Pilot student project tackles how emerging technology will impact health workforce

Students in the new University of Sydney subject, Industry and Community Projects, with Dr Chris Ganora (left) and Carla Edwards (right). 


Students from the University of Sydney are gaining global perspectives and cross-disciplinary teamwork skills via a new project for the Westmead Redevelopment.  

The project is part of a new university subject, Industry and Community Project Units, where students from a variety of disciplines together with industry and community partners collaborate to tackle challenges from careers of the future.

The Westmead Redevelopment is a partner in the new subject and Carla Edwards, director of redesign and transformation, is working with the students to address a simple question: how will emerging technologies impact the future health workforce?

“We’re asking these students – a majority of who don’t have tech backgrounds – to investigate how artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D printing and other emerging technologies will have an impact on health workforce planning and development,” she said. 

“It’s a huge task; with the opening of the central acute services building in 2020, and ongoing changes to how we deliver health services and provide education, training and research, the face of the Westmead precinct workforce will grow and change significantly.

“We need to be ahead of the game and use technology to shape our future.

“The students involved in the project come from disciplines spanning health, business, engineering, design and the arts; what brings them together is a natural curiosity and a desire to make an impact.”

University of Sydney students Hayfa Bakour, Yannick De Silva, Mariam Hamid, Cameron Nash and Georgina Armitage.


Georgina Armitage is studying a Bachelor of Science (Physiology). 

She said it was easy to get stuck in one way of thinking and solving problems. 

“This subject poses a challenge and an opportunity to think outside the box,” she said. 

“The class is different, the exercises and the assignments are different; we’re being challenged to think in a brand new way, to come up with novel solutions to novel problems.” 

Georgina’s group is looking at how apps can increase efficiency and effectiveness in health workforce planning. 

Classmate Yannick De Silva is studying a combined Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering and Commerce, and said the subject gave him an opportunity to integrate his studies and be part of the change occurring with the Westmead Redevelopment. 

“I can consolidate and build on what I’ve learned from my degrees, but also learn about other disciplines from my team members,” he said.

Yannick’s group is investigating ways to improve communication and sharing patient information between practitioners.

“We take it seriously – this is an opportunity to be part of the healthcare revolution and it would be great to see our ideas considered or even implemented.”

University of Sydney lecturer in the Department of General Practice Westmead, Dr Chris Ganora is the Westmead project supervisor.  

He said breaking down the silos between professions was the only way forward.  

“At the end of this subject, I would like to see the students comfortable being isolated in an interdisciplinary team; to be able to stand up for their profession but also have the capacity to listen and respect others. 

“I have no expectations for a final, finished product. The subject is less about ‘this is what we have produced’ and more about ‘this is how and why we did it’. 

“We have a class of intelligent, open-minded and enthusiastic students that each bring their own style to this subject; they want to make a difference – I can’t wait to see what they come up with.”

The students will present their outcomes on Friday, 8 June 2018. All Westmead affiliates are welcome to attend.

Click here for more information on the subject. 

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