This year, the BMA Medical Students’ Committee got a new style of training for the first time. Replacing the long lectures about the internal organisation of the BMA and the library were two sections devoted to trade union work.
First, we enabled new representatives to plan a little of their year: thinking about working as a team with their rep colleagues nationally and locally; planning events; meeting the staff who support them. Beth McMahon, Keele representative, talked about how to build a community and share information with your members and with the committee. MSC reps are representing and accountable to the members who elected them. Emma Runswick, BMA Council member, gave some training on recruitment, emphasising that high membership and density was the source of our trade union power, and that recruitment is not a one-step process, nor an advertising conversation.
We then ran a session called ‘problem solving’, a member casework task based on the representation experiences of Emma Runswick whilst a BMA activist. We covered exam failure, welfare and professionalism issues, and group campaigning.
Both sessions were well received and mark a significant departure from the service provision model of representation the BMA is committed to elsewhere in the organisation.
The changes were the result of heavy pushing from the student left working with BMA staff, and the contributions of many reps to the training day working group. We hope the changes will continue and spread into other branches of practice.