29 April, 2016
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At no other time has leadership within the medical profession been more crucial. With the health system becoming increasingly under more scrutiny from the government and the public, doctors have had to act far more as leaders and health advocates than they have ever had to before. Doctors are in leadership positions daily - in charge of the wards that they run, teaching younger colleagues and students, and also having increasingly more input into the business side of the medical world.
The forefront of ‘visible’ leadership at medical school is arguably participation within the medical societies. Leadership positions in these voluntary organisations provide medical students with real experience in team management, time management, business planning, strategising, policy development, project implementation and evaluation, public speaking, negotiation, and professional relationship building. These skills are not actively, or passively, taught during the entirety of the medical curriculum, even though they all have immediate relevance to clinical practice.
The intrinsic benefits you get from being involved, listed just above, are so crucial in your medical student years! This is a time where you find a professional identity for yourself, and you really start learning about all of the challenges that are involved in medical leadership. Some of the challenges you face within your medical society are some of the greatest that you will come across in medical school, but they grow you immeasurably as a person and as a clinician. The time commitment is irrelevant – the benefits far exceed the negatives – and you will always work harder to fit your studies in too, which is another fantastic skill to have.
With regards to some of the more ‘external’ benefits that you may receive from these positions is that you will first and foremost be doing a great service for your colleagues, and you will be able to gain their trust and friendship. Your relationships with academics and professionals will improve drastically as you converse with them about medical topics, business issues, and student advocacy points. You will get much better known quickly and have access to lots of high-performing doctors! Thus, networking is a huge benefit of being involved in your medical/surgical society.
There are so many options as to where you can be involved – whether that is in your medical society, on a student representative council, your health/rural club, or your surgical society. There are vast possibilities available to you! One key piece of advice that I’d relate to you know, is that you MUST not ‘slacken’ off in your position, seemingly there to just occupy a position and take the prestige. Students and doctors alike can recognise this from a mile off, and it won’t be tolerated. Keep dreaming of achievement, keeping aiming for the top… and become a leader in your cohort!