Nearly 400 medical and nursing students gathered at Yarnfield Park in Staffordshire in early February to 'work, rest and pray' together for a weekend. The fun began even before the students arrived as some of them participated in carpool karaoke - a conference tradition that is growing in popularity.
This year, medical students from all over the UK were joined by 16 Sydenham Conference delegates coming from countries as far afield as Botswana and Brazil, Kyrgyzstan and Kenya.
Inspiring comments like the following from one of the Sydenham delegates should prompt us to support this very worthwhile opportunity to prepare student leaders from abroad for their roles at medical schools in their own countries:
'It was like a dream coming true for me! I learned a lot from all the Bible studies and lectures and especially from your example of Christian living! I hope to always remember every detail and to apply all the learning here in Brazil... You were instruments of God in my life!'
Many of the students studying at UK medical schools also come from other countries where they may not receive the depth of relevant Bible teaching that is offered at the conference.
John Wyatt was the main speaker with a series of talks around the theme of finding our place in God's narrative.
Every year, delegates can choose to attend four seminars out of a possible 19 with topics ranging from beginning of life ethics to more theological issues like 'answering difficult questions' (this year presented by former CEO Peter Saunders) and personal topics like 'facing failure' (presented by Head of Student Ministries, Rachel Owusu-Ankomah). All the speakers are experts in their fields who give their time freely, and are blessed by their participation. One of them wrote, 'Had an amazing time at conference. What a joy!'
But the conference is not just about learning and spiritual growth. There are opportunities for students from the various regions to meet and greet each other and make lasting connections for mutual support and encouragement. Time is set aside for activities that are just plain fun - the techno-ceilidh on Saturday night is always very popular and this year the large room in which it was held was packed to capacity. Delegates can get in touch with their inner child at the sweet table; and get rid of excess energy (do medical students have any?) by participating in organised runs or keep-fit sessions.
And let's not forget about the food! Mealtimes are eagerly anticipated as the venue provides a wonderful range of nutritious and tasty meals that make the inevitable queuing worthwhile.
The Student Conference is heavily subsidised by CMF; we are so thankful to all our graduate members. A special thanks to those who go above and beyond to help with transport costs and to subsidise first-timers.
This event is so important in the lives of Christian medical students. The impact it has is encapsulated by the following feedback:
'The discussions were so interesting and have changed the way I think about many topics surrounding Christian ethics and my faith.'
'The chance to get to know other Christian medics was incredibly encouraging!'
'After feeling disconnected with God for a while it was nice to be reminded so beautifully of the truths that we believe.'
'Amazing! This was my first year attending and I can say that this was a life changing event! I loved the sessions and how it addressed many issues/challenges that medical students face and how we can solve these using a biblical and a godly approach.'
National Student Council
The National Student Council (NSC) is a representative body of medical and nursing students (two per region) who act as a consultative forum for the Student Ministries Team, assisting in vision setting and forward planning. They also play a big role in choosing a theme and relevant seminar topics for the annual Student Conference. Many members also get involved in running events there, for example, the popular pub quiz and techno-ceilidh.
Last year, Becky Horton chaired the NSC with support from Vice Chair Jeremy Foster. As Becky graduates this year, Jeremy now steps into the role of Chair and will be supported by a new Vice Chair from Bristol medical school, Silas Anderson.
We are grateful to Becky for her able leadership, and to Jeremy and Silas for being willing to serve their fellow students.
The NSC meets twice a year and the energy and enthusiasm that members bring to the meeting is always a great encouragement to the Student Ministries Team. NSC members give of their time, but also gain valuable experience in leadership and organisation.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Medicine, Mission and Me retreat in May and the Developing Health Course in July have both been postponed to 2020.
If you would like further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
CMF produces a prayer diary three times a year. If you would like to receive this, share prayer requests or share answered prayers, please email email@example.com. The prayer diary is also available via the PrayerMate app for iPhone and Android: praynow4.org/christianmedicalfellowship for more details.