Queen's GP Society is a vibrant and enthusiastic group of Undergraduate Medical Students at Queen’s University Belfast. Their aim is to encourage General Practice as a diverse career pathway, and to support the academic and educational needs of medical students during their time at Queen’s University.

We had the privilege of chatting to Society President and final year medical student, Tim Neill, to find out more about the incredible work that he and his team are doing, and how MedAll has enabled them to make a global impact.

We'd love to know more about Queen’s GP Society, how does it run?

Three years ago when I joined, we had a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer who acted as an executive committee. We didn't have any extra roles, but we did have representatives in each year group who were responsible for distributing advertisements and promotional material. At that stage, the committee would have been around 8 to 10 individuals across all five years of the medical school at Queens.

This year we've expanded, and we now have two vice presidents, Kathryn and Tom, who are both great individuals and a huge support to me. I’m in my final year, and I know that the amount of time I'm able to dedicate to extracurricular activities is going to dwindle coming to exams, so I’m grateful to have the extra support. We've also added in a social media officer and two event admin officers who are responsible for the structuring, scheduling and production of our MedAll events.

Tell us, what was life like before MedAll?

This is my third year in the society, and a few years ago we were primarily holding face to face events on a monthly basis. We would have used Google Forms and Eventbrite for registrations, which was a lot of manual work as we had to collate and pull information from those tools. However as the style of events we were doing were mostly face to face, we hadn't really considered online events because most of the students at Queens University, even if they were on placement, would have found our events accessible to get to on campus.

What was the catalyst for exploring other platforms?

As everybody experienced, we had massive changes over Covid. As a Society we still wanted to produce good quality educational content to support and supplement what students were potentially missing on clinical placements. Plus, we were keen to still try and hold regular events that would promote General Practice, which had been getting quite a tough treatment in the media with issues that had been precipitated by Covid.

As a result, we started looking into running our events solely online and for the first 6 months, we did this with the help of our Medical School through hosting on their Zoom account. However we still had to do registrations via Google or Microsoft Forms, send out an email invite to each registered participant, and then another email asking for pre-submitted questions. We then had to distribute this information to our speakers and our presenters, and only after that could we actually look at getting the event up and running.

We're interested to know, why did you start using MedAll?

My predecessor, the President last year, was a good friend of mine called Davog McCaffrey, who is now an F1 doctor in Northern Ireland. Davog was the person who championed the platform, and made the decision to move to MedAll. It had been floated as something for us to trial, and before MedAll Live was launched, we had a mix of different things going on. MedAll was the home of the event, but we were still using a Microsoft Form to ask those pre-event questions and we were still using Zoom as the actual conferencing tool.

This was quite an interesting time because although MedAll was there, we were still reluctant to move to it, and it was a case of fear. However, what resolved that, and I recall it quite well because I was on my GP placement in a remote location in Northern Ireland, was a call with Phil, the CEO of MedAll. Phil did a training call with us and talked us through the features that were on MedAll, and from that point the penny dropped — and when the penny dropped, we embraced it with open arms. Ever since then we've seen the developments and fantastic additions to the software that have made our life so much easier.

How do you find introducing MedAll to your community?

If I compare doing that last year to now, there's been a great improvement because a lot of the medical education departments in our local hospitals are using MedAll and have a MedAll account set up.

However, at the GP Specialist Interest event that we ran recently, one of our speakers had never heard of MedAll, and wasn’t verified on the platform. However we were able to reassure them by the fact that our settings only allowed registered and verified delegates to attend that event. This then gave them confidence to speak openly and honestly at the event, and know that their presentation wasn’t going to be misunderstood.

How did you use MedAll to run your recent 'Ace your SJT' event?

Firstly, I contacted the speaker Dr. Olivia Bradley by email, and she confirmed she was happy to be part of the event. I then set up the event on MedAll, which was a straightforward process. I knew it was going to be a well attended event, so I opted to have that webinar format rather than interactive video call. I was then able to design the registration and feedback forms and add our own questions to both. This meant if our delegates had any specific queries about the SJT for Dr. Bradley, I could share them in advance of the event. It was a very simple click of a button to share the invitation for Dr. Bradley to be a speaker, and then I also added myself and a few of the other committee members as moderators to help with hosting. Just before the event went live we had a pre-event briefing where we were able to chat to Dr. Bradley on the event stage.

After the event, we easily shared the feedback form into the chat, and for anyone who left early, I was able to send them a specific feedback link afterwards. This option always gives us peace of mind that we’re only signing certificates for those who attended the event. I then looked at our feedback responses, where I was able to get a gauge of where our delegate's knowledge was before the event compared to after the event, which makes for a lovely comparison. Plus, I'll be able to share the feedback with Dr Bradley aswell.

We'd love to know, what makes MedAll the perfect fit for you?

As a GP Society, we have been trying to reach different disciplines based off the fact that GP has now become a multidisciplinary specialty. Through MedAll, we've been able to gather data on who's turning up to our events, where they work and what their healthcare discipline is. It's been really interesting to see who is attending our events as we’ve had midwifery students, nursing students, pharmacists, social workers and many more. It’s really encouraging for us that our ethos is being fulfilled in this way.

However, people do still like face-to-face events, but as a Society we need to look at the potential available to us, and have the confidence to jump in the deep end. Through running virtual and hybrid events, this allows for students to come into a lecture theatre together or to tune in from a hospital, a hundred miles away, or even a couple of thousand miles away. I definitely feel more confident to run this style of event, as it's not something that we have a fear of anymore, and that is because of the support that's available on MedAll.

Lastly, what’s your proudest moment as President?

My proudest moment was the recent Ace your SJT event. We have previously run this event with Dr. Olivia Bradley, however we were blown away that almost 500 people from across Northern Ireland, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Europe, and the world registered for that event. MedAll demographics are great for tracking, as I could see where people were registering from, and we had delegates joining us from Canada, Nigeria, Romania and Ukraine. It was a great feeling to know that students were able to tune in from right across the world and to hear what our little Northern Irish based Society had to say about the SJT. Seeing that amount of people coming to an event that we organised, from across the world, showed us that we were breaking down barriers. This wouldn't have been possible without MedAll, as we couldn't have promoted what we were doing to a global audience. The support I have as President is incredible, and I’m really proud to lead a team that can produce an event like that. That makes me happy, and it's why I do what I do.


To find out more about Queen's GP Society, and to get involved in their upcoming events check out their organisation on MedAll or follow them on Twitter.

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