Prizes comprise an important section of your CV and will give you points on your application as you progress through surgical training. These are areas that you have excelled in and show a higher level of commitment and understanding.

You can start accumulating prizes from a very early stage in your medical education. Students performing well in end of year exams are acknowledged by being awarded honours. These honours can also be achieved for individual pieces of work such as projects and special study modules.

An enthusiastic and supportive supervisor is the best starting point in order for you to achieve a high quality piece of work worthy of an honours award or submission for consideration of a prize.

Most surgical organisations will have a section for medical students to exhibit their work. Below are only a few examples of the more popular prizes available to the medical student.

  • The Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) has a ‘medical student prize session’. This is an opportunity for the six best pieces of work to be presented orally. ASiT also offer two prizes for those undertaking clinical or academic surgical electives.
  • The Royal College of Surgeons of England organizes the Professor Harold Ellis medical student prize for the best abstract submitted. This comes with a £500 incentive and heaps of prestige.
  • The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh holds a nationwide competition for 4th or 5th year students to compete in a range of surgical challenges, from suturing and knot-tying to undertaking key-hole skills tests. The winner of the competition wins a trip to the Johnson and Johnson Medical Companies’ European Surgical Training Institute in Hamburg.
  • The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) has medical student prizes in a plethora of specialties and topics. Depending on the topic the format varies. Prizes are awarded for essays, posters and presentations. There are bursaries and travelling fellowships in open competition for the keen student to capitalise on. Due to the large number disciplines represented there are a large number of prizes available.

Locally held meetings are another option for presentations and prizes. As these tend to be smaller than the larger national events, they attract less competition and hence there is a better chance of being successful. Your supervisor should be able to advise you on which meetings are suitable for the piece of work you are submitting.

Keeping up to date with local and national events through your medical school, student societies and specialty organisations are only a few of the ways to ensure you are aware of what opportunities are available. There are many other prizes available; this is not meant to be an exhaustive list but simply guidance of what is out there and how to look for it.