It’s All About Communication… My Time as a Member of the BGS Trainees’ Council

Christopher Osuafor is a BHF/CRE Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge Department of Clinical Neurosciences and an Honorary Specialist Registrar in Geriatrics/Stroke Medicine at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. He tweets @xto_p.

I was excited to take on the role of Communications and Social Media Representative of the British Geriatrics Society Trainees Council at the 2018 Spring Meeting in Nottingham. Two years later, it truly has been an honour to be of service. Without hesitation, let me spill the beans on why this may be your time!

But why did I do it? At that time, I was relatively new to the NHS and had just started an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship at the Health Education East of England region. As if that wasn’t enough, I was still getting used to the expressions and mannerisms of the British; a very important skill to acquire especially as I self-identify as Black and Minority Ethnic. One thing was obvious, I wasn’t one to shy away from a challenge... well, challenges in this case. Again, I had benefitted from the generosity of the BGS as I had been a recipient of the BGS Young Doctors Education Grant…twice; this was my way of saying thank you. Finally, what better way to learn (hard and fast!) all I needed to know about communication other than by doing? Clearly, making the decision to submit an expression of interest to join the Trainees’ Council was an easy one.

Keeping trainee members up-to-date on news, events, research opportunities, upcoming conferences, and courses that are relevant to their training in Geriatric Medicine was a key part of my role. It meant that I knew what was going on in terms of important events within the BGS, locally in my region and nationally around the UK. This role involves sending out a monthly newsletter through the PR office (and sometimes, WhatsApp), keeping an updated record of regional trainee representatives and training programme directors and being a resource point for occasional queries from trainees and sister organisations. And yes, social media. I did tweet a lot more during BGS sessions, something which helped others participate in the conversation in real time. Not to mention that I’ve used these tweets as reference for my reflections on my eportfolio. Ker-ching!

Being in the communications role created fantastic opportunities for me to be privy to discussions that directly or indirectly related to my office. It’s amazing to witness how new ideas and pertinent topics are approached, different sides of the conversation, occasional opposing views and final resolutions. This experience I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. And did I mention planning the future direction of the Society? Ample opportunity for this at the Council Meetings, Trainees Session at the Spring/Autumn BGS meetings and the annual 2-day Trainees Weekend.

Effective communication improves teamwork. It goes without saying that handling communication amongst trainees in a large organisation such as the BGS can be challenging. If you do it right, it’s personally rewarding and, in some cases, can diffuse tense situations even before they arise. If you make a mistake though, it could be gut-wrenching and may potentially create a sense of isolation. In this case however, you have the strong support and multidisciplinary expertise of your “family” – a role which the BGS repeatedly provides.

Like all good movies, my tenure has sadly come to an end. I continually transfer to other clinical and academic settings the lessons and skills that I’ve gathered in this role. And the learning never stops. Perhaps this is your time! I certainly encourage all trainee members at any stage of their training, to apply for this role (or any of the roles) and be a part of the exciting work going on in this Society. It’s the BGS, c’mon!

Are you interested in joining the BGS Trainees’ Council to encourage the effective training of future geriatricians and promote the involvement of all trainees in the work of BGS? Find out more about current vacancies on BGS Trainees Council.


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