2021/22 Fellowship election: making small changes for a big difference

As I pick up the reins from the wonderful contribution Philippa Saunders made during her tenure as Registrar, I am pleased to announce the commencement of the 2021/22 Fellowship election cycle with some changes, while calling for your help to increase our diversity.

Why change?

Our diversity reports and Fellowship specialism areas have indicated for some years that we must adapt the election process to recognise the full breadth of excellence.

The Academy is doing well in some areas. We’re successfully balancing Fellows who care for patients with those working in the wider medical science ecosystem – almost exactly half our Fellows are clinically trained.

However we underrepresent key disciplines, sectors, experiences and contributions: for example, I am one of only six nurses in the Fellowship. The Fellowship remains only 20% female. Across our whole Fellowship, both in the UK and overseas, there are only 88 people from ethnic minority backgrounds and 65% of our Fellows are based in the South East of England.

On top of this, many of our core 350 Founder Fellows from 1998, who currently comprise 25% of the Fellowship, are starting to step back from day-to-day involvement in our work.

We need to adapt to these pressures. The Fellowship is the pipeline and knowledge base for all the Academy’s work. Getting this right – with your support – will secure our future.  

What is changing?

In my first Fellowship election cycle as Registrar, I am pleased to announce some subtle changes to the election cycle. These are:

  • Increasing the number of Fellows elected each year from 50 to 60.
  • Ensuring no more than two of the four candidates Fellows can nominate each year come from a Fellow’s own institution.
  • Ensuring no single Fellow can have more than five candidates in the pool at once.

We are writing to all Fellows and our Regional Champions with more details of these changes, which can also be found in our updated election regulations.

Why we need you.

Strong engagement across the Fellowship is crucial for successful change.

As Registar I aim to build a better environment for more diverse Fellowship nominations. But this system is nothing without you: the people who use, champion, and challenge it.

This is where I look to you, our Fellows, and encourage you to nominate exceptional individuals who represent the widest possible diversity and especially among those who are currently underrepresented or who bring different skills, backgrounds and knowledge.

Think about excellence in all its forms. We have previously elected fellows for their outstanding contributions to medical ethics, medical law, public engagement, veterinary science, biotech, leadership, government, surgery, drug development, parasite biology, general practice, diet, nursing and allied health, medical engineering, open data sharing, statistics, and many more.

But we need your help to recognise this. Outstanding contributions in each of these fields can look very different to the classic landmark paper, and very different from each other.

Anywhere you see people driving forward medical science for the benefit of society, we would like to know. Don’t just think about candidates who are like those who have come before: help us identify people who are changing the system.  

How we can help.

I am on hand to talk any Fellows through these changes and listen to your thoughts or concerns.

I appreciate every single candidate nomination: I know this can be a time-consuming process.

I realise election to the Academy’s Fellowship is not straightforward: the majority of candidates are not successful the first year of nomination. However we keep candidates active for five years and review them carefully each year. Please do ensure you keep nominations up to date every year to give your candidates the best chance: if you have candidates in the pool, please log on to our eLect system and do this now.

If you need technical support, please contact our expert Fellowship Manager Russell Crandon.

If you would like to talk with me in more detail about the future of the Fellowship, please do contact me at jessica.corner@nottingham.ac.uk

I am very grateful to the previous Registrar Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci and the Fellowship election committee whose constructive challenge and support have brought us to this point.

I will be Registar for the next four years. I hope to leave this Fellowship, and so this Academy, stronger than ever and look forward to working with you.

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