By Mashiyat Ahmed
Hi everyone, my name is Mashiyat and I am a third year medical student at the University of Manchester. This year I decided to be a student rep for my year. When I applied, it was a spark of the moment decision but looking back, I think I have been wanting to do it for quite some time. Just before our second-year finals, we were hit with the global pandemic bringing a lot of uncertainties and chaos to our education and pretty much everything else (as expected)! I remember feeling very lost, and my friends equally as confused. All I wanted was to be part of the loop and somehow deliver our concerns collectively to the medical school. The year rep at the time was very helpful and had a big role to play. This year, with everything changing to online classes and our patient interaction time being cut short, student representation was more important than ever and I wanted to make sure all our voices were heard, and heard loudly, which is what motivated to take on the role.
The most important and rewarding aspect of this role was creating an open space for my fellow students to come and talk to about any of their concerns. It was satisfying to help them in any way I could and if not, direct them to the right people. I remember being a clueless fresher having no idea about which departments to reach out to with what concern, and every time I help someone equally or hopefully less lost than I was, I make my first year- self proud. It gave me a huge sense of achievement when I could help resolve an issue that a student raised with me by liaising with the university and make it better for the whole year. I remember when I got the lockers fixed for our changing room after hundreds of email exchanges: that feeling was something else! It made me feel part of something useful. It was also good to have frequent meetings with the staff and personally know everyone involved in making decisions that essentially affect our entire cohort. I learnt a lot about how executive decisions are made and to look at things from the staff’s perspective as well. I feel as medics, we are quick to complain and blame the University for small issues, but I realised behind everything that is running smoothly for us, there is a big team of people working tirelessly to make it happen. Especially medicine being a professional degree, the university is regulated by the GMC and have to adjust a lot to accommodate for the students. It was sort of an eye opener for me and made me more appreciative of the university.
However, the biggest takeaway for me was learning people management skills. A lot of the times students would come to me feeling very passionately about certain issues, and I had to stay calm and try to guide them in whatever ways best suited for them. I had to adapt different communication styles for different people. This, will definitely be a big learning point for me going forwards in my career, dealing with different types of patients and relatives.
In the end, I loved representing my year and being a bridge between the university and the students. It helped me grow personally, brought me closer to my colleagues and taught me a great deal about people management and leadership. This was an unexplored territory for me when I started and very out of character for me, but from what I have learnt, university is the perfect place to go out of your comfort zone and expand your horizon, because you will always have guidance and people to fall back on.