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Wilkommen to my blog - my name is Karin Purshouse, and I'm a doctor in the UK. If you're looking for ramblings on life as a junior doctor, my attempts to dual-moonlight as a scientist and balancing all that madness with a life, you've come to the right place. I'm currently a doctor/research trainee in oncology after spending a year doing research in the USA. All original content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

First Post Pressure!

So it is with slight trepidation that I enter the world of the Professional Blog.  Hello!  I hope from time to time you will pop and hopefully read something that you like, or that you share some of the things I am interested in.

To get cracking, I thought I'd start with a wee post about the BMA Council Election in which I'm currently standing as a candidate.  If you know me, I'd really appreciate your vote!  If you don't know me, and are wondering who on earth to pick on the epic-ly long ballot form, I'd like to tell you a bit more about myself and perhaps you'll consider voting for me too.

I'm a Scottish/German/English medical student - born in Glasgow, grew up in Wiltshire.  I can thank my German mother for the spelling of my first name and continuing to be better at English than I am, and my English dad for his willingness to help me with my maths queries.  The local secondary school that I attended happened to be a Performing Arts school and none of my family are medics, so medicine certainly wasn't a foregone conclusion for me!  However, I am so glad I chose this profession - I know I probably still have the rose tinted glasses of a medical student on, but I have loved my training at Newcastle University (with a detour to intercalate at Imperial in Surgery and Anaesthesia), and the extracurricular activities that have come my way have led me to become interested in medical politics.

I came very much from the grassroots level to the BMA.  At medical school, I trained with Sexpression to run sexual health workshops for young people in the North East, a role which later led me co-coordinate a National Sexpression Conference in Newcastle and train other students to lead workshops.  This led me to work with Medsin, and I was the logistics coordinator for the Global Health Conference in Newcastle.  But it was really as President of the Newcastle Medical and Dental Students Council (NMDSC) that I became really interested in medical student representation and medical politics - apart from organising various social events, it also gave me a sense of what representation can achieve on the ground.  For example, we organised peer parenting, along with a Cheese and Wine mixer to help 'parents' meet their 'children (freshers)' in a more relaxed environment, and wrote a Freshers guide for prospective Medical Students.  I remain passionate about staying in touch with what's happening at a grassroots level, and aware of what people want and need.  I should also say that the NMDSC committee was a brilliant committee to work in, with real teamwork and camaraderie, and I felt excited about working in such a motivated group and really getting things done.

I became involved with the BMA as the medical school rep (MSC rep) in my fourth year, and have never looked back.  I was struck by what the MSC could achieve and the high level on which it lobbied for medical students.

I was Chair of the Medical Students Committee (MSC) 2010-11, a role that was challenging but exciting.  Just as I took over, the Foundation Programme Oversubscription was announced, as was the Browne Review, and the start of the year was a blur of lobbying, meetings and media work to try and get our message to the politicians and organisations making the decisions.  Regarding student finance, we lobbied hard to get Medical Students to be seen as a group who required special consideration - only 1 in 7 medical students come from a lower income background, a figure that has since increased further.  Although the £9000 fees were pushed through, we did manage to secure a guarantee for NHS bursary funding for subsequent year, without which students may have been paying up front for their education right at the end of their medical degrees.  As for the Oversubscription, we cited how medical unemployment constituted a waste of taxpayers money, and eventually all graduates were offered a Foundation job.  I also attended the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA) meeting in Copenhagen with Medsin UK, sitting on the Standing Committee for Medical Education.  There, I was fortunate to be able to discuss ideas about student representation, student feedback and political lobbying with medical students from all over the world.  There were of course many other issues that the MSC worked towards last year, which involved working with the GMC, the Medical Schools Council, UKFPO, Foundation School Directors and importantly, committees within the BMA.

As MSC Chair, I represented Medical Students as a non-voting member of BMA Council.  There aren't many voices from our end of the medical profession on Council, and I think we need to be vocal to ensure our voice is heard.  Having seen what is involved, I think I have the experience to contribute and be that voice.

This year, having returned to Newcastle, I still sit on the MSC Executive Committee and sit on the Junior Doctors Committee, and feel that this experience would help bring continuity to the role on Council.  I'm also working on developing the Right to Research agenda in the UK after meeting the RtR Director at IFMSA - I blog on behalf of Medsin-UK at....

I think I'll stop there... and round things off by saying how much I have enjoyed the experiences I have had so far, and how lucky I have been to meet the great people I have met in the MSC and the BMA as a whole.  If you ever despair of the apathy of today's young people, come along to a BMA MSC meeting and your heart will be warmed!  It has been invigorating and inspiring to work with so many brilliant people.  If I was voted onto Council, I would work my socks off!

Danke sehr, und alles gute,

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