The start of the year for branches

Posted by Layth Hanbali

Wed, 7 Oct 2015

I am the Medsin National Director - a very exciting privilege. When not doing Medsin, I'm doing Medicine at UCL or cooking. Prior to this year, I have been Regional Coordinator and UCL Branch President. Always feel free to get in touch -

I’m on an early train back from Liverpool, having spoken at Medsin Liverpool’s first event of the year last night. Liverpool was Branch number 5 in a very-mini-tour of a few Medsin Branches. Bristol committee was the very generous host of National Committee for our first meeting; I visited KCL at their freshers’ fair, and have spoken at Sheffield’s, Leeds’ and Liverpool’s first events of the year. I will be speaking at UCL tomorrow, and at Royal Veterinary College, our newest Branch, on Saturday.

Each of my brief visits so far highlighted so strongly why Medsin matters and why its members are so inspiring, and reinvigorated my huge enthusiasm for the National Director role that you have entrusted me with. Making these visits has also made me miss local work so much – that’s where it all starts, and without it there is no Medsin. So if you work at the local level of Medsin, well done for keeping Medsin going, taking more confident strides each day, even 20 years on. If you do not work at the local of Medsin, and have a spare hour here and there, what are you waiting for?!

Another thing I have learnt is how to answer the question: “where do we go from here?” You have had your first event of the year, you’ve had a good turnout and lots of keen beans, what do you do next? There are a few needs here:

  • Retain those who came to your first events
  • Develop your local Branch to do more (e.g. more advocacy, more high-level education, training)
  • Build a hype around your Branch and your work

Much of this is dependent on one simple but difficult thing: allowing your new members to take ownership of the Branch. Your next challenge is to allow your attendees to transition from passive recipients of the information that you give them, to members who are able to direct Medsin. From my observations at several Branches, and experiences of work at the local level, here are some ways I think you could do that:

Talk to your members. At the end of an event, your committee should not huddle together in a circle to celebrate, it should disperse into the crowd as soon as the event ends and talk to the attendees. This allows:

  • You to get to know your members, their interests and where they want the Branch to go.
  • Your members to get to know you and each other, and therefore feel much more part of the local Medsin community.

Make your members feel like they are Medsin.

  • We are often unsure about “where to go next”. There is a simple way to get answers to that question: ask the people you want to engage in your next thing, your members.
  • If someone is coming to every event you put on, they are a member of next year’s committee until proven otherwise. But why wait till then?! If you need support running an event or project, ask for their help!
  • If a member comes up with an idea, don’t give the existing committee a job to do; allow the person who came up with the idea to implement their own idea. Obviously give them support and guidance, but let them do it!

Obviously that’s not all that you can do, but these things are a good starting point in your development. I hope you find this advice useful. What has worked for your branch? Did these things work or have you done other things that have worked? Share your ideas with other members, it’s likely that we are all looking for answers to the same questions!

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