What can students actually do? Why I became National Secretary

Posted by Matt Quinn

Thu, 10 Mar 2016

Matt is currently National Secretary for Medsin-UK and and an intercalating student in Global Health at Imperial College. Contact him at

What can students actually do? Isn’t our role just to learn so we can be useful in the future?”

For me this was the question that made everything click. I was chatting to a group of medical students from around the world when it was posed as part of a conversation on the role of students in Global Health. I realised, to my mild surprise, that this was a question I could answer, and that this was because of my time with Medsin. 

Global Health, Let’s take Action  

A passion for Global Health is a wonderful thing. It provides you with a focus, a drive and an endless source of inspiration, and of course plenty of inevitable delicious frustration.  

That being said, a passion is limited unless you use it to take action on the things you care about. Global Health, as far as we can pin such a broad concept into a single term, is not a passive process – it is something driven by the people who engage, whether that be governments, industry or civil society organisations.

This is a call for you to make use of your passion in order to achieve meaningful change on the issues you care about. Whether it be access to medicines, trade and health or widening participation in medical education, there are so many ways available for you to engage and do something to channel your passion alongside your studies.

For me, one of the most effective ways I felt I could make an active difference was by helping to link the passion of my student colleagues to the causes they care about. This is precisely what Medsin-UK is for, and was a big part of the reason I joined National Committee as Secretary at the start of this year.

Why Secretary?

As Secretary I’ve had the privilege of being involved in a little bit of everything which has been going on within Medsin. This broad perspective has given me an insight into all of Medsin’s successes – everything from our statement on the Junior Doctors Contracts and putting together policy to the commitment and work which went into putting together our two amazing conferences.

My day usually involves responding to the needs of people throughout the Medsin, whether that be by emails or online meetings. These usually encompass a broad range of topics – from discussions concerning big event organisation and newsletter assembly to broader meetings of the National Committee.

Through my role I’ve helped to keep Medsin transparent by assisting in organising our General Assemblies, and worked to keep the National Committee accountable to our members. Keeping track of these processes is challenging, but it is a vital of our existence as a democratic organisation.

Most importantly I’ve learnt that you don’t have to be a Medsin veteran to get involved. I came to the National Committee fresh from my time as part of my local branch of Friends of MSF Leicester – Not directly related but still very Global Health. I was incredibly well supported throughout my handover, and this gave me a great platform to develop my knowledge of one of the most dynamic, student-led organisations in the UK. 

If you care about Global Health I would seriously recommend you consider getting involved. I’ve never had as many opportunities take action on the subject I love, and to help others do the same, as I have during my time with Medsin, and I hope that this continues well into the future. 


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