The Student Voice Prize 2019

Will you #DareToThinkRare in our annual student essay competition?

The Student Voice Prize 2019 is now closed and the winners have been selected. You can find out a little more about the winning entries here, or read them in full by following the links below. All runners up were published as short blogs on the BMC On Medicine blog, with full versions available here.

Overall Winner –
Anna-Lucia Koerling

No Friends 1 – Read in OJRD

Runner-up – Sandy Ayoub 

Dual Deprivation for Rare Disease – Blog / Essay

Runner-up –
Muhammad Shaikh 

Improving Rare Disease Recognition Via Medical Education – Blog / Essay

Runner-up – Anneliese Ng 

No Country for Healthcare Equity – Blog / Essay

Rare diseases affect approximately 350 million people worldwide, yet they are some of the most difficult conditions to diagnose. Despite the number of people affected and the challenge they pose for clinicians, the rarity of each individual condition means that little time is dedicated to them during medical school.

The Student Voice Prize asks medical students to “think rare” and consider the role that clinicians have in the patient experience. It highlights the importance of rare diseases and patient engagement to the doctors and researchers of the future. Now in its sixth year, Findacure and Medics4RareDiseases are proud to be continuing our collaboration with Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases to capture the student voice.

The competition is open to undergraduate and masters students around the world in all subjects, though it is most applicable to medical and biosciences students. It poses three questions that encourage you to think about the patient experience of rare diseases, and the ways that doctors and researchers can improve it. A winning essay will be selected for each question, with one essay chosen as the overall winner and securing open access publication in Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases.

The Prizes

The authors of the winning essay in each category will receive a free ticket to Findacure’s Drug Repurposing for Rare Diseases Conference in February 2020, with the chance to address the delegates.

The overall winner will have their essay published in Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases – a great way to boost your CV and FPAS score!

The overall winner will also be invited to speak about their essay at the M4RD annual symposium at the Royal Society of Medicine in 2020.

Runners up all have the opportunity to feature in BMC’s On Medicine blog.


As if that wasn’t enough, the overall winner will receive a £200 cash prize, with £100 going to the two runners up.

The Essay

To enter this year’s Student Voice Prize, you need to answer one of the following questions in no more than 1,500 words:

  1. Many people living with a rare disease experience a long and arduous journey to diagnosis known as ‘The Diagnostic Odyssey’. It involves seeing many different doctors and receiving misdiagnoses. Explore how current methods of medical education may contribute to this and what changes could be made to improve the experience of those living with a rare disease.
  1. Living with a rare disease is a life-long learning experience which invariably leads to challenges with mental health alongside physical symptoms. Use a case study to demonstrate how future doctors can learn from patients to improve the management of these complex conditions.
  1. The diagnosis and delivery of treatment for rare diseases can vary greatly between different populations or groups within the same country. Compare and contrast the experiences of two different groups within a country of your choice, and explore the reasons underlying the inequities of healthcare provision. You may want to focus on a specific disease or stage in the patient journey e.g. newborn screening, diagnosis, or access to treatment.

Entries to The Student Voice Prize are now closed. Thank you to all of those who took part. You can find out about the winning entries here, and read their final published pieces in the lead up to Rare Disease Day 2020.

Listening to the patient perspective is crucial to understand rare conditions.

 To help those students yet to encounter a rare condition in practice, we give you the opportunity to talk directly to a patient group representative in preparation for your essay.

 Patient group pairing has now closed, but will return in 2020. If you represent a patient group and would like to get involved next year please complete our patient group participation form and send it to [email protected]


You can find all of the resource you might need for the Student Voice Prize here:


Rules and Regulations

Entry form

Patient Pairing Form

Patient Group Participation Form

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If you would like to learn more about past competitions you can visit Findacure’s Student Voice page.

Medics4RareDiseases is a not for profit organisation that is driving an attitude change towards rare diseases amongst medical students and doctors-in-training to improve the patient journey.

Findacure is a UK based charity that is bring the rare disease community together and empowering rare disease patients.

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that encompasses all aspects of rare diseases and orphan drugs.

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