To say that medical students are ‘over achievers’ would often be an understatement. If we needed more evidence of our students’ creativity and initiative, UNSW Medicine’s COVID-19 essay competition certainly provided us with such.

The competition was the brainchild of the clinical academics at St Vincent’s hospital, but it became clear that medical students across all our clinical schools wanted the opportunity to express themselves in written form.

We received essays that ranged in content from a detailed exploration of the pathophysiologic features of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, to a reflection on the potential dystopian future of our society following this pandemic.

Each clinical site selected up to three essays as finalists. A diverse and inclusive central judging panel then awarded the major prizes, well mainly just glory, to the three top-rated essays overall. The high standard of all these essays and the broad range of focus and content made judging them very difficult. In our eyes, all contributors are winners.

Due to the high stakes involved, we went through a formal judging process and collation of secret ballots which resulted in three clear winners:

  1. How do you think medicine and the world will change after the pandemic of COVID-19 is over? By Eleanor Hall, Prince of Wales Clinical School
  2. Want to help? Focus on the next pandemic- it may be worse by Sylvain Meslin, St George Clinical School
  3. COVID-19: Learning Silver Linings by Gillian Ophel, Wagga Wagga Clinical School

Special mentions also go to Nathaniel Bradford and Jenny Yang for their high-quality scientific submissions about the clinicopathology of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Kudos to our other finalists:

  • Azriel Tan - Psychiatry
  • Bridget Marshall - Port Macquarie
  • Dharani Jayadeva - Liverpool
  • Erica Longhurst – Port Macquarie
  • Lin Yang – Port Macquarie
  • Naomi Clements – Wagga Wagga
  • Roshana Kanagaratnam – Liverpool
  • Samuel Tsang – St George
  • Sathia Sushil – St Vincent’s
  • Shaddy Hanna – Liverpool
  • Soloman Saleh – St George

A huge thank you to all students who participated in this event. The essays were a pleasure to read, and we are privileged that you chose to share with us how the last few months have affected you.

To finish with the words of one of our favourite medical doctor and authors, Khaled Hosseini, ‘what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.’