Standing out recently for its successful work organizing MEDtalks, McGill’s MEDLIFE Chapter has a lot to be proud of. This chapter continues to grow since it was launched in 2010 and sets high goals for the future. Our interview with Canada’s biggest chapter delves into how they leverage social media to grow the organization’s presence on campus, what creative events they plan to keep members engaged and the new “UpClose events” they swapped in for general meetings.
When and how did your chapter begin?
MEDLIFE McGill started in 2010. In 2011, led by Nicole Milward, our chapter greatly expanded our impact on campus. Through effective PR and campus presence, our chapter sent over 100 students to participate in Mobile Clinics that year. Since then, MEDLIFE McGill started many initiatives on campus to further increase awareness of international development and healthcare issues, student body involvement, and fundraising events.
What strategies did you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus?
Since McGill has such a large population, we have been using mainly social media to promote MEDLIFE to students. This involves Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our website. We also promote MEDLIFE through weekly emails to our general members, as well as to various faculties and departments to expand our membership. For specific events and trips promotion, we have committee members make announcements before classes begin, accompanied by PowerPoint slides. In addition, our committees have monthly tabling dates around campus and residences, where they promote upcoming events and trips, as well as the general goals and objectives of MEDLIFE.
What system do you use to recruit new members? What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?
At the beginning of every semester, we participate in our university’s club fair where new and returning students can browse through the various clubs on campus. At the club fair, we introduce the activities and accomplishments of MEDLIFE McGill and ask the interested students to sign up for our Listserv, which is our electronic mailing system that sends weekly updates about our upcoming events. Afterwards, we hold our first General Meeting for our newly interested students, where we delve into the details of our specific events on campus, as well as our Mobile and Development Trips abroad. There, we also promote the applications to our student committees that our general members can join. Depending on their specific interests, new students can join a committee that suits their strengths and how they wish to contribute to MEDLIFE, whether it be through Fundraising, Tutorials, Sponsorships, Trips or Events. After the committee applications have been processed and its members selected, the executive team will put together a Club Workshop for the new committee members to discuss the nuances of our involvement on campus and abroad, as well as boost team morale. After the club workshop, the new committee members have their own responsibilities under their portfolio; instructed by the executive team member in charge of the committee, the members will contribute to the on-campus events and activities of MEDLIFE McGill.
What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year?
To keep our members interested, we hold various events and fundraisers on campus. Every month, we have UpClose events, which are drop-in information sessions that we opted to do instead of general meetings. At UpClose, have various booths set up where members can speak to our various executives and committee members about trips, fundraisers, and events. Since 2012, we have also been holding semesterly MEDTalks conferences, where various speakers from the McGill and Montreal community are invited to talk about issues in developing countries. This semester, the topic of our MEDTalks conference is Healthcare in Marginalized Countries and will feature a McGill professor of medicine, an addictions counselor who worked in rural, native communities, and also the founder of our chapter. As for fundraisers, the past couple of years we have tried to focus our events to be more aligned with the three objectives of MEDLIFE (medicine, education, and development). At the beginning of this semester, we had our 5K: Taking STEPS walk/run through McGill campus as well as clubbing night. Next semester, we will have our second annual multicultural coffeehouse, where we invite clubs and students to perform and also educate members on the diversity in McGill. We are also planning a restaurant night in downtown Montreal, de-stressing yoga sessions, and an event at our campus bar. All the funds raised goes towards the MEDLIFE Fund, but this year we are specifically raising money towards building a cafeteria in Lima, Peru, which we feel is a substantial goal for our members.
What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2014-2015)?
Our goals this year include raising more awareness for our Mobile Clinics and our new DevCorps Trips on campus through more effective student promotions and events, increase our Local Initiatives projects both on campus and in Montreal, and reach our fundraising goal of $15,000. Our chapter has been rapidly expanding our on-campus impact in the last 2 years; we aim to keep the ball rolling year, as well as strengthen our promotional focus for our international volunteer trips.