Community Stories
How to grow your student society and reach a global audience

How to grow your student society and reach a global audience

Edinburgh Student Surgical Society (ESSS) is a student-led organisation aiming to provide students with adequate tools to confidently pursue a career in surgery. Since being founded in 2005, ESSS have rapidly become the largest student surgical society in Scotland. We had the privilege of chatting to Society President and final year medical student, Magdalena Markiewicz to find out more about the incredible work that she and the team at ESSS are doing, and how MedAll has enabled them to spend less time on admin, and more time on what’s important.

We’d love to know more about you. Why did you decide to pursue a career in healthcare?

I enjoyed science at school and when I thought about the career options available within science, I started considering medicine. I did work experience at my local hospital, I began to read more about medicine, and I spoke to doctors and surgeons to get their perspective and advice. All of this affirmed my decision to pursue a career in medicine.

How did you first get involved in ESSS and what does your role entail?

I attended several events organised by ESSS during my first and second year of medical school. I then decided that I wanted to be more actively involved in the society and ran for a position. I was first elected as Treasurer, then Conference Convener, and finally President, which is the role that I am currently fulfilling. As President, my role entails overseeing and leading the society in achieving our aim of bringing exciting, high-quality, and accessible educational events to medical students interested in a career in surgery. I am responsible for putting together a calendar of events, making sure that they run smoothly, and dealing with any difficulties that arise. Being involved in ESSS has truly been a highlight of my medical school experience and I hope that our events bring the same value to the medical students that attend them as they did to me and in my early years at medical school.

We’re interested to know what tools and platforms you were using before MedAll?

When I first started attending ESSS events, the society was much smaller. There were less events being run and all events were in-person. When the pandemic hit, we had to transition to delivering all of our events online. We were using multiple platforms to do this including Google Forms for collecting feedback, PowerPoint for creating certificates, which we then had to send out individually to attendees, Facebook or Tubs for registrations, and Zoom for delivering events on the day. Using multiple platforms was not feasible in the long run, particularly as the number of attendees was growing due to the more global reach of our online events. Suddenly, it was not just medical students from Edinburgh attending our events but medical students from all over the world. Whilst this was great, it meant that we were spending a significant amount of time on admin, rather than working on designing, organising, and delivering our events and therefore bringing value to our members.

"We had to find a better solution, and the solution was MedAll."

How did you find the transition from using multiple tools, to using MedAll, and what features were particularly beneficial for you?

When we first started using MedAll, not everyone was as familiar with it as it was just beginning to grow. However, after delivering a few events, we could see that MedAll was working well. Our attendees and speakers quickly got used to MedAll and our committee became more confident with it. We could see the benefits of the platform, especially the automated tasks such as feedback forms and certificates.

"This saves us so much time and admin, freeing us up to use our time to bring value to our members."

We also love the catch-up content tool. Previously, we manually uploaded resources to our website but this was not accessed by many or updated regularly. With MedAll, we can see that many of our attendees are using the catch-up content tool to rewatch our online events and access any additional resources that we upload such as slides from tutorials, which has been fantastic. MedAll Live has been a game-changer.

How do you use social media alongside MedAll to reach a global audience?

We have two Publicity Managers as part of the committee this year and we stay active on social media. We make sure to regularly post reminders and countdowns across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We also make sure to tag MedAll and any organisations that we work with to engage them in the conversation.

We’d love to know what’s been your proudest moment as President?

We have run several successful online events on MedAll that I am proud of. Most recently, we ran the first part of our Careers Roadshow, which this year has been expanded into a series with both online and in-person events. The first part focussed on an Introduction to a Surgical Career and gave attendees an in-depth look into the pathway of becoming a surgeon and the day-to-day life of a surgeon. Throughout this year, we have also run an Undergraduate Surgical Teaching Series. This covers surgical topics at the level expected of clinical year students and is extremely useful for exams, Each session consists of a presentation delivered by a surgical trainee followed by small group case discussions. This has been a really popular series with attendees from all over the UK as well as international medical schools.

I am also very proud of the incredible committee that we have this year. It is a committee of passionate, dedicated, and enthusiastic individuals. It is a highly diverse committee, which means that it is formed of the most distinct pool of creative, talented, and conscientious individuals, all united in our shared goal to design, organise, and deliver exciting, high-quality, and accessible educational events to medical students interested in a career in surgery. I am very proud that our ability to achieve this on a global scale was recognised by the MedAll Exceptional Educator Award.

How has MedAll helped you achieve these goals and what’s next for ESSS?

MedAll always shares our events, which allows us to reach a greater number of people and simply having one platform with automated tasks has saved us so much time and admin. This has definitely contributed to us being able to run more events throughout the year. Looking at the near future, we have another jam-packed calendar for next semester with lots of exciting events. Our Finals Weekend, Diversity in Surgery Evening, and Undergraduate Surgery and Trauma Conference are coming up. We will also continue our Undergraduate Surgical Teaching Series and our weekly Surgical Skills Club. Looking further ahead, it is my final year of medical school so I will unfortunately be leaving the committee. However I am sure that the society will continue to grow, introduce new events, and reach more people.

To find out more about Edinburgh Student Surgical Society, and to get involved in their upcoming events check out their organisation on MedAll or follow them on Twitter.

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