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What do you do there? Does it even change anything?!
All questions I was asked when I told people I was going to JDC (and many other BMA events). In short, it’s motivating, energising and engaging. It’s easy to get disheartened in the daily grind; morale is at an all-time low, and we all love a good moan – but what about making those moans into actions?
I’m currently an FY1 in the West Midlands, and I attended the JDC for the first time this year. I thoroughly enjoyed it – everyone was very friendly and welcoming. It was a perfect mixture of inviting and encouraging, whilst having enough substantial debate to leave you feeling motivated and challenged at the end of it.
On the afternoon before, a grassroots seminar for first-time attendees gives you an opportunity to meet other first timers and learn how to write a motion. Two of the motions from this session will go on to be debated during the conference. From what I heard from those who attended, it seemed to have been very successful.
This wasn’t my first BMA event – I have attended two medical student conferences, one ARM and one junior members forum, so not a complete novice! When I first attended BMA conferences they seemed really formal and I had no idea when to speak. But the JDC is a lot more relaxed. The introduction on the day was very thorough, so even if you’ve never been to a BMA conference and you aren’t able to attend the grassroots session, you can easily follow what’s happening. The atmosphere means it’s not daunting.
I think the JDC is a great first-time conference as everyone is friendly and hugely passionate. There was a high calibre of debate and excellent speeches from people throughout the day. The debates were informative and thought-provoking. I felt moved and empowered hearing some of the speeches. Two speeches stood out for me. Firstly, one that we can all relate to, was a motion submitted proposing accepting the new contract. This was extremely controversial. Those against it gave stirring, fiery speeches, however, the debate was positive and every person was listened to and respected. This reinforced to me how safe this space is; no matter how passionate members are, respect overrides it all. On a more personal note, the proposer of a motion on support for medics who are victims of domestic violence spoke eloquently and powerfully. The audience was so supportive of the motion and of those who spoke for it. That was moving for me, however, there were multiple other occasions where members were moved to tears and the support from the room was palpable.
Of course, there’s a social afterwards. Junior doctors know how to let their hair down! There is good food, drinks and cheesy music guaranteed. It’s a great way to meet people.
It’s very easy to get disheartened with the everyday. Attending these events reminds me how hard doctors are working to improve our work life and our patients’ safety. You can go back and talk about the impact we are having.Learn more about this year's junior doctors conference
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