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This is the time of year when there’s a lot going on for junior doctors – a time of transition and change. It’s also the time of year when we elect new members of our RJDCs (regional junior doctors committees) and JDC (junior doctors committee).
Joining either one or both of these committees gives you exciting opportunities to represent, lead and effect change in your working environment. There are diverse roles for those who have varying amounts of time to give. Elections in England this year will all be online, and you will receive an email with details of how you can nominate yourself and vote for others in your RJDC.
We have committed to a shared timetable for elections, but each RJDC is run slightly differently, so you should look at the information provided from each one.
Voting in the elections is vital, even if you don’t want to run yourself. It is the democratic process at a fundamental level – you’re voting for people who most represent your opinions, to then push that agenda regionally or nationally. It’s how you exercise your will on the national agenda.
Those who are elected have the mandate to create the change they think needs to be made, to make new friends, do and experience things that are almost unheard of for your typical junior doctor.
Two years ago I was not involved with the BMA; I had some LNC (local negotiating committee) experience as a rep but little else. Then, at this time of year, the then-RJDC chair suggested that I should run for the role.
So I did, and somehow I was voted as chair. I then spent a year modernising my committee and bringing it to where I thought it should be. I learnt new skills, met new people, but focused on my RJDC.
This time last year, I had a conversation with someone who suggested I consider running for NRJDC (national regional junior doctors committee) chair, as my work at a regional level had been noticed – they thought I could replicate that at a national level. So I ran, and somehow I was voted NRJDC chair.
Then, with guidance from more experienced people on my committee and the excellent JDC staff, I took on multiple workstreams and journeys into rooms negotiating with senior civil servants, which have effected positive change for my colleagues, most notably the implementation of the £10m funding for the fatigue and facilities charter, and the contract review.
You don’t have to follow my path. You don’t have to be anything other than a normal junior doctor – you simply have to be interested in improving things for yourself and others. If you are, there’s a place for you in an RJDC or JDC.
Being involved with the JDC has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced; it has helped me to develop into a far better, more well-rounded person for the exposure and experience. It can be for you too.
So consider putting yourself forward for your RJDC or JDC and see where the journey takes you.
Rowan Gossedge is East of England RJDC chair and national regional junior doctors committee chair
Find out more about RJDC election in England.