Qatar University (QU) Health Interprofessional Education (IPE) Committee, the Interprofessional Education Students’ Association in Qatar collaborates with Saint Louis University (SLU) to host the second international virtual debate with the motion ‘governments should temporarily restrict international tourism in response to the second wave of Covid-19 transmission.’

The event was virtual and lasted for two hours. The event had over 700 views on (QU) YouTube channel and WebEx platform. The event started with an overview of the association’s vision, mission and activities presented by the Vice President of the IPE Student Association and QU third professional year pharmacy student Ms. Halima Saadia.

QU Vice President for Medical and Health Sciences and Dean of the College of Medicine (CMED) Dr. Egon Toft welcomed the audience, participants, and judges. He expressed his pleasure of having these debates and stated that, “We are very proud of the IPE association and the work it has accomplished this year. It is a great initiative to have this debate going global. The topic discussed is crucial to understand and see different perspectives in students regarding Covid-19. There are new data every week regarding Covid-19. Things seem to get better, or things fall behind; therefore, it is imperative to see everything from different angles. I congratulate the IPE Association, a community of healthcare students dedicated to the cause of serving the public and advancing medical and health knowledge.”

Dr. Tricia Austin, Interim Dean of SLU’s Doisy College of Health Sciences, warmly welcomed all participants, judges and attendees. She shared her gratitude for the organization of the debate and the importance of such event in the current period. She also thanked the participants for their willingness to participate in this critical topic that touches lives and the eagerness to be part of the IPE event, as this reflects our understanding of the important role each discipline holds and the benefit each discipline brings to the table.

“The virtual IPE debate is a wonderful opportunity for students to debate topics that have high salience across healthcare disciplines and cultures. We are very grateful to be included in such an event that permits students to engage in skills and critical thinking necessary to provide optimal future care”, she added.

The debate was moderated by the former president of the IPE Student Association Sawsan AlMukdad. Members of the affirmative side from Qatar included QU Pharmacy student Rouaa Elhani, QU Medical student Ahmed Daniyal Nawaz, and University of Calgary- Qatar (UCQ) Nursing student Dianne Bautista. Members of the negative team from the US included SLU Public Health Phd Candidate Kemba Noel-London, SLU Athletic Training student Eldwin Neritani, and SLU Public Health student Lauren Fox. The debate followed a format where each student was given 5 minutes for a speech, a 2-minute caucus and a chance for a cross examination from the opposing team. The audience were allowed to ask questions directed to the teams after the debate and the judges gave their recommendations and feedback for both teams.

The winning team was determined after receiving the votes from both the judges (70%) and the audience (30%). The judges included QU College of Pharmacy (CPH) Associate Professor of Pathophysiology & Pharmacology, and the Acting Section Head of Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Fatima Mraiche, SLU Associate Professor in Family and Community Medicine, and Director of the Center for Interprofessional Education and Research Dr. David Pole, and the editor-in-Chief of the international Journal of Interprofessional Care, and Board member of CAIPE, United Kingdom Dr. Andreas Xyrichis. The affirmative team from Qatar was announced the winner at the end of the debate.

As both sides comprise an interprofessional team, the debate contest opened an opportunity to observe the perspectives of various healthcare students, and allowed the participants to widen their knowledge on different issues concerning the COVID-19 pandemic through reliable data and evidence-based research. QU-CPH Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and QU Health Chair of Interprofessional Education program Dr. Alla El-Awaisi, in her concluding remarks, commended both teams for representing their countries well and congratulated the Qatar team for winning. She said, “We are honored to collaborate with Saint Louis University in this interprofessional international debate. Thanks to the two brilliant teams from Qatar and the USA for their effective participation. Debating is very important for students in general and healthcare students, in particular, to help them develop essential skills of critical and quick thinking to make a reasoned argument based on evidence that can be questioned! Both teams prepared and did very well despite the distances. Congratulations to all”.

SLU Interim Chair of Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and Director of Athletic Training Program Professor Dr. Anthony Breitbach made the closing remarks saying: “We appreciate Qatar University and their IPE student organization for coordinating such a great event. It is opportunities such as these that help our students grow across cultures with a better understanding of how important issues impact people, healthcare and the world”.

Dianne Bautista, Qatar team member who was on Affirmative side, mentioned “This was such a great learning experience, and I am truly grateful for being a part of this debate. Working together with fellow students from different fields and different universities really brought out the best of my abilities and helped me learn a lot about the topic at hand. The motion was very timely, and it helped us engage our minds to really study the contents related to the topic. The support from the audience was great and I am thankful for the people who gave their time to join this occasion and to give their views on the motion as well. For both teams, I believe we gave it our best and I hope to work with these amazing people in the future. Thank you, IPE, for this wonderful opportunity. Congratulations to everyone!”

Kemba Noel-London, US team member who had the Negative argument, expressed “From the student perspective, it was a great experience particularly since most of my team had no debate experience prior. We dove in eager to engage with process and learnt a tremendous amount along the way. Hopefully it's an event that can be continued as the relationship between SLU and QU continues to grow, as it is easy to see how debate gives healthcare students a lot of transferable skills. I feel hyper prepared for my dissertation defence now after those cross examinations!”

Vice President of the IPE Student Association Ms. Halima Saadia stated “We are pleased to have hosted this International IPE debate between Qatar and Saint Louis University- United States. Our association aims to mediate collaboration between the healthcare students not only nationally, but internationally as well. The main aim of our debate events is to give healthcare students an opportunity to use critical thinking and evidence to present their arguments effectively. This not only enhances the students’ communication skills but research skills as well. Both teams put in a lot of effort to prepare for this debate, which was evident from the arguments and evidence presented. I hope this was a good learning experience for everyone. Our association looks forward to having more collaborations and opportunities to debate with other teams from all around the world. Lastly, I am proud of the event organizing team for pulling off a great event!”