Read the latest HealthWatch newsletter:  Newsletter 116, Summer 2021

The pandemic challenged students in many ways in the last 12 months, but it didn’t stop them sending some absolutely stunning entries to our annual HealthWatch Student Prize competition for the critical appraisal of clinical trial protocols.

We were hugely impressed this year by a mature student who found the time to research and write a superb first prize-winning entry alongside full-time studies, helping on a farm, parenting three children, and competing in eventing. Jenny Jones, now beginning her third year studying Midwifery at Bangor University, said: “The different proposals were interesting to read, and I learned a lot about how a research proposal should be formed.” Inspired to midwifery by the excellent care she had received herself, she says: “I hope to make a positive impact on the lives of other women going through pregnancy and childbirth; both through direct clinical practice, and later on in research. I would one day like to conduct research on how the environment and mental state affects perception of pain during childbirth.” Jenny, who is originally from Halifax in Yorkshire but now lives in Aberavon in North Wales, receives a cheque for £500 as first prize in the Nursing, Midwifery and Professions Allied to Medicine category. She is full of praise for her supportive Year 2 lecturer, Judith Fields, who introduced her to the competition, and we hope that other academic tutors will take her lead and give their students the opportunity to take part.

In the Medical and Dental category the £500 first-prize cheque goes to Will Duggleby, who has just graduated from the University of Cambridge clinical medicine course. Will, of Stroud in Gloucestershire, came across our competition online. He says: “I think that Doctors should be capable scientists as well as clinicians and the competition seemed to be something which would put my own abilities to the test!” He hopes to join the IMT (Internal Medicine Training) programme after Foundation, before deciding where to specialise. We wish him well.

Runners up

For Matthew Kingham, this was the second time he'd entered the competition. He achieved a Highly Commended certificate last year, but this time he collected a runners-up cheque for £100. Now in his third year of Medicine at King’s College London, he said, ‘It has been a strange academic year with all the challenges of the pandemic, however re-applying for this competition was an enjoyable and educational experience. I am still very keen on pursuing a career in surgery, however, I am also considering ENT as another option aside from neurosurgery. My interest in the clinical neurosciences has not wavered, however!’

Another Londoner in his third year at Kings is medical student Jack Coumbe. Jack is interested in a career in academic medicine so he valued the opportunity to focus on evidence-based medicine for his prize. He looks forward to applying for academic foundation programmes when he graduates, “the experience given by this competition has motivated me to continue my interest in clinical trials and academia.”

From further afield comes runner-up Shun Qi Yong, originally from Selangor, Malaysia, and now a fourth year medic at Glasgow University. Shun Qi says she found the process of writing more challenging than initially expected but the effort gave her an appreciation for the many considerations in devising a good protocol. She stays grounded by “reading about the world outside of medicine during my spare time!”

A further runner-up cheque is on its way to Catrin Sohrabi, Queen Mary University of London, for her excellent entry in the Nursing, Midwifery and PAM category. Highly Commended certificates have been awarded to medics Conor Hennessy, Oxford University, and Hanna Spielmann, Medical School Hannover.

Testing skills

The HealthWatch Student Prize competition aims to test students’ research skills by inviting them to evaluate four hypothetical research protocols and rank them in order of quality. It opens every year in the Autumn term, with deadline end of April. Entries are invited from two categories: medical and dental students; and students of nursing, midwifery and professions allied to medicine.

In each group there is a first prize of £500 and up to five runner-up prizes of £100. A full list of past winners can be found on our Student Prize page.

Prize winners will be invited to receive their awards in person again this year at the HealthWatch Annual General Meeting in London in October.

We are extremely grateful to the Royal College of Surgeons of England for their generous sponsorship of this year's competition.

All full-time and recently-qualified students in these categories, whether entering the competition or not, can apply for free Student Membership of HealthWatch.

This story has been amended to correct an error in original version. Matthew Kingham was not, as originally written, last year's first prize winner, that was Matthew Choy! Our apologies to both Matthews.


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