Academics, assistive technology innovators, healthcare practitioners, managers and directors from both sides of the Atlantic shared best practice at a free two-day virtual conference recently. ‘Global Perspectives on Health and Social Care, Collaborative Discussions with Northern Ireland and the U.S’ took place on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th November 2022.

The event, which is organised by Northern Regional College, North West Regional College and South West College, in partnership with St Petersburg College, Florida, and University of St Cyril and Methodius, Trnava, was open to all health and social care students and practitioners. It was a truly international event that enhanced knowledge and understanding for students, staff and health and social care professionals.

Among the topics discussed was the current urgent challenges facing the health and social sector, including ethics in health and human services, inequalities and access to care. It was a truly unique experience that provided perspectives from Europe, USA and the UK.

The conference programme included three sessions, each covering a different topic.

Tuesday, 15th November, 5.30pm, ‘Interactive Student Ethics Discussion’. This student only event was followed by a session at 7.30pm, ‘Ethics in Health and Human Services Discussion’. St. Petersburg College led the session. The second session included contributions from both St. Petersburg College, North West Regional College and South West College staff and was attended by students, academics, health and social care professionals and members of the public.

The third and final conference session on Wednesday, 16th November at 3.00pm, ‘Inequalities and Access to Care Discussion’ included contributions from health and social care staff who reflected on their valuable experience of working in the sector. South West College led the session with industry leaders and explored diversity across the nation, sharing wisdom on methods to address inequalities from policy to practice.

Dr Karen McCambridge, Curriculum Area Manager for Health and Social Care at Northern Regional College, has been part of the conference development team since 2021.

She explained that the conference programme was tailored for Foundation Degree Health and Social Care students and its content reflected what students in both Northern Ireland and the US are studying:

“The topics covered was reflective of what health and social care students on both sides of the Atlantic are studying, as well as being very relevant to current issues affecting the health and social care sector.”

“The conference offered an excellent opportunity for our students to get a valuable insight from industry experts and have an opportunity to interact with their peers in the US.

“The first session on Tuesday 16th November was a student only event and it allowed students studying the Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care in FE colleges in Northern Ireland to interact with students from St Petersburg College in Florida.

“This helped widen the perspective of our students, as they learnt how relevant certain topics in the health and social care sector are in the US in comparison to Northern Ireland.”

Dr McCambridge added: “Students currently studying Health and Social Care courses or anyone with aspirations to do so, benefitted greatly from attending this virtual conference.”

Ms Camilla James, Deputy Head of School, Health and Social Care [SWC] added, “The online webinars offered international expertise from the USA and Northern Ireland on the future of Health and Social Care, and participants had the opportunity to interact with expert contributors during a live Q&A. The event was enriching and innovative for all.”

Dr Lynda Hegarty, Head of School for Health, Sport and Science [NWRC] continued, “The calibre of speakers was excellent, and it was a wonderful opportunity to hear first-hand about their specialist expertise and insight. We all learnt from sharing best practice.”

To watch the recorded ‘Global Perspectives on Health and Social Care, Collaborative Discussions with Northern Ireland and the U.S’, click here.

To find out more about the Foundation Degree in Science in Health and Social Care programme contact Camilla James ( or Stephanie McGuinness ( for further information.

Foundation Degree in Science in Health and Social Care