Canadian Federation of Medical Students
The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is the national body that represents over 6000 medical undergraduate trainees at fourteen
medical schools across Canada. Established in 1977, the CFMS has a history of representing the medical students of Canada.
According to the organization's webstie, its threefold mandate seeks to:
#To support medical students by representing their voices among the national organizations that direct or influence the policy environment or delivery of medical education in Canada. It also represents medical students in organizations with broader health care mandates. A key function of representation is to undertake political lobbying and advocacy at the Federal level on behalf of medical students.
#To provide services that support the needs of member medical students.
#To communicate national medical education issues of importance to individual medical students and to facilitate communication and interaction of medical students among member schools. [ [http://www.cfms.org/ Canadian Federation of Medical Students ] ]
Structure and GovernanceMembershipThe constitution and bylaws describe the structure of the organization as a federation of medical societies. Medical societies are designated “institutional members” and pay annual fees that are calculated on the basis of enrolment. Institutional membership automatically confers individual membership of medical students at that particular school. Each medical society elects two voting representatives to serve on the board of the CFMS.
MeetingsThe CFMS holds two meetings each year. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is held in September or October, and the Biannual General Meeting is held in April, co-locating with the annual meeting of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC).
PowersThe representatives elect a thirteen member Executive to carry out the operations of the Federation between the two major meetings. All powers of the Federation are granted to the Executive during this time. The leadership of the CFMS is assumed by its President who acts as CEO, chairperson, and spokesperson. The core executive consists of five vice-presidents as follows: Education, Finance (serving as Treasurer), Communications, Services (serving as Secretary), and International Programs and Partnerships. Regional representatives are central to the functioning of the Executive and are elected from the western (2), Ontario (2), Québec (1), and Atlantic (1) regions. The past-president sits at both the Executive Board and at the AGM/BAGM as an ex-officio member and also serves as returning officer for elections.
StaffThe CFMS employs a part-time General Manager who carries out day-to-day administrative and management functions from the CFMS head office in Ottawa.
Representation, Communication, and Services:The Work of the CFMS
The “three pillars” outline the breadth of the Federation’s work on behalf of member medical societies and individual medical students. Although having three pillars suggests them to be of equal priority, in reality representation supersedes communication and services in all practical aspects of the Federation’s work.
RepresentationThe mandate to represent medical societies and students at the tables of national medical is tremendous. The CFMS relates with more than 25 national and international medical boards representing a variety of organizations. Much of the liaison work is undertaken by the Executive, especially its President and Vice President Education. The President has broad responsibilities as the student representative to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Medical Association. He or she also has a seat on the Board of Directors for Canadian Residency Matching Services (Carms). Several liaison roles are filled by students-at-large appointed by the CFMS.
The function of representation is to ensure student voices are heard among organizations that direct medical education policy and affect health human resources planning in Canada. Medical education issues are the primary focus of the work of the CFMS. The substance of most CFMS meetings is to develop policy in order to guide representation and advocacy efforts.
The CFMS is widely respected as the voice of Canadian medical students. It is no small task to define and agree upon policy perspectives. During the previous years, the CFMS has spent an exorbitant amount of time and resources on undertaking advocacy on the following issues:
1. Accessibility to medical education (tuition, loans, etc)2. Post-graduate training reform3. Residency matching policy4. Medical student wellness5. International Medical Graduates6. Romanow Report7. Family Medicine8. A Charter for Medical Students9. Guidelines for Professionalism
Officials of the CFMS are routinely sought out by the media. The previous Presidents have been quoted extensively on the front pages of Canada’s national newspapers and are seen as an authority on the perspective of medical students. The CFMS has credibility in representing medical students among government, medical, and non-medical organizations.
Because of its unique position of representation the CFMS is continually being asked for commentary on a host of issues by a miscellany of stakeholders. The President receives nearly all of these inquiries which define a large level-of-effort on his or her behalf (irrespective of the relevance on inquiries).
ServicesAs the national body representing most of Canada’s medical students the CFMS is in a position to provide unique services to members. Medical students have special needs and the CFMS works on their behalf to arrange deals and services that cater to these needs. Medical students are a highly desirable market for many businesses.
Service acquisition and provision is a labour-intensive process but is arguably the most effective way of reaching out to individual member students. Unless involved in medical student politics, many medical students remain apathetic to the representative work of the CFMS unless issues become urgent and immediate to medical students.
CommunicationThe overarching function of the CFMS is to facilitate the communication of issues of importance to medical societies and member medical students. In turn, the CFMS seeks to provide fora for communication among member medical societies and students-at-large. This communication function takes place most immediately at the AGM and BAGM. This is complemented by electronic listservs which are a means for day-to-day information dissemination and discussion.
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