As the 2022-23 academic year signals exciting new programmes of education at the RSM, Vice-President Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE talks to RSM Engage about how she is supporting the Society to meet its strategic goal of being the leading provider of continuing learning to healthcare professionals.
You’ve recently taken on the role as joint Vice-President of the Royal Society of Medicine. What experience do you bring to the RSM and what are you aiming to achieve during your three-year term in office?
HB-J: I have just ended my highly enjoyable two-year Presidency of the Psychiatry Section at the RSM and immediately before that, was President of the Medical Women's Federation. In both of those past roles I made significant contributions.
In my VP role at the RSM I am planning to work with RSM staff and Sections and turn my attention to current affairs. It will be a way of connecting the RSM membership to great thinkers and doers tackling some of the worst social inequalities. I started the successful Mind Matters in Psychiatry series in 2019 and it’s a good example of what we could do.
I am also planning to continue contributing to the wonderful In Conversation Live series as I have loved interviewing people for the RSM over the past two years.
Finally, I am already starting to explore exciting new initiatives that will help to bring global health challenges to the fore with the RSM at the centre of learning.
I hope members will feel free to send me their thoughts and suggestions.
What does becoming an RSM Vice-President involve? Are there specific areas where your expertise is particularly sought-after?
HB-J: Aside from the innovations I’ve mentioned, the role of VP, in my view, is all about supporting the strategy of the RSM, being available at all times to both our CEO and our President to support the numerous in person and online events we provide our participants and contributing my expertise to the Council and Committees so that the RSM can achieve its goals.
There is also a deeper, more psychological role, which I feel is about supporting people at all times in the multiple initiatives they may be working on. I have loved helping host the Covid webinars and particularly enjoyed attending several events set up by other Sections to show RSM support in my VP role.
You have been a member of the Royal Society of Medicine since 2015. How does your experience as a member inform your work with your Council Trustee colleagues and the RSM’s senior management team?
HB-J: Having been initially a member, then a Psychiatry Council member, then President of Psychiatry followed by a move to the RSM Council and now VP, I feel I have lived many permutations of interacting with different elements of the RSM.
The great thing is that each and every one was highly stimulating and enjoyable. Each new role allowed me to understand even more the dedication of senior management to all its members and to the mission of the RSM around education at the highest standards.
Why do you believe it is important for clinicians to play a leadership role at the RSM? Do you have any advice to younger doctors and healthcare professionals wishing to develop their leadership and professional development skills?
HB-J: The RSM has always been present for trainees and young doctors. The prizes and the mentoring we offer are significant and something we are renowned for. My advice to young colleagues is to take part in as many meetings, career events and conferences as possible and not to shy away from entering their first essay prize competitions. The sense of belonging that being a member of the RSM provides is unparalleled.
In three years’ time, what impact do you aim to have made in the progress of the RSM towards its strategic goal?
HB-J: The RSM has medical education at its core. It has proven its excellence with the COVID-19 Series and the In Conversation Live evenings plus all of our specialist events, in the most difficult of circumstances. If I can be part this longstanding established Society and contribute to its ability to give so much to our members day-in day-out for years to come, it will have been three years well spent!