Teachers’ Guide: How To Build A Medical Society
At The Medic Portal, we have had the privilege of both observing and contributing to a large number of school Medical Societies over the last few years.
Medical Societies can provide an invaluable resource for students when structured well. This Teachers’ Guide to building a medical society is designed to advise you how to do just that.
What Are The Aims Of A School Medical Society?
This is the first question that needs to be answered and will guide everything you do. We believe these aims are:
- To generate an interest in Medicine so students can learn what it’s all about before deciding whether to go ahead and apply.
- To help students plan their approach to the Medical School application process and navigate their way through in a supportive environment.
- To provide a platform where students can share ideas and concerns around challenging medical topics, such as Ethics and NHS Hot Topics.
- To pool teacher and student resources to allow coverage of key areas, such as medical school entry requirements
- To work on some of the key skills required to be a medic, such as organisational ability, leadership and presentation skills
- To develop students’ ability to review research papers and begin to understand the concept of evidence based medicine
What Makes A Great School Medical Society?
Having been invited into a great many Medical Societies, we have developed a checklist of traits that make the best ones stand out. See if you can incorporate them into yours:
- Having a teacher who is in charge of overseeing the Medical Society and who selects an annual Medsoc committee formed of proactive students.
- Having a schedule outlined at the start of each term with a list of sessions to be put on and topics to be covered.
- Using diverse learning methods, ranging from outside speakers, to student-led presentations, to journal club reviews and debating sessions.
- Ensuring that meetings happen with regularity, preferably once a week, in order to create and maintain buzz and momentum.
- Allowing each session to be student led, and thereby giving students room to develop the concept of Problem-Based Learning.
- Keeping up-to-date with NHS Hot Topics and debating them in the society; this can be done using our updates and blogs as a starting point.
What Topics Could Your School Medical Society Cover?
Divide the UK Medical Schools up between the pupils in your Medical Society. Ask them to do presentations on their allocated Medical Schools. These should include:
- Course Structure
- Teaching Hospitals
- Entry requirements
- Interview Style
- Gather current student feedback
This will help everyone in the group get a clear understanding of what each institution has to offer. And since the presentations are done by students, they will tease out the points they find most important.
Here are some other suggestions of ways to make the most of your Medical Society sessions:
- Once a month, ask a group of students to do a presentation on an NHS Hot Topic in the news
- Aim to practice ethical scenarios at every meeting. This might take the form of a 10-minute debate, where half of the students take one side of the debate, and the rest look at the opposite perspective. They should then debate the scenario, focusing on the 4 pillars of medical ethics.
- You should ensure that students are fully aware of Tomorrow’s Doctors, written by the GMC. A good way to do this is to ask students to summarise individual chapters and present them to the group.
- Studying medicine in Europe is becoming a genuine option for more and more students now. Dividing up the society and asking students to look into viable options in specific countries which offer English speaking courses is a very good use of time.
- Outside speakers offer an invaluable resource and provide fresh perspectives. You can ask doctor parents or medical figureheads from the local area. The Medic Portal often visits schools and talk to students.
- Students should keep a reflective diary of all their experiences and achievements. They can do this for free on The Medic Portal. By asking students to present extracts from this, you can ensure they are keeping up to date and make sure they are on track.
- Creating a monthly Journal Club, in which original research is critiqued by students, can help develop students’ critical faculties and work on talking points for interview.
- The Medical Society is a great chance to develop students’ team work — a key trait when applying for medical school. Use common team-building exercises, like those outlined here. During another session, ask students to write down as many Allied Healthcare professions as they can, and the role those professions play in a Multidisciplinary Team
One teacher on starting a Sixth Form Medical Society:
“A few years ago, I started a sixth form medical society. The idea was to allow them to share their common interest through regular meetings. Pupils took on some of the responsibility for arranging events which have included trips, talks and workshops. Gradually the society has developed and is now become a hub that I use to provide support for their applications.
Although primarily a sixth form society, there is no doubt that starting early helps prepare them and reduces the pressure at the end of year 12, so I encourage interested pupils to attend meetings in year 10 and 11. We still host speakers from various specialisms and institutions, however, there are events over the year aimed at helping them in each of the key aspects of their application from choosing a medical school to writing their personal statements.”
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