Making impact the priority
by Jade Okene and Olamide Dada
Upon joining the HLA Programme, Melanin Medics had existed for just over two years during which we had experienced tremendous growth and expansion of our activities. The focus of the organisation when founded in 2017 was to function as an online platform sharing both experiences and advice to Black African and Caribbean Aspiring Medics and Medical Students and showcasing positive representation of this particular demographic.
However, having increased both our reach and capacity we desired for the organisation to have a greater impact on those we serve as well as those who support and engage with our organisation. The maturation of our organisation led to a new phase of development within our strategic direction and individual capacity.
We recognised the need for a representative organisation enabling long-term support starting from pre-medical school entry right through to practising as a doctor leading to a generational impact. Having transitioned from operating solely as an online platform to a fully functioning charitable organisation, it was essential that we determined the strategic direction of the organisation moving forwards. It was great to be able to use this as the focus of the HLA scholar project undertaken where our skillset of project management, leadership and delegation were heavily augmented.
Review the past and remember your beginning
Year on year, we had delivered a number of activities and events which had been very successful in reaching our target audience.
In order to determine what we wanted the future of our organisation to look like, it was necessary for us to review our activities and outcomes that we had achieved thus far. This led to the publishing of our 2019 Impact Report. It was great to feature the stories of young individuals we had helped who had also gone onto to help others.
The impact report also helped to highlight the great contributions of many volunteers as well as quantify the great successes of our organisation, including 90% of aspiring medics we had supported in 2019 were successful in gaining offers to Medical School.
Like many, COVID-19 had a big impact on our organisation. We were forced to reassess our normal activities and adapt quickly to ensure a consistent impact and the fulfilment of our mission. In retrospect, COVID-19 presented us with a great window of opportunity.
Opportunities to expand our reach and our activities as well as work with other organisations. We held a number of online events reaching a far wider audience and continued to strengthen our presence of social media. We gained a better understanding of our target audience and were able to advocate for them throughout the course of the pandemic. We also developed and launched a new project in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the wellbeing of Black African and Caribbean medical students and doctors – the Mind Us Project.
Recognise unique windows of opportunity
Window of opportunity: ‘An opportunity to do something that will only last for a short time and needs to be taken advantage of quickly’.
The Black Lives Matter movement significantly impacted our organisation. With the world’s focus on systemic racism in our society, seeing how it presented itself in medicine was insightful for many.
For us, having knowledge of how race inequality in medicine affects Black African and Caribbean medics, we have worked consistently to tackle these particular problems through our activities. This meant that we were suitably positioned to gain the support of others who recognised the need for our organisations work.
Throughout the course of the year, we were able to better understand our target audience and we increased our partnerships with stakeholders and key organisations such as: BMJ Racism in Medicine Special Edition, Medical Women’s Federation, HLAxLORDs, GMC Case Study, BMJ JMF Conference and HLA Live.
The main thing we were hoping to achieve was a greater understanding of the future of our organisation and the steps we would need to make to continually promote diversity in medicine, widen aspirations and aid the career progression of Black African and Caribbean future and current doctors.
We were encouraged to think bigger than what had been achieved already and have no doubt that the organisation will go on to have an even bigger impact as we continue to scale and develop through our innovative capabilities.
If you would like to find out further information regarding Melanin Medics Charitable Organisation, you can follow us on Twitter @melaninmedics, Instagram @melaninmedics and Melanin Medics on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can find out more information about The Mind Us Project here.