Passion for Inspiration: National Leadership Development Seminar (NLDS) 2019

What makes a good leader? What makes someone effective in leading people toward success? How can we inspire action?

NLDS is an annual conference held in Canberra, gathering medical students across Australia and New Zealand for a 5 day experience in leadership upskilling, plenaries and breakouts. Uniquely, this conference consists of a delegation determined by application and by virtue of hosting only 100 medical students each year, university delegation sizes are small which fosters an environment perfect for breaking out of your usual social circle and meeting new people!

This year’s conference was heralded by a fantastic team spanning 9 universities across Australia and included our very own, Sam Giang, our awesome logistics officer. Days began with breakfast, followed by plenaries, skill sessions, breakouts and project discussions (with regular food breaks, of course!). And what conference is complete without social nights? We kicked off the social schedule with a cocktail night, followed by evenings at various locations in Canberra, and celebrated our last night at the iconic Mooseheads.

 “Leadership is about adaptability.” – Dr Yumiko Kadota

Dr Yumiko Kadota was the first speaker of NLDS, known widely in the medical community for her experiences as a plastic surgery registrar in “The Ugly Side of Becoming a Surgeon”. While working primarily behind the scenes as an advocate for young doctors these days, she found the time to discuss her experiences of leadership with us, speaking of the most effective leaders being those who could modify their leadership style according to the needs of their team and the individual situation.

Over the 5 days, we heard from a total of 22 inspiring speakers, ranging from ex AMSA presidents to the current AMA president (Dr Tony Bartone), to leaders in medical research and to young entrepreneurs. Some of these speakers included Dr Vijay Roach (current RANZCOG president), Dr Fiona Lander, Prof Peter Doherty, Dr Renee Lim, Hannah Wandel, and across them, covered themes of finding your passion, different styles of leadership, individual cost, succession planning, age as a barrier, and the importance of mentorship.

One of the most rewarding experiences of the conference was working with other delegates on a project we were passionate about, and then presenting a ‘pitch’ to all delegates at Old Parliament House. It was exciting to see our daily project discussions come to life in a pitch that we could feasibly take further past NLDS.

If I had to recommend going to one conference in your medical degree, this would be the one! I have walked away feeling so inspired and am confident that this conference has equipped me with skills that will continue to direct my leadership journey into the future. Leadership is such an important skill that needs to be fostered more in future medical professionals and I would highly encourage everyone to apply in the coming years!

UoN’s 2019 NLDS Delegates: Wrivu Martin, Peter Lin, Alysha Bagster, Melina Sim

What can you do?

  • Attend NLDS during your degree
  • Speak to past delegates
  • Speak to your AMSA rep (Fiona) about getting involved
  • Identify your passions and join interest groups


  • 5 day leadership conference in Canberra
  • 4 social nights, including a cocktail evening
  • Held in May each year
  • 100 med students, decided by application
  • Once in a degree opportunity
  • Contact myself or any of the delegates if you’d like to chat more!