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Looking back on a year of change at the RSM

Q: Humphrey, in your first article for RSM Engage 12 months ago, you wrote that in times of chaos, rapid beneficial changes can be instigated in organisations. How has the RSM continued to benefit and learn from the immediate switch to online education as a result of the pandemic?

A: One of the benefits of the switch to online education has been the expansion of the RSM’s global reach, which has been quite staggering during the pandemic. Undoubtedly the COVID-19 Series and In Conversation Live events​, together with our online Section education programmes, have enhanced the reputation of the RSM.

Indeed, it has been a privilege to be associated with the organisation during this time.

There have been disadvantages, of course, not least that people have been away from the building. The forced closure of our conferencing and hospitality facilities during the pandemic have led to a loss of income, which has had a serious impact on the charity’s finances. Thankfully as more events and gatherings are now being resumed at our 1 Wimpole Street building in London, we can address the shortfall.

Q: A lot of work has gone into planning and implementing new arrangements for quality assurance at the RSM. What do you believe their impact will be for members and delegates taking part in our education programmes?

A: My aim in leading the changes to the way in which we assign continuous professional development (CPD) at the RSM, has been to enhance the experience of our members and delegates. Prior to my appointment as RSM Dean, CPD was managed through the Royal College of Physicians. We have now separated from the Royal College of Physicians (in a mutually very happy way) and, through the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, now award our own CPD.

Along with the independence this gives us, we have more accountability and we have started a Programme Approval Committee (PAC). This committee meets four times a year and oversees the awarding of CPD to all programmes delivered by the RSM. To date the feedback has been very positive and I would be interested to hear any further views. Do please email me at

Q: A year ago, a consultation with the RSM Sections (representing 55 branches of medicine) resulted in a lot of enthusiastic comment about the education provided at the Society. How has the feedback been translated into new developments and new ways of working?

A: Through the work of our Sections and RSM staff, and with the support of Professor Nik Patel (Chair of the RSM’s Academic Board), we are striving to promote and deliver consistently relevant, high-quality meetings with excellent and innovative educational content.

In the last two years there has been an annual review undertaken with each of the Sections and there are now more regular interactions to ensure the work of the education programme is supported. Overall, the feedback has been good, and I’m pleased to say there is an overwhelming sense that the Section Presidents and Council members enjoy delivering programmes on behalf of the Society. 

Q: In October this year, the RSM launched a new five-year strategy. One of the four key pillars of the strategy is education. How do you believe the education strategy will better equip healthcare professionals in their learning and development?

A: Education is at the very heart of the RSM and is the focus of our charitable purpose. By creating events and other education initiatives which are high quality, relevant and specifically tailored to the learning requirements of healthcare professionals, we are able to help members and event participants to keep abreast of medical developments and maintain their knowledge. As part of our new strategy, we will be enhancing our learning resources and integrating these into our education programme. In addition, RSM members can look forward to the networking opportunities that we will integrate into our programmes. We know that by helping people to create and enhance connections within our healthcare community, this supports their learning and professional development.

Q: Section volunteers who contribute so much to the RSM's education activities are the lifeblood of the Society. How do you get involved with and support the important work of the Section councils?

A: The RSM values its members very much and is extremely grateful to those healthcare professionals who take part in running Sections, becoming Council members, organising meetings and taking part in RSM activities. Without this large body of volunteers who give their time so freely, the RSM would be unable to operate and thrive.

I hope that people who take part in Section activities enjoy them as much as I did when I was involved with the Coloproctology Section as President, Secretary and Council member for many years. In recent years there has been a lot of work undertaken to ensure that staff and management of the RSM are working in partnership with volunteers from our Sections. By creating “One RSM”, it greatly benefits our members as well as others participating in our education programme. The Section reviews, the new academic board and the ‘Dean’s Door’ programme are all helping us to facilitate this.

We’re always looking for new blood and it’s important to attract trainees and the next generation into the RSM, particularly as trainees bring energy and a new vision. If anybody is interested in getting involved, I’d be very happy to talk to them.

As a final note, I would like to thank all RSM staff who do so much to support the Sections delivering the educational programmes as well as the other highly regarded events put on by the Society. Working from home, throughout the pandemic, they have done a great job and really should be applauded.

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