This puts forward some thoughts on increasing the membership of the British Society for Rehabilitation Medicine (BSRM), both why, and how.
Increasing the membership of the BSRM will carry several advantages:
- increased political power. Though numbers are not everything, it is an important factor.
- increased pool of ideas and people to help society activities. At present a small pool of people undertake most of the work, usually within their own time in addition to their clinical, academic and managerial NHS work.
- increased income. The least important reason.
There are two approaches:
- ensure that every doctor having, or training to obtain, specialist registration with the General Medical Council GMC is and remains a member.
- recruit actively other doctors and other professionals who have a special interest in and are involved in rehabilitation.
If the purpose of the BSRM is “To increase knowledge about and understanding of, and to advocate for, the role of doctors who are working within the field of rehabilitation.” then the first approach is the main one.
But, if the purpose of the BSRM is “To increase knowledge about and understanding of, and to advocate for, rehabilitation, with a bias towards supporting and developing the role of doctors involved in rehabilitation.” then the second is much more appropriate.
This document assumes we (BSRM members) are more interested in rehabilitation than in doctors – which is not to say that we are uninterested in the role of doctors.
Recruiting doctors and others who have or wish to increase their interests in, knowledge of, skills in, and practice of rehabilitation has many advantages:
- greatly increases the alliances we can form with other groups to support us politically;
- potentially leading to the BSRM being the first (rather than, often, the last) port of call for people wanting a rehabilitation input
- massively increases the pool of people we can approach to join the society
- automatically gives us a much broader perspective to use when writing national documents, and an increased pool f people to contribute help.
Starting with doctors, we can approach consultants and trainees in many other specialties who have a greater or lesser interest in rehabilitation and/or who are providing rehabilitation input into teams. This would include, for example some people working or training in:
- palliative care
- trauma, orthopaedics and rheumatology
- sports and exercise medicine
- learning disability
- cardiology and respiratory medicine
- paediatrics, especially community paediatrics and paediatric neuro-disability
- occupational health
All these specialities and many more see people with longer-term disability needing rehabilitation and a proportion of doctors contribute what they can to their rehabilitation.
We could consider a reduced membership charge for a year so that they could see if they find the society of interest. Given the demands associated with the pandemic, I think we could well capture enough consultants to double the membership. In return, we could offer them one or more of:
- mentorship and training on an ad hoc basis from a local consultant. This could include access to training given to trainees
- reduced fee for any BSRM conferences for two years
- advice and support on acquiring knowledge and skills
We could also continue to recruit more experienced non-medical clinicians from other professions.
One way to start achieving this is for all BSRM special interest groups and other working parties to invite 1-2 non-members interested in their topic to join and contribute to the work of the group. In this way they would start to see that we do have a very broad scope and are positively interested in and welcoming to the input of people with knowledge even if not formally accredited in rehabilitation.
The second aspect of increasing membership is to reduce the numbers leaving – if members do leave while still active. If someone leaves, I think we should send them a simple short letter, acknowledging their decision and wishing the well, and then asking:
- why are they leaving
- are they stopping all clinical work?
- is there any other reason?
- how do they think the society could be improved?
They would be asked simply to reply in free text.
18th November 2020