When I made the decision to apply for Medsin Vice-Coordinator I suspected, in an unarticulated and almost subconscious way (indeed this is the same form most of my inclinations normally arise) that this would mark a significant diversion in my student life. The Medsin fit was too good to be true, bringing together my natural instincts of social justice, equity and active citizenship, under the unifying banner of health.
In my role, I’m in the privileged position of interacting and supporting our branches and regional teams on a day-to-day basis. Through this, I see the massive difference branches make, from delivering empowering global health education to their members, effecting change in medical school curricula, to making a real impact in local communities.
Integration of Medsin’s education, advocacy and action is key. We need to make a conscious and active effort to link these strands. An educational event should be used as a stimulus to advocate and act on what we learn. This can present in forms of follow-up actions, such as signing a petition or writing a letter to your MP, or subsequent meetings of individuals who feel a spark and what to take these issues further. Similarly, when launching a campaign an essential component should be education of our peers to mobilise and recruit to our cause. We educate our peers, we become informed and we become active.
Medsin is a diverse organization. We have 30 branches and many different activities, working in their own way and on their own niche area. As vice-coordinator I’ve been asked more than a few times, what is Medsin? How can we explain how Medsin fits together at a local level?
Often, different student global health groups don’t talk to each, nor work together and sometimes even compete. This is despite working towards a common goal of health equity. This is similar to challenges seen in the global health generally. Public health experts, academics, policy-makers work on their own discrete area and rarely move out of this comfort zone. We know that to truly tackle health inequity we need an integrated and collaborative approach. I think this is equally true in Medsin.
Medsin should be a local network, acting as an integrated global health hub, an umbrella organization that brings together all local groups working to tackle health inequities. In this way, Medsin can act as a coordinator and facilitator, providing support, publicity and solidarity to our activities and local partners.
As part of this vision, we need to expand and increase our focus to other groups of students. We need to emphasise that, despite our name, we are not just for medics. Medsin members can support each other’s projects and campaigns, publicising actions and events and increasing our capacity to make an impact. We should strive for all impassioned global health advocates to move across Medsin in a way that they can significantly contribute to our range of campaigns.
By bringing together our network we can achieve great things. Just last month Medsin organised an open letter from medical students to David Cameron. In 36 hours, we collected the signatures of 2,500 medical students. That is incredible. And for me this demonstrates the potential of Medsin – if we come together as one.