How to Set Up a Student Medical Society
Running a medical society for your college or school is a really good opportunity – not only can you put it on your personal statement, but it’s also an excellent way to meet other students also applying for medicine and compare your experiences.
1. Get in touch
Before setting up the society, try to check with the teachers in your Biology or Chemistry departments to see if there have been any similar societies running in the past – it may be your teachers have some resources that you can use or have ideas to help you out.
Local Medical Societies
After that, try getting in touch with the medical society of your local medical school or any other related societies from local universities. They may be able to help you with contacts for organising talks or work experience, for example, or they could come and deliver a talk at your sixth form or college.
Charities and Volunteer Projects
You could try contacting medical volunteering projects such as St John’s Ambulance or Teddy Bear Clinics, outreach programs such as Target Medicine, or charities such as Cancer Research UK or the British Heart Foundation. If it’s vaguely medical, shoot them an email- the worst they can do is ignore you, and even if they aren’t the appropriate people, they may forward your contact on to someone that can help you in creating events for your society.
If you’re particularly keen to help other students get work experience or get involved with their local area, try contacting your local hospital, GP surgery or volunteering projects to see if they have any space for students, and work out whether you could establish a long term partnership.
Some of the more professional bodies you may wish to contact for speakers or advice include the Royal Colleges (specific organisations for each medical specialty), the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal Society of Medicine or the General Medical Council (GMC).
2. Establish what you want to do
Establishing what sort of events and opportunities you’d like to offer is really important.
Perhaps you’d like to focus more on the up-and-coming research and development within medicine and would like to organise talks about journal papers or invite local researchers in to present their work. Perhaps you could focus on helping your members work on their personal statements and applications, or helping students to organise work experience and run mock interviews.
Once you know what you want to do, you can then focus on getting materials and contacts in place. Local researchers may be available to talk about their work, so it may be worth contacting the heads of research departments to establish if there’s anyone appropriate. Students in particular may be keen to present their work as they can then use that teaching experience for their CV – so contacting local medical societies or asking research departments if a junior would be available may be useful.
3. Start advertising your medical society
It can be tempting not to advertise your medical society until you have events and resources in place, but the earlier you get others involved, the smoother the organising process will be. Getting a staff member involved to help with promoting and contacting other people may be of use.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other departments either – remember not all potentially interested people will be within the science departments, and just because someone is not applying for medical school at the same time as you doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from your work.
4. Look out for opportunities you can offer
Offering to help get other students involved in volunteering, research or work experience is a really valuable tool. It will encourage other students to get involved in your society and you can always use those opportunities for yourself as well as others to boost your own application.
Getting your peers to talk about their experiences with extra-curricular work may be of benefit as well – perhaps they saw something amazing in their local hospital, or got involved with a project that would be of interest.
Words: Katie Hodgkinson