Northern Ireland Medical student

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Recognition for medical students' leadership skills

Medical student of the year 2017
John D Woods and Cathal O’Hagan

Two final year medical students from Queen’s University Belfast have been recognised by BMA Northern Ireland for demonstrating leadership qualities and having a positive effect on their fellow students at an awards ceremony in Northern Ireland this week.

Patrick Hickland and Cathal O’Hagan, both final year medical students at Queen’s University, Belfast, were named joint recipients of the Medical Student Leadership Award at the 18th annual Northern Ireland Healthcare Awards. The award, which was presented for the first time this year, was sponsored by BMA Northern Ireland.

Open to medical students in any year of study across the country, the accolade was presented to them by BMA Northern Ireland council chair John D Woods who also led the judging panel.

Patrick was shortlisted for ‘actively seeking out opportunities to experience more niche areas of obstetric practice’ to help better inform his choice of specialism path, and for encouraging his fellow students to challenge themselves while on surgical placement in a busy hospital.

As president of a medical charity society SWOT (Students Working Overseas Trust), which is run by fourth year medical students at Queen’s University, Belfast, O'Hagan was praised for ‘seizing the opportunity to continue developing the qualities which he deems integral to leadership – including team work, ethics, confidence, self-awareness, and courage’.

Both students, who received their awards the night before their fourth year final exams, said they were ‘delighted’ to have won.

'It was a real honour for me to receive this award as I feel leadership within the entire student body is important to recognise, and I see it in action every day with my fellow students of all levels,' said O'Hagan, who is interested in pursuing paediatrics as a specialty.


Stand-out work

Patrick, who would like to pursue a specialty in surgery and medical academia, said he was 'overwhelmed' to receive the award.

'It’s validation for the work that Cathal and I put it,' said Patrick.

'I hope it’s used as an example for the students coming up behind us of what they are capable of.'

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Dr Woods said O'Hagan and Hickland ‘stood out’ in a high-standard field of applicants.

'Patrick’s application demonstrated how using initiative, being interested and being willing to take a lead can inspire and motivate others,' said Dr Woods.

'He clearly outlined a number of times where he identified a problem and worked quickly to find a solution; key skills for a doctor. Cathal’s application illustrated that medical students can gain some of the skills necessary to be a successful leader through charitable work, and by having a bit of fun at the same time.'

National Director of BMA Northern Ireland Claire Armstrong said: 'With leadership being one of the key skills needed for a career in any branch of practice, BMA Northern Ireland was proud to sponsor the first ever leadership award for medical students studying here.

'We were amazed by the standard of applications from these students who have already achieved so much and all whilst studying for one of the most time-intensive undergraduate degrees. All the nominees should be proud for getting this far and I congratulate Patrick and Cathal for a well-deserved win.'

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