Posted by Adrienne Lee
Thu, 2 Feb 2017
Gemma and I found ourselves in Slovenia last weekend, meeting up with other National Exchange Officers (NEOs) and National Officers for Research Exchange (NOREs) from across Europe in preparation for the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA) March Meeting. The weekend was fantastic, with a good balance of work and play. But before we tell you what we actually got up to, let’s clear up some of the jargon…
What are exchanges?
The IFMSA runs the largest and oldest medical student exchange scheme in the world, with over 14,000 exchanges taking place globally each year. The emphasis is on ethical and equitable opportunities to experience healthcare and research in another country. Exchanges can be clinical (which are part of the IFMSA standing committee “SCOPE”), or research (part of the IFMSA standing committee “SCORE”). Medsin, as the UK representative organisation in the IFMSA, runs these exchanges for the UK.
What is a NEO and a NORE?
A NEO is in charge of clinical exchanges in their country, whilst the NORE is the head of research exchanges. Their jobs involve communicating with local exchange officers in their country who organise exchanges at their university/branch, speak to other NEOs and NOREs of different countries and sign contracts between their country and other places so students can go on exchange.
What is the IFMSA March Meeting?
The IFMSA has two General Assemblies per year; one in March and one in August – which are conveniently called March Meeting and August Meeting. Each year Medsin takes a delegation of students to represent the UK at each meeting, and these students take part in different sessions in different standing committees. Two of these standing committees are SCOPE and SCORE, so generally the NEOs and NOREs of each country attend these sessions. Anyone can apply to be on the Medsin delegation to go to the IFMSA meetings – keep your eye out for the call for delegates for the August 2017 meeting (it’s in Tanzania!).
So what did we get up to in Slovenia?
SloMSIC, who are the Slovenian equivalent of Medsin, hosted an amazing training weekend for the NEOs and NOREs of IFMSA European region. After the opening and some team building at an “escape room”, we started the weekend on the Friday night with with a national food and drink party. We represented the tastes of Britain with scones, crumpets, Cadbury’s and gin (which all seemed to go down well). Over the course of the weekend, we did training with the other NEOs and NOREs on topics related to exchanges and the IFMSA March Meeting. It was great to hear from others across Europe and find out about exchanges in their country, as well as work through common problems together to help us all improve exchanges across IFMSA. Not wanting us to miss out on seeing beautiful Ljubljana, SloMSIC arranged a tour on Saturday afternoon of the castle and the city which was brilliant (if a little chilly).
We’ve come back energized, inspired and excited for Medsin Exchanges. Exchanges give students all over the world a chance to experience healthcare in another country in an ethical, bilateral manner – and we want to see more and more students getting this opportunity. In a time where politics threaten to provoke injustice and xenophobia worldwide, we have the chance as students to collaborate globally through exchanges – and work together towards achieving equity in health for all.
Interested in getting more involved in exchanges? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org !