If you’re reading this, this is a sign to apply for that position in NiMSA, FAMSA or IFMSA.

I sat down with Abdulhammed Babatunde and Oluwawapelumi Akin-Ajani, two very active UIMSAites in the MSA space, in separate interviews.
As at the time of the interview, Abdulhammed was the Local officer for FAMSA SCOMER (Standing Committee on Medical Education and Research) for the University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association. He is now the Chairperson of FAMSA SCOMER all around Africa and the Director of Media Externa as part of the Headquarters’ Board.
Oluwawapelumi is the National Director for the Standing Committee on Professional Exchange in the Nigerian Medical Students’ Association. Previously in IFMSA, He was the Publications and Content Creation Assistant to the VPPRC (Vice President for Public Relations and Communication).

These gentlemen have functioned in different capacities in UIMSA, NiMSA, FAMSA and IFMSA.

We talked about their involvements in these associations, how much they’ve achieved and how other UIMSAites can tow the same line.

What was the nature of their work with these organisations?
Specifically, as the local officer for SCOMER, Abdulhammed was in charge of local projects that help to improve education in UIMSA. He handled a couple of that and also communicated the activities of the chairperson of SCOMER to other UIMSAites.
On the other hand, Oluwawapelumi handled content designing, media, publications and branding on both IFMSA and NiMSA levels before being selected to be the National Director.

UIMSA is quite huge and that is a problem…well, sort of.
A recurring theme in both of the interviews was the fact that UIMSA’s structure might be the reason why there isn’t a lot of participation of its members in umbrella bodies.
According to Akin-Ajani, it’s not UIMSA’s fault. “UIMSA is old. College of Medicine, Ibadan has been around for about 70 years and IFMSA was established that same year too. I think it was UIMSA along with some countries that set up FAMSA. A lot of our [UIMSA] structures are what we already had before these international associations started coming up and then NiMSA started coming up.”
He claims these structures shield UIMSAites from a lot of politics that go on at the national level of MSAs.

“Only UIMSAites can be part of the advisory board of FAMSA because the headquarters is in UCH.”
There are quite a number of positions that can be filled, particularly by UIMSAites in FAMSA. First is the advisory board which is specifically for members of UIMSA. The advisory/headquarters’ board is part of FAMSA Headquarters located at the University College Hospital. Quite comfortable, as Abdulhammed says the application is a much easier process than most people think, considering “in reality, only a handful of people would apply, if you have any.”
This is very similar in NiMSA. Although, if you seek executive positions in NiMSA, you might be up for a real fight. In the words of Akin-Ajani, this is a point where we would like to move on.

“Participating in UIMSA activities is actually more stressful than FAMSA”
In this season of choosing your battles, you might want to hear from people who have experience working in and outside of UIMSA. From the arguably unnecessarily long physical meetings to the administrative bureaucracy in the Senate, it’s very difficult not to agree with Abdulhammed.
Akin-Ajani who is a Congressman does not entirely agree with this. To him, being a Congressman helps communicate the activities of NiMSA and IFMSA to the Congress and also to correct misconceptions.

“Padding up your CV is reason enough to join.”
On the question of valid reasons to join, Abdulhammed had this to say. “Things are competitive now, and for many positions, you have to write beforehand about yourself and your experiences, before you’re given the chance for an interview.”
“However, if you keep doing it solely for this reason, you’ll get tired along the way. You’ll just keep taking roles and in the real sense, you did not impact anything. More than that, it is important that you develop yourself through these roles, you learn interpersonal and administrative skills too.”
He says doing it is a good thing but it should be more than that, so you don’t break down.

“I’m always tired.”
Coincidentally, the first advice from both of them was this – not to get involved if you’ve not found your feet in medical school. “You’d be busier and it would affect your academics, primarily. You might not have free time like other people.”
And for the header, Akin-Ajani says he’s “really always tired and there are times when I’ll be interested in doing stuff but I just know that I can’t pull it off because school is calling me. And then there’s the aspect of me not being able to put in as much as I’d love to in school.”
“There are just times that you’re not able to put in as much as a result of your tiredness.”
It’s just about priority. There are some things you have to sacrifice for the other.

How do you get started?
The posts of Chairpersons for Standing Committees – SCOPE, SCOHE, SCOMER, SCOPUB and SCOPA – are open to MSAs from all around Africa for FAMSA. Specifically for the MSAs, there are Local Officers. A call for these usually goes out at the beginning of each term. The requirements for these positions are quite the bare minimum and thanks to the gods that have held participation down in UIMSA, you’re most likely to get in if you apply before the deadline (particularly for the Local Officer posts).

In NiMSA, there are 5 additional Standing Committees to address the needs of medical students in Nigeria and have similar openings to FAMSA. Just like FAMSA, you must keep your ears down for openings. In the next few weeks, Calls for Local Officers would start to roll out. Make sure to apply.

It’s a little more complex in IFMSA since the number of applicants is usually more but Akin-Ajani advises that you “ensure that you’ve done work with other people, maybe a little bit in UIMSA.”
A lot of times, they “want you to be active in your country first before they give you international responsibilities. They want to know that you’ve done valuable work.”
A good place to start his journey in IFMSA, considering the skills he had were ideal for the MSI which is IFMSA’s biannual magazine, Akin-Ajani worked on two editions of the magazine with other med students from around the world as a Content Designer. He suggests that people who have intentions of going through that route “know how to package your CV first and motivation letters, include your past work, put a link there so that they can check what your works look like.”
Currently, applications for MSI 45 are open. Also, put your ears down for other opportunities by joining IFMSA’s server (hyperlink::https://groups.google.com/a/ifmsa.org/g/ifmsa-general?pli=1)

You can start with taking a local officer role or joining a committee in UIMSA. It depends on how big your aspiration is, really, and how much you can sacrifice for it.