Volunteerism: 3 reasons to join the Obesity Canada Students and New Professionals

Today’s post comes from Nadia Browne. Nadia is a Registered Dietitian and a PhD candidate in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. She is also the Outgoing Vice-Chair of the OC-SNP National Executive.

Since becoming a member of Obesity Canada, I’ve been privileged to hold positions at various levels within this unique non-governmental organization (NGO). Throughout my years on the Obesity Canada Students and New Professionals (OC-SNP) National Executive, I have grown immensely in my roles as Outgoing Vice-Chair (2019-20), Vice-Chair (2018-19) and Chapter Representative (2017-18). Overall, my involvement with the OC-SNP National Executive has afforded me excellent avenues for networking and professional development. Besides, there is also the added scholastic value for me as a trainee pursuing a career in an obesity-related field.

Volunteerism is the backbone of the OC-SNP National Executive. According to the United Nations, volunteering is effective for community engagement and can, therefore, result in improved health benefits such as decreased health disparities1. Research has also suggested that volunteering for a few hours per month may be beneficial for our mental health2,3. As Students and New Professionals (SNPs), finding time to volunteer with charitable organizations like Obesity Canada can be somewhat difficult given our hectic schedules. Despite our limited availability, it is important to understand that balance is key and volunteering can provide us with opportunities to build on new and/or existing skills while we simultaneously make connections for professional development.

At Obesity Canada, we often look for new volunteers to join the SNP National Executive. If you are looking to enhance your personal (e.g., self-confidence, communication) and professional (e.g., problem-solving, time management) skills, consider these 3 reasons to volunteer with us.

  1. Latest obesity-related research. Persons living with obesity encounter weight bias, stigma and discrimination from various individuals including their families and friends4,5. Volunteering with the SNPs will improve your knowledge of obesity as a chronic disease through Obesity Canada’s many resources such as the Report Card on Access to Obesity Treatments for Adults in Canada 2019. Furthermore, you will have early access to the latest evidence in obesity research in Canada (g., Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines; full publication coming soon).
  2. Networking and professional development opportunities. Obesity Canada’s established network of members provides opportunities to connect with healthcare professionals, researchers and fellow students in the field plus the public engagement committee (provides patient perspectives); all of whom can help you to flourish as a SNP. Remember, cultivating great relationships is vital. As a trainee, academic collaborations and relationships are pertinent for research advancement, career development and personal growth. Through Obesity Canada’s events (g., Student Meeting, Obesity Summit, Learning Retreat) and Mentorship programme, you will be provided with numerous speaking experiences as well as learning and networking opportunities.
  3. Develop transferrable skills and leadership abilities. Volunteering with the OC-SNP offers you opportunities to transfer skills (e.g., knowledge translation, grant writing, time management, event planning and active listening) that you learnt while on the OC-SNP National Executive to various roles within academia or industry. It is important to note that the OC-SNP is heavily based on team-oriented leadership. This type of leadership encourages you to become a team player, develop your leadership potential and learn conflict resolution skills.

If you were in doubt about joining the OC-SNP National Executive, hopefully, you are more knowledgeable now and can make an informed decision. Once your intentions are good, you will quickly realize that volunteering with the OC-SNP National Executive brings with it a deep sense of gratification.

Want to get involved? We are currently recruiting persons to join the OC-SNP National Executive 2020-21. If you’re interested, please send us a letter of intent (~250 words) and your curriculum vitae to oc-snp@obesitynetwork.ca by July 24, 2020.

References

  1. Assembly, G. (200). United Nations Volunteers Programme: Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly on the implementation of the outcome of the world summit for social development and further initiatives. Volunteering and social development. A/AC.253/16/Add.7.
  2. Jenkinson, C. E., Dickens, A. P., Jones, K., Thompson-Coon, J., Taylor, R. S., Rogers, M., … & Richards, S. H. (2013). Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. BMC public health13(1), 773.
  3. Choi, N. G., & Kim, J. (2011). The effect of time volunteering and charitable donations in later life on psychological wellbeing. Ageing and society31(4), 590.
  4. Ramos Salas, X., Forhan, M., Caulfeild, T., Sharm, A. M., & Raine, K. (2019). Addressing internalized weight bias and changing damaged identifies for people living with obesity.Frontiers in psychology10, 1409.
  5. Pont, S. J., Puhl, R., Cook, S. R., & Slusser, W. (2017). Stigma experienced by children and adolescents with obesity.Pediatrics140(6).
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