By Lizzy Morgan
Having attended the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) March Meeting in Malta last year, I found that I was comparing this year’s March Meeting with last years.
Last year, I was signed up to attend sessions within the Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH). In these sessions we talked a lot about a range of issues, some of which we rarely address within Medsin. For example, I remember having a session on antimicrobial resistance. Whilst this is an important global issue, we rarely discuss it within Medsin, possibly because we prefer to focus on wider general themes. I remember feeling so surprised at delegates from other countries, who did not know that antimicrobial resistance existed, or to what extent it was a problem. I found this really shocking and it made me feel quite upset and hopeless.
In contrast, this March Meeting I was acting co-President alongside Florence Mutlow. This meant that I did not attend a Standing Committee, instead I went to the President’s Sessions. In these sessions, we discuss what has been happening in IFMSA since the last meeting, and we talk a bit about what we will be voting on in the upcoming Plenary. I found these sessions really informative and it was so exciting relaying all the information back to the rest of the UK delegates when we met up. Although I missed learning the traditional content that the others were, it was so interesting to get a completely different insight into a March Meeting, and for me, this conference was completely different to last years.
Whilst in the Plenaries, we were in charge of voting on decisions that we as a UK delegation had decided on before. I found this really exciting and informative to understand this different viewpoint on participating in IFMSA. Talking to others about how they were voting and why was also really informative and gaining this insight into others perspective was unique and sometimes humbling.
From this experience, I have learnt that I do really enjoy participating in the IFMSA General Assemblies (something I was not sure of before, hence participating in another conference). I also really value the importance of delegation because the amount of work to do during this event is enormous, particularly when you are exhausted, hungover and brain capacity is reduced. Lastly, ensuring that everyone is enjoying themselves as much as possible, or at least has room to vent, is extremely important. I can appreciate this from the March Meeting in Malta, and tried really hard to make sure that everyone enjoyed themselves as much as possible.
I would highly recommend attending an IFMSA event to everyone. It is a unique insight into other medical students lives and a great opportunity to make loads of friends you can visit in the future. There is a lot of funding you can get to reduce the cost of the event, which is worth the money anyway to gain an insight into how an international organisation functions.