BGS Deputy Honorary Secretary role – should I apply?

Dr Shane O’Hanlon is a consultant in geriatric medicine. He was Deputy Honorary Secretary from 2015-16 and is the current Honorary Secretary of the British Geriatrics Society.

If you’re thinking “That’s not for me” then allow me to persuade you otherwise! We are all extremely busy in our clinical roles and loath to take on anything extra. But some opportunities offer more in return for the time you invest, and this is one.

Ok, why should I even think about applying?

We need you! The BGS counts on its members to help shape the future of the society; across the four nations hundreds of people help out every year in varying ways. One of the nice things about this role is that you get to know who does what all across the UK, and you support the Hon Sec (who is the lynchpin) in helping to make sure that the work flows to and from the right people. This often involves inviting people to respond on behalf of the BGS to policy consultations from bodies such as NICE, the GMC and the Royal Colleges.

Policy? Hmmm…

I know, lots of clinicians feel an aversion to getting involved in policy work. It seems slow-moving and far removed from our clinical job. But it’s vital that the BGS has a voice on many important agendas (such as social care funding, deprivation of liberty, delayed transfers of care…) and policy is actually fascinating! I regret not getting involved earlier – you really can make a difference. For example there is the great opportunity of meeting with politicians to help influence their decisions. Our policy submissions are valued by those who receive them and usually help shape important reports.

Ok, I’ll take your word for it. What else would I need to do?

Anything the Hon Sec does, you should be ready to help with. The Hon Sec is one of the most senior officers in the society. They are responsible for signing off on press releases, policy submissions and the BGS position on a wide variety of topics. The Hon Sec also chairs the Policy and Communications committee meetings at the BGS – this is a great forum to work on our policy aims with a diverse group of people, and keep everyone up to speed with developments. As the Dep Hon Sec you will likely have a personal project to work on, and will help others with theirs. There is also a quarterly Trustee Board meeting where the BGS works on its strategy, examines its accounts and hears about the work everyone is doing. You also help out at the AGM.

Anything else?

The Hon Sec edits the BGS Newsletter, and the deputy would help out with this. Again it’s a great chance to keep a finger on the pulse of what is happening nationally and internationally in geriatric medicine – you won’t miss out on anything! Because of our central role, we are in an ideal position to invite people to blog for us so we support the Digital Media Editor in sourcing content for the BGS blog. Tweeting is also a part of this, and it’s a good forum to build our influence and connect with other people and organisations.

Who else do you work with?

We have regular meetings with the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other groups such as patient representatives and NHS organisations. We also meet with other people as needed, to work on projects of interest. It’s really varied and this is the best bit: meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds who all want to work on better healthcare for older people. And of course the people you will work with most often are the BGS team at Marjory Warren house, who are all fantastic! They will also be a huge support to your work, ideas factory, safety net, soundboard and shoulders to cry on.

What sort of person do you want?

The main thing is that you are committed and motivated. You should be interested in BGS activities and have some knowledge of our work. You should be open to policy work and have an awareness of what is happening nationally in healthcare for older people. You also need to be responsive (answer email queries same day) and flexible (the workload is very variable, with some very quiet weeks and some very busy ones). You should be well organised and a good communicator. There is lots of help available from the Hon Sec, President and others, and you will be supported as you grow into the role.

Alright, I’m in! What do I need to do to get this job?

Once the deadline for applications passes, in the event that we have multiple candidates there will be a vote. You need to do a brief blurb (you can see mine here) that tells BGS members why you would be the right person for the role.

And then it’s money and fame?

Well, your basic expenses will be covered by the BGS according to policy but there isn’t any salary contribution. You also need to chat to your employer/head of department to see if they will support you having some time to dedicate towards this role. As for fame, well your smiling face will be installed on the website, newsletter and many other places. This job isn’t about the recognition, it’s often a lot of quiet work that nobody knows about, but it’s very satisfying!

Who can I talk to if I have more questions?

You can get in touch with me by email sohanlon@gmail.com to chat informally (and in confidence) about any of this.

CLICK HERE to find out more. The application deadline is 30th April 2017

One thought on “BGS Deputy Honorary Secretary role – should I apply?

  1. Just to add to Shane’s Blog. My own first BGS roles were as Hon Dep Sec and as one of the section editors for Age and Ageing. Both gave me tremendous experience and more confidence in this type of work and i went on to become President as well as taking on a range of other roles in DH and RCP and King’s Fund on the back of it. I have never regretted taking on the role. It gives you a great experience of how medical membership organisations and charities are run, and of policy and communications, of writing and editing and you get to meet many interesting colleagues from both within and outside the BGS Other recent post holders such as Dr Zoe Wyrko, Prof Adam Gordon and Prof Simon Conroy haven’t done too badly for themselves and also gained much from the role. Its a great opportunity to help the society, the speciality, the medical profession and the care of older people and its great fun.

    David Oliver
    Immediate Past President BGS and Current Vice President RCP London

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