Dominic Lee is a fourth-year medicine student who recently took a year out to undertake his BMSc in Applied Orthopaedic Technology. Dominic is both the past and current School President of medicine and has served in the role for a year and a half. Dominic is also now the Vice Chair of the Student Representative Council. Following graduation, Dominic intends to join the foundation doctor program with a final goal of ending up as an orthopaedic surgeon.
My experiences as SoM President (and SRC member) have been mixed. To start with a positive; I have found many of my own skills, both those related to my field and the more nebulous non-technical, to have improved. Be it chairing meetings, organising a complex job list, balancing my studies with presidential duties, or simply dealing with a disgruntled fellow student, my time in the role has improved me for the better. Despite my personal development, the role has of course not been without its challenges. In the spirit of candour, I would say the worst aspect of the role, and the one that made me question if running had been a good idea, was the initial sense of helplessness many of my fellow presidents also reported.
The role of a school president is multifaceted and fascinating for it, but it also means that at the start you can feel lost; I would encourage anyone reading this who may be considering running for the role to not be put off by this but to start to reach out now. Talk to your representatives, read insight blogs, ask them to walk you through a day in the role, so when you hopefully start, it isn’t a shock!
As part of this I was asked to talk about my day to day of the role; this role varies massively from day to day so I thought walking through my job list over the last 2 weeks would be of more benefit. In the last 2 weeks I’ve had 3 meetings to attend at around 2h a piece covering the Student staff liaison committee, a meeting with the quality improvement in learning and teaching and finally a meeting with the other school presidents to discuss motions we want to bring before the whole SRC. In addition to this I’ve been involved in 5 long email chains and taken the time to write this.
This sounds like a fair deal of work because it is, but in doing this, I’ve expressed concerns of my peers to senior staff when they were concerned about doing it themselves; helped improve the experience of future students and helped direct a first year who was struggling with imposter syndrome. This is my biggest tip for this role; don’t focus on the literal work but focus on the outcomes. This is what matters and that’s why most of us choose to run for these roles, be it an SRC member, a school president or a member of the DUSA executive.
You get to help your fellow students
Gain an understanding into the working of the school
Get the opportunity to implement your own ideas and support your peers with theirs
Develop non-technical skills in communication and leadership
Learn how to chair meetings and plan agendas
You get to meet a great group of people in the SRC and work closely with like-minded people
It's a lot to learn at the start
Time commitment shouldn't be underestimated
Can feel frustrated about the lack of progress at times
Often feels like no matter how hard you try, people will always be annoyed at you
If I were to give advice to those who want to run, I think it would be three main things.
1. Talk to your predecessor and ensure you have a good sense of the role before September. You are going to hit the ground fast - better at a run than a crash.
2. Do not let a worry about not being able to do a certain aspect hold you back; your Student Staff Liaison Committee and Vice Presidents and class reps will support you; we’ve all got weaker areas and that’s why we work in a team.
3. If you’re considering it just go for it. You regret 100% of the shots you don’t take or something equally cliché. University is a place for opportunity and development, so you might as well seize this one.
I’ve written a fair amount here, but as a closing remark, being a school president has had its ups and downs but looking back I’m proud of my contributions to my school and I think I’m the better for having taken this role. I can only implore people to get involved and be heard; there are plenty of issues and even if you only start tackling one you’re affecting lives of all students after you and that has to be worth it.
If you wish to submit any ideas of your own to current student leaders, please visit our new and improved student voice hub at www.dusa.co.uk/get-involved/student-voice-hub