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Taking part in the BMA committee visitors scheme

Claudia Davies is a medical student who visited BMA Medical students' committee (MSC)Claudia Davies 16x9

Why did you take part in the BMA committee visitors scheme and what were you hoping to get out of it?

I had briefly been to the medical students conference, and also attended the ARM (annual representatives meeting), so was interested in what the BMA did, and considered being the UCL (University College London) representative to MSC.

Before standing for election I wanted to find out more about what was involved, such as what happens at meetings, how everything works, and ultimately if I should get involved. I didn’t know enough about being on a committee at the BMA, so the scheme seemed like a great way to dip my toe in to the MSC water before taking the plunge and committing.

Has participating as a visitor helped you understand the processes of the committee and how the BMA works in general?

Definitely, I learned how meetings are run and what happens during them, how action points from the meetings are followed up, which people are in charge of the committee, and who does what. If I had a question, even if it was really obvious, the members of the committee were happy to answer it.

I saw that the committees of the BMA are quite interlinked, so I learned about other committees too.

During your time as a visitor do you feel you were made to feel part of the committee?

To the appropriate extent, in that I was welcome as an observer and able to make contributions, but if there had been a vote I wouldn’t have been able to take part in it. I was able to talk to committee members during the breaks, so I felt very welcome.

What would you say were your best experiences as a committee visitor?

My best experience was taking part in a workshop and discussion on the introduction of a national exam.

The group work involved trying to think of our own questions for it. Beforehand the people from the examining board had given a talk to us, and at the end they took our feedback with them. I liked the participation, feedback and hands-on elements of this, and how I could see that what we were doing may actually make a difference, albeit a small one.

After your experience, did you consider applying for a formal role on the committee? If not, could you tell why? If so, were you successful?

Taking part in the scheme encouraged me to nominate myself as the UCL representative, and I was successful!

The scheme gave me the confidence to nominate myself, and not feel disingenuous, which I think I would have done had I stood without any committee experience. I’m looking forward to receiving some training once the committee session gets underway, and contributing more to the committee’s work.

Would you recommend the scheme to other BMA members who may not have taken part in committee work before?

Definitely! It’s a great way try out the committee system, and to see if it is something that you would like to be a part of. It was also a pretty fun day. Anyone interested in getting involved with the BMA should try it.

 

Sally Johnston is a GP who visited BMA GP's committee (GPC)

Why did you take part in the BMA committee visitors scheme and what were you hoping to get out of it?

I was interested in seeing what GPC did. I am an LMC (local medical committee) chair, but I wanted to see the national interface, and the wider picture – how, as doctors, we can influence national policy.

I thought that the scheme would also help me become more informed about what was involved in being a member of GPC, and I also thought that taking this step would be good for my personal development.

In particular I wanted to develop my chairing skills, so thought that attending GPC would be a brilliant chance to learn more.

Has participating as a visitor helped you understand the processes of the committee and how the BMA works in general?

Yes, pretty well, although the BMA can be quite labyrinthine!

During your time as a visitor do you feel you were made to feel part of the committee?

Yes, I was made to feel very welcome. I travelled to London with my regional representative on GPC so it was really great that there was someone that I already knew.

There were also a few people that I knew from the LMC conference at the meetings as well. Everyone there was nice, including the chair and executive members of the committee. I enjoyed networking at lunches, although I understand that communal lunches are currently under review.

What would you say were your best experiences as a committee visitor?

It was all great, but if I had to pick one experience that was my favourite, it would be my visits to the commissioning and service development subcommittee of GPC.

The work the subcommittee was doing was very relevant to what is going on in my local area, so it was really interesting to see the development of national policy. The smaller group and more focused debate among individuals highly interested in the field was relevant to take back to my local area.

Overall, how has participating as a visitor benefited you and your medico-political career?

Being part of the scheme has really benefited my personal development, and it has been very informative. It has been especially helpful in giving me confidence, and makes me feel more able in my role within the BMA now.

I feel like I can take the experience that I’ve gained at national level and use it to help at local level. The scheme importantly gave me the confidence to stand for election to GPC at the LMC conference, and it wasn’t such a daunting prospect as it would have been.

Based on your experience, did you consider applying for a formal role on the committee? If not, could you tell why? If so, were you successful?

I stood for election to GPC at the LMC, and I was elected! I am also on the commissioning and development subcommittee that I had visited.

Would you recommend the scheme to other BMA members that may not have taken part in committee work before?

Definitely, yes!

 

Irfan Sabih is an associate specialist who visited the BMA Staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors committee (SASC)

Irfan Sabih

What interested you in taking part in the BMA committee visitors scheme? What were you hoping to get out of it?

I was involved with an LNC (local negotiating committee) and attending some regional BMA meetings when I received an email about the scheme. As I was dealing with regional issues, it seemed like a great opportunity to see what it was like working on policies for SAS doctors at a national level.

Has participating as a visitor helped you understand the processes of the committee and how the BMA works in general?

I wasn’t expecting it to be so well organised! I could see how policies were formed and addressed, which was a great experience. I didn’t realise it, but the committee dealt with matters across the medical spectrum, not just SAS issues. It went some way to showing me that we, as SAS doctors, do have an input and say into matters – we are recognised.

I also saw how the BMA inputs into the SAS committee meetings. The chair of UK council was there for most of the meetings that I attended, along with representatives of other branch of practice committees.

During your time as a visitor do you feel you were made to feel part of the committee?

Yes, everyone was very welcoming to me. If I wanted to contribute I was given the same respect as senior members, my view was heard and a healthy discussion took place. I felt like a worthwhile member.

At the meetings I met representatives from different regions, who were good to talk to about policies that could be effecting my regional in the future. I was also able to participate between committee meetings on the email listserver by exchanging views on issues as they arose.

What would you say were your best experiences as a committee visitor?

I really enjoyed being part of the discussion on national issues, such as contributing to the discussion on raising the profile of SAS doctors. It would be good for managers to attend a BMA event that shows off their contributions.

Overall, how has participating as a visitor benefited you and your medico-political career?

It was a great experience for helping to work effectively and productively in my region, and it inspired me more to make a difference.

Based on your experience as a visitor, did you consider applying for a formal role on the committee? If not, could you tell why? If so, were you successful?

An important thing that my experience as a visitor showed me was that involvement at that level needs a certain level of free time. With all of my clinical commitments I couldn’t justify the commitment it would take if I stood for election and became a member of the committee, so I decided not to. The visitors scheme helped me reach that decision.

Would you recommend the scheme to other BMA members who may not have taken part in committee work before?

Yes, certainly. It was very useful and helpful in showing me how the BMA and SASC work at the national level, and I have been able to take what I have learned there and apply it at regional level and even in my hospital. I would recommend it to anyone who has not been involved at national level before.