The one to watch

An inspirational blog from the memcom 19 membership excellence awards, and rising star Chris Bull, Membership Communities Manager at the Royal College of General Practitioners

28 Nov 2019

By Anna Rivers, Marketing Manager, memcom


The annual memcom membership excellence awards shine a light on the creativity, innovation, and impact coming out of the membership sector. Our 2019 awards took place in June and were the biggest to date, with a 70% increase in award entries and a sell-out awards event. Our panel of independent judges reported that entries were a true reflection of the outstanding work to come out of the sector. In the spirit of sharing and collaboration, we’ve been in touch with all our winning entrants since the last awards and have been sharing as many insights and successes as possible.

Chris Bull, Membership Communities Manager at the Royal College of General Practitioners, took home the trophy for Future Leader – the one to watch back in June and we’re delighted to be able to share the background behind this big win. If you’re inspired, why not enter a 2020 memcom membership excellence award – entry across the five categories is open now.

memcom judges’ comments…

“Chris has taken a member-centred approach in all his work. Following the 2016 publication by Health Education England of ‘By choice, not by chance’, encouraging medical students to proactively pursue a career in general practice, he developed a suite of activity to encourage foundation doctors and medical students to join the RCGP, leading to a 500% increase in these young professionals joining the College. He worked tirelessly to develop a new work experience programme with participants from 12 universities. He went further with his ambitions in developing the RCGP virtual reality experience  and the judges were impressed by both the range of his work, his support for staff and the evidence of impact provided.”

Chris has been instrumental in leading, developing and implementing several key, and hugely successful, initiatives across the RCGP…

Running a successful conference and awards

In 2018 Chris organised a Discover GP Conference, run as a stream of the RCGP Annual Conference. This was a really successful engagement initiative. 26% of delegates attending the Annual Conference were students and foundation doctors and 29 took part in the volunteering scheme to support the running of the conference. 43 student and foundation doctor travel bursaries were distributed and 33 students representing 29 GP Societies attended though the RCGP Society Partnership Scheme.

He also introduced the ‘Inspiring the Future’ awards including categories such as ‘GP Society of the Year’, ‘Student of the Year’, ‘Outstanding Teaching in General Practice’ and ‘Discover GP Champion’ – all aimed at raising the profile and interest in a career in General Practice. 63 nominations were received and the celebration event was attended by 160. Chris is now working on formalising the ‘GP Champions’ scheme – an initiative aimed at encouraging experienced members to speak at school events, attend careers fairs and inspire the next generation of GPs.

Increasing relevance within the younger generation

The creation of the first RCGP Medical Student and Foundation Committee in 2018 was in many ways the culmination of Chris’s hard work. Over 80 applications were received for just 12 places – all expressing a desire to get involved with the College in shaping the future. At a time when many professional bodies are struggling to show their relevance to the younger generation, to have this much interest from this community in getting involved was astonishing. The creation of the GP Society scheme goes some way to explaining this positive engagement. Of the 33 medical schools in the UK, 30 GP Societies applied to be partners with RCGP in 2018. Chris led the development of this affiliation programme to provide means tested support and guidance to student led GP societies around the UK. The societies compete to run Discover GP conferences – with seven one-day conferences taking place around the UK in 2019 engaging with nearly 1,000 future GPs.

Securing funds for a work experience programme

Work experience is key to showcasing the potential of a career as a GP and Chris worked in partnership with Health Education England to secure funds for a work experience programme. In 2018, 223 funded work experience places were offered to students from 12 universities. Widening participation is key to the success of the programme and with this in mind, Chris is leading the development of a structured virtual work experience platform to provide even more students with the opportunity to learn about a career in general practice. In support of this he oversaw the launch of the Discover GP virtual reality experience – offering 5 real-life case studies for viewers to put themselves in the GP hot seat. Chris showed leadership in his encouragement and support for one of his team to develop this project – with resounding success.


Providing a clear career route for members

In 2016, Health Education England published ‘By choice, not by chance’ – a report outlining proposals to encourage medical students to pursue a career in General Practice. In response, Chris was instrumental in leading, developing and implementing the RCGP’s ‘Discover GP’ strategy aimed at providing a clear route into a career as a GP. He led a team of two to create a programme of opportunities for engagement with future GPs – in schools, in Universities with medical students and with foundation doctors. His work resulted in a 500% increase in the number of Medical students and Foundation Doctors joining the RCGP over a three-year period – all future GPs and members of the College.


‘I am humbled to win this award. I feel incredibly fortunate to love what I do and I cannot thank all those who continue to support me enough. Our achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless efforts of the College’s Membership Communities team, which I feel both proud and privileged to lead.’, Chris Bull.