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Jayani Suriyakumaran

4th year MBBS Student, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry


Barts and the London Endocrine Society

London’s first student-led endocrinology society...

There is no better way of declaring your love for a sport, hobby or even specialty than joining a university society dedicated to it. And if one doesn’t exist, then create it!

In September 2014, six fourth year students, including myself, decided to set up a society to share our passion for endocrinology with other students from Barts and the London, School of Medicine and Dentistry. We sought help from the wonderful Dr Maralyn Druce at the Barts Endocrinology Department to help us submit the necessary application form.

What kindled the flame?

The six of us who formed the founding committee were introduced to the specialty during our intercalated degree in molecular therapeutics, when we completed the neuroendocrinology module. The course was extremely well organised, and we got a real flavour of endocrinology through being invited to meetings and clinics. So, 2 years after being welcomed so warmly by the Endocrinology Department, we felt other students would benefit from having the same taste of endocrinology that we had experienced.

First steps

Other than our desire to share the wonders of endocrinology, we had no idea what events we would host, or who we would invite to host them. We returned to Dr Druce and asked whether she would kindly be our Staff President (a senior member of staff within the medical school who oversees the activities of the society). She helped us brainstorm ideas for events, and the committee decided to host four events during the academic year.

The Freshers’ Fair was our first platform to promote the society. We cast our net by advertising a prize draw for the first 20 students who signed up, and the prize was an endocrinology textbook or the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine.

A tiring afternoon saw us striving to convince nearly 200 students that paid membership to the endocrinology society would allow them exclusive access to lectures by renowned speakers and the chance to network with pioneers in lab-based research at the Centre for Endocrinology (William Harvey Research Institute). We persuaded about 150 students to sign up to the society – and approximately 10 students to pay membership.

When we submitted the society application form, we promised the student union a minimum of 20 members, secretly believing we would at least double that number. So, it was slightly demoralising to have only recruited 10 members so far.

Onwards and upwards

Our first society event took place exactly a month later. We started promoting it early, to achieve maximum turnout. It was delivered by our own Staff President and entitled ‘Neuroendocrine tumours: meet the family’, reflecting our speaker’s special interest and enabling us to introduce this exciting family of tumours that were not taught in the curriculum. A very good turnout saw nearly 50 students attend, including a handful from other universities.

Our second event was on ‘Hormones and doping’, with speaker Craig Stiles, a Senior Registrar from Barts and the London Endocrine Department, who has a keen interest in the subject, especially as he is an avid cyclist. The event attracted attendees interested in sports medicine as well as those wishing to learn more about doping. We organised this event in collaboration with the London Sports and Exercise Medicine Group.

Our subsequent networking event was hugely oversubscribed. It was a fantastic opportunity for students to meet consultant endocrinologists and to inspire attendees to get involved in summer projects, audits, etc. It was very rewarding, since many students benefited from the evening, and members of staff enjoyed it as well.

A year of success

Our final event of the year was based on the past, current and future treatment of diabetes, delivered by Tahseen Chowdhury, a consultant diabetologist. A lot of our members expressed an interest in holding this event, since a large proportion of the local population suffers from the condition. As with previous events, this one was also very well received.

By June, we had accumulated about 80 paid members, which was definitely a great success! The new committee was elected in the same month and all responsibilities have now passed to them.

We hope to see our endocrinology society grow into a bigger, even more successful society, and that it collaborates with new student endocrinology societies across the UK. Since our last event, we have been asked by students at other medical schools how we did it, so here is our success story – good luck creating yours!

Jayani Suriyakumaran

4th year MBBS Student, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry

 

The founding committee of Barts and the London Endocrinology Society was: Jayani Suriyakumaran and Sanjiv Yogarajah (Co-Presidents); Minolhini Raveendran (Treasurer); Writaja Halder (Events Co-ordinator); Rea Ganatra (Secretary); Mina Al-Janabi (Clinical Representative).