ and ‘Work the World’.

The first national Service Learning in Healthcare conference in the UK was hosted by our program in 2019, with a UK healthcare service learning framework now being developed, including service learning in a post-COVID-19 world. Learn more about the programs at University of Manchester and see their video on service learning here and below.