Student association presidents discuss the sustainability issues facing their industries and the highs and lows for students across the country.



Charlotte Kenny

2018 NZDSA President
New Zealand Dental Students’ Association


If you could change one thing to make the dentistry industry more sustainable, what would it be and why?

One aspect of dentistry that doesn’t always sit well with me is the amount of plastic waste it produces. As practitioners, the ethical principles of beneficence and non-maleficence guide our patient-orientated practice. Figuring out how to balance the necessary sanitation and protection guidelines when administering treatment, while being environmentally mindful, is a challenge. But any step towards reducing the environmental impact of disposables used in dental procedures is a step in the right direction.

How do you see issues of sustainability and climate change affecting the industry?

With the increasing global focus on carbon footprints and sustainable goals, the practice of dentistry must be ethical not only in the prevention of oral disease and promotion of health but also in providing accessible and affordable care with minimal environmental impact. To integrate sustainability into the field of dentistry would require a commitment from not only the profession but all associated stakeholders, such as governments, researchers, manufacturers, and distributors.

What has been the biggest challenge for dentistry students in the first quarter?

The first quarter of the academic year has flown by and with it the usual nervous anticipation as to what this year will entail. As students piece together their timetables, calendar their course requirements, and get to know their clinical tutors, they relax and find their feet for a promising year ahead.

What has been the highlight?

It has been exciting to welcome our new cohorts into the dental school as well as reconnect with old friends at dental social events. We would like to thank MAS for their continued sponsorship, contributing to not only these social events but also our academic endeavours.



Alistair Eddie

2018 MUVSA President
Massey University Veterinary Students' Association

If you could change one thing to make the veterinary industry more sustainable, what would it be and why?

Current veterinarians and our future vets need to find ways to minimise our impact on the environment. There is already quite a bit of discussion amongst some practitioners about ways to increase sustainability, but not everyone is on board, and at this stage, our current curriculum doesn’t address this topic. There definitely needs to be a change in mindset to bring sustainability
to the forefront of everyone’s operational thinking.

How do you see issues of sustainability and climate change affecting the industry?

Climate change is impacting farming practices and is important from a veterinary perspective. Parasites that were unable to thrive in colder areas are now able to move into those regions. There is also the potential that we may get new disease vectors being able to move into regions that were previously protected by their climate. This means both veterinarians and farmers have to be more vigilant and prepared to tackle novel diseases.

What has been the biggest challenge for the veterinary faculty in the first quarter?

For the majority of students, it is business as usual, with the dreaded spectre of exams looming in June. For the pre-vets hoping to secure a spot in the veterinary programme, the weekend of 21 and 22 of April would have been exceptionally challenging. They attended interviews and completed numerous other tests and activities that provide input into their application, over and above their grades. At the other end of the degree, the fifth years are quite a way into their final year. From the discussions I’ve had with a few of them, they are relishing the challenges of seeing real veterinary practice, and finally seeing the fruition of four years of predominantly theory-based learning.

What has been the biggest highlight?

It’s always good to end on a positive note. The veterinary programme at Massey has once again won worldwide recognition. The school is ranked in the top 25 by QS World University subject rankings, which is really good news for our current student body and will stand us in good stead for our future prospective careers.



Jibi Kunnethedam

2018 NZMSA President
New Zealand Medical Students' Association


How do you see issues of sustainability and climate change affecting the industry?

Climate change and sustainability are closely intertwined with the healthcare industry. Our climate and environment shapes our lives and directly impacts our health. The correlation that we see between the lifestyles and environmental exposures of our patients in relation to their associated health conditions is a testament to this. I can see our action (or inaction) on climate change today determining the ability of our health systems to serve our purpose in the near future. The Lancet describes climate change as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century; ignoring this sentiment would be funding our ignorance. Our awareness as future health professionals on this issue is crucial, as proactive stewardship is required for our industry to be prepared in facing the challenges that we will encounter both locally and globally. Waiting to be reactive on this issue may overwhelm our capacity to cope. Taking action to be a more sustainable industry and addressing climate change is orientating ourselves towards improving the health of each and every one of us.

What has been the biggest challenge for the medical faculty in the first quarter?

For NZMSA, our biggest challenge in the past quarter has been communicating with the new government in regard to the promises that were made during the election campaigns of 2017. The Labour Party’s promises in regards to abolishing the student loan cap affecting some of our postgraduate students to complete their studies have yet to be fulfilled. We are currently awaiting this year’s Budget announcement with bated breath, as we hope to see these promises come to fruition.

What has been the biggest highlight?

Our annual national conference has once again been a wonderful weekend of inspiration and celebration. This event would have not been possible without the support of MAS, who were our Diamond sponsors, and the student body are incredibly grateful to MAS for their role in making this weekend a success!

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