The Student Voice 2018

Will you #DareToThinkRare in our annual student essay competition?


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 essay competition highlights the importance of rare diseases and patient engagement to the doctors and researchers of the future. This year we are once again working with Medics4RareDiseases and the 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 a publication in a respected journal.

With thanks to our partner:

With thanks to our headline sponsor:


With thanks to our headline sponsor:


With thanks to our sponsor:

With thanks to our sponsor:

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The prizes

The overall winner of the competition will have their essay published in Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases to mark Rare Disease Day 2019.

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

The authors of the winning essay in each category will receive a free ticket to BM Manifesto’s Drug Repurposing for Rare Diseases Conference in February 2019, where they will receive their certificate. Travel expenses will also be covered.
The overall winner will also be invited to speak about their essay at the Medics4RareDiseases conference in 2019.
As if that wasn’t enough, the overall winner will recieve a £200 cash prize, with £100 going to the two runners up.

How do I enter?

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

Q1. Patients are the most important group of people involved in a clinical trial, but many do not feel respected or listened to. With reference to rare disease examples, evaluate existing approaches to patient engagement in clinical research and suggest ideas for the future.

Q2. Living with a rare disease is a life-long learning experience in which patients become experts in their own disease. Use a case study to demonstrate what future doctors can learn from patients with rare diseases.

Q3. The diagnosis and delivery of treatment for rare diseases can vary greatly from country to country. Compare and contrast rare disease healthcare provision of two countries of your choice. You may want to focus on a specific disease or stage in the patient journey e.g. newborn screening, diagnosis, access to treatment or access to clinical trials.

Entries must accompanied by an entry form, and submitted by email to by 9:00am on Monday 12th November.

Please review our rules and regulations before starting your essay.

Pair up with a patient group

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

For the first time this year, we are giving you the opportunity to talk directly to a patient group representative in preparation for your essay.

If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity please complete our patient pairing form and return it to no later than Monday 29th October.


Our Partners


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.

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