Happy 1st Anniversary to BIMA - the country’s first national student-led Indian Medical Society!
We’ve come a long way from our humble beginnings of a shower thought by Co-founder, Harroop. “Wouldn’t it be great to have a place where all Indian people in medicine can interact and help each other out?”.
A year on from that revelation, we took the time to interview the current leaders of BIMA, Harroop Bola (President), Viren Rathod (Vice President) and Niraj Kumar (Vice President), to ask them a few things about the association’s past, present, and exciting future.
Harroop Bola (President) Viren Rathod (Vice President)Niraj Kumar (Vice President)
“With BIMA, it really is like a child, our members, our supporters and our team really are family, and we’re confident to see it grow and mature into something big.”
What were your intentions when applying for the role?
H - Having the privilege as a Co-founder, and moving into my clinical years meant that applying for president was an opportunity for me to help mould BIMA with our initial aims, strengthening the student experience within the British Indian community, and not only from an academic perspective. We founded BIMA on the principle of putting any and every idea into fruition, and that is something we aim to continue to steer BIMA in the direction of this year. For any organisation, sustainability is key, with a clear directive leadership from the foundation required, and being president fulfills that role.
V - Founding a society and creating a legacy are two separate things.
This role allows me the freedom to have the same impact in steering and shaping what BIMA’s legacy becomes, whilst the time to also lead the larger initiatives within the British Indian Medical community. I’ve always been keen in providing a holistic experience for medical students, from Welfare to Academics, and this last year I’ve seen the impact a few students can make. This year I will push BIMA to be more than what it was, strive to become the main hub for all students and doctors, and to continually support our members throughout their journey. As Founders we always joke that in 20 years we’ll still turn up to the retreats or attend ‘How to smash medical school’ talks, but beneath the jokes lies the fact we are always going to be involved with BIMA!
N - After spending last year as Treasurer, I knew I wanted to help make a difference, and I knew I wanted to help grow BIMA by bringing the personality and work ethic to contribute towards meaningful change. The most important thing for me was to ensure that we continued to work on building our community in-person, and to create spaces for all our different streams offering relevant support regardless of whom or where our members are.
What has BIMA accomplished in the past year?
V - BIMA has amassed around 2000 members, from Medical students in Europe to Consultants here in London, but it's not the numbers I’m proud of. The impact we have on each individual is something you can’t reduce to a number and is the main reason we started this organisation. From our successful ‘Teaching series’ to our ‘Women in Surgery Panel discussion’ to ‘Desi dates socials’ and all the way to our fundraiser for ‘India’s Covid Relief’, this year has been full of variety! BIMA has grown to hold an international reputation and had an unparalleled growth in its first year, however what I associate our first year with is the progression of BIMA from its earlier stages to now. We started off doing events with 20-50 attendees and within months hosted events with 300+ members, and have built strong partnerships with companies like CMR Surgical. Having laid a strong foundation in the first year, I can't wait to see what we accomplish in the years to come.
Apart from COVID, what are the biggest challenges BIMA faces, and how are you looking to overcome these?
V - The largest challenge we face is maintaining and ensuring what BIMA produces is consistently improving over the years. This, however, comes with time, experience, and support. Having a dedicated and enthusiastic team around you makes all the difference and it's reassuring to know how many students and doctors every year are interested in helping. The largest challenge that we face this year would be the transition from
Online to In-Person, the importance of having solid leadership and effective communication established earlier in the summer meant we were ready to hit the ground running. Within our committee there’s enough experience in running Balls, Conferences, Series, and about anything we can think of. Having absolute faith in my committee's ability, I see these challenges rather as an opportunity - an opportunity to try out new ideas, meet like minded individuals and, most importantly, have fun doing so!
How are you looking to take your vision forward to shape BIMA this year?
H - Having spent the last year nurturing the grassroots of BIMA alongside our amazing committee, we’re hoping to strengthen and reinforce our foundations into a wider organisation that collaboratively works in partnership with governing bodies and like-minded groups. The medical community is not a standalone community, it's an interconnected network, which we’re hoping to amplify the voice and representation of the members within. This year more than ever, we step into a transitional period from a remote pandemic landscape to an in-person one. In part of this, our goal is to adopt a blended approach that inclusively involves all of our members, whilst hosting monumental in-person events (in other words, we want some fun socials!).
N - Some of our ideas and plans for the coming year are very exciting, and it starts within our team. Last year’s team was excellent, and we have since added new committee members from diverse and experience-rich backgrounds. I have the utmost faith in our team, and we aim to use our combined experience to come together and to provide you with the very best of opportunities, in-person events, and to work with partners that can offer you great benefit. Look out for our new academic tutorials, research wing, and balls!
Where do you see BIMA in 5 years?
H - With BIMA, it really is like a child, our members, our supporters and our team really are family, and we’re confident to see it grow and mature into something big. In 5 years we’re hoping to have set the solid foundations of BIMA, working towards supporting medics every step of the way in their education and careers. Most importantly, we want to strengthen the progressive voice of representation within the British Indian medical community onto a more national stage, throughout every stage of medical training. Of course, this can only be accomplished with the persistent diligence of our team and inspired leadership working towards these aspirations. I believe we will be able to reach our goals alongside working with our experienced advisors and patrons.
N - It’s hard to predict that far - if you’d have said we’d be at this stage a year from back when I first joined BIMA, I wouldn’t have believed you! As a team, we consistently strive to do things that are unique, working towards BIMA being a place for everyone to find their niche. We’ll keep on adding new ideas, new people, and we hope that with the continued work we put in, we can guide BIMA along our vision of providing representation, opportunities and community for all. There is still much to be done, many new members to be added, and some partners we would love to work with!
That’s it from us (but stay tuned for our next article)! We hope to welcome you to the BIMA family, and look forward to seeing you at the upcoming events!
By Aishwarya, Sameer and Jayantika