Interview with Guts UK/Dr Falk 2019 Award Winner

8th July 2019

For the past 13 years, Guts UK & Dr Falk have joined forces to invest into future researchers and recognise those who bring new insight into the field of gastroenterology, herpetology and pancreatology, maintaining the supply of bright, inquiring minds.

Many of today’s leaders in the field began this way, and we hope to continue supporting dietitians, nurses, trainees, junior doctors and students. This will help us work towards a world in which digestive disorders are better understood, better treated and everyone who lives with one gets the support they need.

Elinor Roderick
Guts UK/Dr Falk 2019 Award Winner

Meet Ms Elinor Roderick, the winner of one of the Medical Student Prizes for her work in auto-immune hepatitis.

She is currently completing an BSc in Clinical Sciences at UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation. She is returning to her fourth year of medical school at University College London in September 2019.

How did you feel when you discovered you’d won the Medical Student Prize?

Winning the Dr Falk Core Award Medical Student prize was a great honour and a terrific confidence booster at this early stage of my career. However, perhaps just as valuable was how much I learned from the actual process of entering the awards.

How did entering affect the way in which you carried out your research?

Knowing that I had entered meant that, almost right from the beginning of my project, I had to focus hard on the aims and methodology of my work, how I would report my results and to pick out the most important points of my research. This was something I found it particularly helpful as I was able to use these points as a backbone to build on as I moved through my project. Overall, the work involved in entering was not that onerous, I probably spent around two days drafting and then reworking the submission so that it told all the salient points within the required word count.

I know that good communication skills are vital if, as a researcher, you want your work to reach a wider audience. However, as a medical student, even when intercalating, you rarely get the chance to learn such skills. Perhaps one of the most important things I gained from the Dr Falk/Guts UK Awards process was the opportunity to practice, and hopefully improve, those skills.

Elinor (centre) with Dr Riadh Jazrawi of Dr Falk (left) and Professor Chris Hawkey, President of Guts UK (right)

How do you feel these awards supported you as a trainee?

Another great thing about these Awards is that they are given for shorter projects. This is unusual, as most prizes tend to be targeted at longer, PhD type projects which generally excludes medical students and SpRs (Specialist Registrar Trainees) who tend to be working within a clinical rather than pure research environment.

So, as a medical student, it was fantastic to have my work reviewed and approved by such eminent people and it definitely made me understand how I could incorporate research into my career. There is no doubt either, that being able to put the award on my CV will be really useful for my future career prospects.

The Dr Falk/Guts UK Award Winners of 2019 at the award dinner in Glasgow

Winning the Award also provided me with entry to the BSG meeting which was an incredibly valuable experience and one which has really ignited my enthusiasm for research. I learned so much about the huge variety of work being carried out in all areas of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and was able to network with people who I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to meet as a medical student.

How did you enjoy the Dr Falk/Guts UK award dinner?

I had a wonderful time at the awards dinner! I was able to talk to other medical students and doctors about the important and interesting research they are undertaking. Seeing doctors carrying out research alongside their clinical duties has really pushed me to strive for this in my own career. It was such a great opportunity to meet other health professionals, and to talk about exciting current research in the field of gastroenterology.

What would you say to others in your position who may be thinking of applying for the awards in 2020?

I would definitely encourage anyone who is researching in GI or Hepatology to enter the awards. You learn so much, you widen your skill set and of course it opens up so many opportunities for your career.

Click here to read more about Elinor's project

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