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Interview with Michelle Lam

Takeaways from AMSAHK

Tell us about your time in AMSAHK. What were some of your most memorable moments? How did it change you as a person?

During my time in AMSAHK, I was in the Standing Committee of Medical Education (SCOME). Of the events we organised, I’d say the most memorable was the condom-making workshop held in collaboration with Sagami. The inspiration for the collaboration came from my roommate at the time who participated in a similar initiative during her Enrichment Year; this was how I found out about Sagami and established a partnership with them. Aside from the hands-on process of making condoms we also found a doctor to give a talk on STDs and issues related to sexual health. Overall, it was an interesting pilot project to be part of! 

From leading this event, I learned that it is important to take on a learning mindset whether in formal or informal situations with the people you cross paths with, and who knows, you might even find some common grounds to build a collaborative project together! 

Did you join any conferences during your time in AMSAHK? If so, what are some core memories you have?

I went to a few conferences including the Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference (APMEC) and AMEE. While the content of the conference was always a great learning experience, the core memories I had were getting to know and collaborating with people from around the world with different backgrounds and perspectives, but all working together towards a common purpose. 

I would say that it’s vital to put yourself out there and to not be afraid to apply for the opportunities that you are interested in; It is a great experience to attend, but even if you don’t get accepted, the application process itself prompts self-reflection and identification of areas for growth. From this process, you can learn and improve and always try again!

Contribution in IFMSA

Even though your work in AMSAHK was concluded, I understand that you’re now a part of the International Team for SCOME in IFMSA. Can you tell us a little about your duties in SCOME IT, and what motivated you to take part in it?

For the 2022-23 term, I worked as the IFMSA SCOME External Affairs Assistant, and the role covers both external responsibilities as the assistant of the Liaison Officer for Medical Education Issues (LME) as well as internal responsibilities as a core SCOME International Team member. Some work that I have done this term include assisting the LME with delegation preparations, policy document coordination, and abstract submissions. We also support SCOME members interested in inviting externals to their national initiatives such as CAMSA-Cameroon’s webinar with WFME on Accreditation and Quality Assurance. 

As for my reasons for joining the International Team, I enjoy being part of the IFMSA community which continues to always inspire me. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with the amazing SCOMEdians who I look up to and continuously learn from. This position has given me invaluable experience for personal development and growth. Aside from that, it also provides me with insights into medical education as a potential career path which I would love to further explore.

As an IFMSA trainer, how has your experience been with Capacity Building training, and have you trained anyone afterwards?

I participated in IFMSA’s Advocacy in Medical Education Training and Training New Trainers workshops. With the skillsets learned, I have facilitated some sessions locally at AMSAHK interschools; regionally at ACTION, other NMO events, and webinars; as well as internationally at IFMSA General Assembly SCOME sessions. Recently, I was a trainer for the Training Medical Education Trainers workshop at IFMSA’s August Meeting 2023 in Delhi, India. 

On a broader level, would you advise the members of our executive committee to join IFMSA and why? If so, how might they prepare themselves to join the organisation?

Definitely. So far, it’s been an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience for me and I would recommend it to anyone in AMSAHK right now! There are many things you can prepare for the position, such as by talking to Regional Assistants or any other members on the International and Regional Teams about the workload in their respective departments and what skill sets they’ll need for the role, attending IFMSA General Assemblies to know more about the Federation in general and exchange ideas with delegates from other National Member Organisations.

Aside from that though, a more personal way of preparing to join an international organisation such as IFMSA is to recognise the importance of cultural competency - as you join more opportunities and interact with people from around the world, you need to be aware that the same interaction and situation can be perceived through different understandings and perspectives based on one’s social and cultural backgrounds; thus, there is a need for awareness and self-reflection to navigate communication and transparency that allows for optimal teamwork within an international setting. 

Personal Endeavors

On a more personal level, I understand that (at the time of the interview) you are currently undertaking your Enrichment Year. How has it been going so far?

I’m intercalating a Masters in Science on Global Health Delivery in Rwanda at the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), which is located in a more rural region called Butaro. The program I’m studying has a diverse cohort, and I’ve been able to learn more about the local context through home visits as well as conducting research with BIO Ventures for Global Health at the Nyamata District Hospital. A memorable experience included attending MEDSAR Day organised by the Medical Students’ Association of Rwanda and getting to meet local medical students and learn more about their experiences. 

Finally, could you share with us some of the career goals you might have for the future?

I’m currently still learning about the different possibilities. I’m interested in exploring career options potentially in areas of medical education and global health, but would also like to engage in clinical work as a future doctor. I think they can be synergistic in supporting patients’ health! 

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