This month the RSM’s new strategy was unveiled. Centring around a vision of better healthcare for better lives, the strategy sets out the RSM’s key pillars and goals for the next five years. Together, the RSM’s President Professor Roger Kirby and Chief Executive Michele Acton discuss the new strategy and what it means for our section volunteers, members and staff.
The launch of this strategy is a significant milestone for the RSM – what does it personally mean to you?
Roger Kirby (RK)
It’s been exciting to be involved in formulating the way ahead for the RSM. This is the very first time a detailed evaluation spanning the entire organisation has been carried out, from our members, our building and the technology we use; to our people, capabilities and our commitment to environmental sustainability.
I’m delighted to have been able to be involved in helping this historic and influential Royal Society build on its achievements, notably the outstanding education and learning our sections and teams have been delivering during the 18 months of the pandemic.
Michele Acton (MA)
The most effective charities have a clear strategy which helps them to ensure they are maximising their impact. By developing and publishing this strategy, the RSM has taken a big step in clarifying what it is trying to achieve and what we need to do to meet our goals.
Our strategy enables a common understanding for everyone of where we are going, which is really important for me as the Chief Executive. It also sets out a framework to help us make decisions on priorities, resources and investment. All of which will ultimately benefit our members, funders, staff and anyone who engages with us.
How will members and section volunteers benefit from the new enhancements the RSM will be making? What about others who are involved with the RSM – what difference will they see?
Everyone will benefit from clarity and enhanced quality of the education and learning resources which the RSM will now provide; as well as our re-developed and improved networking and innovation support programme.
Those who visit and stay with us at No.1 Wimpole Street will appreciate a building that is welcoming and modern, and we will be developing new and attractive online spaces too.
Our multispecialty education programme will be relevant, flexible and applicable to clinicians and healthcare professionals of every discipline.
Sharing learning is at the heart of this strategy, which brings together all our teams and resources – education, technology, marketing, our building, hospitality and more – in a co-ordinated way so that section volunteers are better supported to deliver an outstanding education programme.
From a survey earlier this year, we know how highly our members value the use of digital resources and online access for past webinars and events. We also understand that members are interested in leadership and career-based training content and that they are keen to make use of the RSM’s club facilities to network and connect with others in healthcare.
The strategy aims to respond to this feedback by being clear on our approach to the education we offer and our goals to improve our services for members, be that in-person or online. For others the strategy will spell out clearly what the RSM does, and what it does not do, and sets out how we will deliver what is required for everyone who has an interest in our work.
The strategy talks about ‘transforming the RSM for the next century’. Given the day-to-day demands facing healthcare professionals today, and more broadly the many health and global challenges that lie ahead, what do you believe is the future for the RSM?
The RSM is in the business of providing evidence-based, relevant and up-to-date medical education to a broad range of healthcare professionals in the UK and those overseas. Remarkably, the sum total of medical and scientific data now doubles annually, and we are all, to quote the late John Naisbitt, “drowning in information but starved for knowledge”.
Our role is to distil this welter of available medical information into key learning points, on a “need-to-know” basis and then to communicate these in an evidence-based, engaging and understandable way.
Recent events have highlighted the important and unique role the RSM plays and our ability to adapt to new challenges. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a monumental effort by so many people from a wide range of specialties working together.
The breadth and depth of this multi-disciplinary approach, together with the RSM’s convening power, has meant that we have been able to share essential learning about COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, while at the same time continuing our ongoing programme of specialist and general education.
The future for the RSM means building on everything we have learned over the last 18 months, and the changes that we have implemented, and ensuring that we continue to modernise so that we can support healthcare professionals in the years ahead.
Work had already begun on developing a new strategy for the RSM prior to the pandemic but had to be halted. How has the fallout from the pandemic influenced the RSM’s thinking for this re-imagined strategy?
Work on the strategy may have come to a temporary stop in March 2020, but the pandemic accelerated and embedded our “pivot to digital” strategy in a way we could hardly have imagined two years ago. Our webinars are widely praised and appreciated, and our audiences, both in the UK and abroad, have increased exponentially.
We now need to build on this with innovative programmes delivered by high profile and trusted individuals in order to keep enhancing the RSM’s profile as we deliver our charitable mission of sharing learning and supporting innovation.
We had travelled a fair way in our thinking around a new strategy by early 2020. When the first lockdown came, we had to react quickly to move all of our education programme online, support home working where possible, and to develop our response to support healthcare professionals through the pandemic.
During this time we learned a lot about the RSM in terms of our capabilities, our adaptability and our brand value, convening power and reach. We also trialled and piloted different programmes to inform our thinking. All of these proved valuable lessons and insights that we have now brought to the new strategy, alongside the commitment to develop a sustainable financial model to ensure we can continue to thrive for many years to come.
What has been your proudest moment at the RSM since you became President and Chief Executive?
I have been immensely proud to see the RSM spread its wings and deliver outstanding medical education to a greatly expanded audience using virtual media. As a result of the incredibly hard work of our fantastic staff and much-valued volunteers I believe that our profile and brand is now stronger than it has ever been. Our mission now is to build on this success and proceed boldly forth into the future.
I think the way staff, Council members, section volunteers, members, partner organisations, speakers and philanthropic donors have pulled together to support the RSM during the pandemic has been fantastic.
It makes me very proud to work for an organisation that so many people care about and are willing it to succeed.
Read the strategy