The SMSC (Scottish medical students committee) represents and acts on issues relevant to medical students in Scotland. We also campaign on behalf of our constituents on a variety of issues, including education, finance and welfare.
We report to the BMA Scottish council and the MSC (medical students committee), who we work with closely on behalf of medical students across the UK.
Medical education has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic with restrictions made on clinical placement time and adaptations made to the medical curriculum.
A lot of students have seen a decrease in clinical placement time and lectures being provided online through remote learning. SMSC are aware of the impact that this is having on mental health. We are ensuring that students are supported and represented as much as possible through this difficult time.
SMSC has written to medical school deans on various occasions during the year to get reassurance on the changes made to examinations and medical education and the education being provided is as close to the norm as possible. We will continue to engage with our respective medical schools to gain more clarity on the matter.
Student welfare in medical school
The pressurised situations and responsibilities that medical students will experience while studying can be uniquely stressful and can contribute to mental health problems. It is essential that medical students are well-supported during their time at university and that assistance and advice are readily available.
This year the pressures have become increasingly difficult with rapid changes being made to teaching and examinations. This has had a detrimental effect on all students.
SMSC have been supporting students through this as much as possible through engaging with our deans. In particular, for international medical students and new freshers who may find the time even more difficult with the lack of opportunity to make friends due to the COVID-19 guidelines.
SMSC will be engaging with organisations to discuss the unique mental health concerns of medical students and to gauge whether there is opportunity for more counselling services to be made available within medical schools.
The BMA also provides confidential support and counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It’s important that students are aware of the financial support available to them. SMSC have published a finance guide, which is updated annually, to help medical students in Scotland feel informed about the loans, grants and bursaries available to them.
SMSC continues to push for clarity on all student expenses (for example, understanding the cost of placements and being fully informed of reimbursement policies) and transparency of funding.
SMSC believes that students from all backgrounds should be able to study medicine, and supports the implementation of the recommendations made by the Commission on Widening Access’ (CoWA) final report: A Blueprint for Fairness.
While the committee supports the work of the Scottish Government and universities to implement initiatives to reach more students from diverse backgrounds, the committee continues to push for more to be done.
SMSC have published a booklet titled ‘Have you thought about studying medicine', which details the basics of how to apply to study medicine – what you need to do and what you need to know if you’re thinking of applying.
With hints and tips and personal accounts of what it was like for current medical students. Support available for finances and the myths that exist around studying medicine. The booklet is to promote widening participation and access to medicine regardless of background.
Equality and diversity
Equality, diversity and inclusion has always been a priority of importance for SMSC. This year SMSC will continue to actively engage with our respective medical schools to ensure that the BMA racial harassment charter will be implemented in each school.
Discrimination and harassment continues to be an issue in medical schools and at places of work. As explained in a blog from our past co-chair Sam Watson, "BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) students were four times more likely than their white counterparts to describe bullying and harassment as ‘often’ rather than ‘sometimes’ a problem.”
SMSC have continued to work, with our UK counterparts, on asking each medical school in the UK to sign up the charter.
Each SMSC representative have also developed where lacking, local LGBTQIA+ equality committee and working groups and have reached out to students to join. The aim is to provide a safe space to discuss matters that impact on individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ and how best we can support and represent them.
As well as the above priorities, SMSC have identified additional priorities for the 2021-22 session including: widening participation and improved engagement with students.
University of Aberdeen
Ansu Mari Saji
University of Dundee
University of Edinburgh
University of Glasgow
University of St Andrews
Elected medical student member of Scottish Council
ScotGEM (co-optee – non-voting)
Chair of MSC UK (non-voting)
Chair of Welsh MSC (non-voting)
Chair of NI MSC (non-voting)
Deputy chair: Anna Murray
Chair of Scottish Council (non-voting)
1 member appointed by SJDC (non-voting)
1 member appointed by MASC UK (non-voting)
Take part in one of our free courses designed to give you the right skills to:
- break down equality and inclusion bias (CPD-accredited)
- value difference and inclusivity
- live our BMA behaviour principles.
SMSC meets four times a year to discuss the latest issues impacting medical students in Scotland. These meetings are open to the elected members of SMSC, but non-members can apply for the BMA committee visitors scheme.
- Saturday 2 October 2021 - 10.30am to 1pm
- Thursday 09 December 2021 - 2.30pm to 5pm
- Saturday 19 March 2022 – 10.30am to 1pm
- Tuesday 21 May 2022 – 2.30pm to 5pm
All our meetings take place either virtually or at:
14 Queen Street
How to join
There are many advantages to becoming involved in our committees. You can actively influence BMA policy-making and negotiations, represent your colleagues' voices and develop your leadership skills.
Each committee has a few routes to becoming an elected member. In the case of SMSC, these are:
- Seats/term - every year, all medical schools elect a representative and a deputy representative to UK MSC for a one-session term. For split campuses, an additional deputy representative is elected. All representatives elected from Scottish medical schools are also voting members of the Scottish medical students committee.
- Timeline - elections usually take place in March or April.
- Eligibility - all student BMA members are eligible to stand and vote in this election.
- Seats/term – a medical student representative is elected to BMA Scottish council for a three-session term. The elected representative has a voting seat on the SMSC.
- Timeline - elections usually take place every three years.
- Eligibility - all Scottish student BMA members are eligible to stand and vote in this election.
These details are updated regularly so please keep checking the page throughout the year.
Get in touch
If you are interested in finding out more about the work of the SMSC, please email us or call 0131 247 3003.