The weekend before last I traveled to Tyneside to see Medsin Newcastle trial a new type of handover day. Some branches hold full day handovers at this time of year, when incoming and outgoing committees come together to evaluate the year gone and to plan for the future. This year Newcastle came up with the innovative idea of co-hosting the day with the local student groups that are affiliated to their branch. This includes branches of the national Activities affiliated to Medsin, including Homed, SKIP and Sexpression, as well as CPRis and Teddy Bear Hospital, who are both national student groups that used to be affiliated to Medsin.
Handing over well is incredibly important to student organisations, where committees change every year; and is especially key within the Medsin network because of the complex and public facing operations of our branches and activities. In the past, poor handovers have broken branches, leaving them direction-less and disorganised for a year, which is often the road to collapse. The day went well with very positive feedback.
There were a few lessons that could be learnt for the future, including the need to find more time for all of the groups to come together to discuss shared issues, and to share ways of working. People also felt that it would have been useful to have more training mixed in with the planning, especially for skills specific to key roles (such as Treasurer).
Seeing so many students at the coal face of planning also highlighted some key areas where the National Committee can be more supportive. For example, Medsin Imperial and Medsin QUB both ran excellent global health courses throughout this year, which drove greater member engagement, and motivated the next generation of medsinners. By packaging up their experiences into a toolkit, other branches could take up and adapt this idea which would save new Education Officers from having to use valuable planning time to reinvent the wheel. Another key area that Medsin can provide more support in is with advocacy around world days, such as World AIDS Day and International Women’s Day.
All in all, the joint handover day was potentially a very good model that can be adapted for the future, and that I will be recommending that other branches take up. The day was followed by a classic Medsin social with Dinner at a local Japanese restaurant, and drinks in the Charles Grey pub. I then rounded off my weekend in Newcastle with some Sunday morning planning with Anya, Medsin veteran and International Director, who I’m grateful to for hosting me that weekend. This was followed by a strategy meeting on next term’s NHS theme with Anya, Pete Campbell (NHS theme coordinator) and Matt Tuck (Sexpression National Coordinator).
It was a thoroughly enjoyable and productive weekend, and I’m glad that Medsin keeps on bringing me back to Newcastle.