Future GP takes top medical award

1 December 2022

UCLan’s Holly Buck named Student Doctor of the Year

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) undergraduate has been named Student Doctor of the Year.

Holly Buck, a fourth year on the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme, claimed the top prize from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

The 23-year-old, who wants to become a GP when she qualifies, said: “I was really amazed and honoured to be even nominated for such an award, so to hear my name read out and to win it was so special, I was ecstatic and on top of the world!”

The former Runshaw College student has overcome more than most to get to this stage in her academic life. Aged 11, Holly was diagnosed with tonsillitis 12 times in a year and that led to her contracting glandular fever. Sadly, for the previously fit and sporty teenager, it left her with chronic fatigue syndrome, and she was admitted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverpool.

The knock-on effect of the illness on her schooling meant she only attended around 20% of her classes in Years 7 and 8 at Bishop Rawstorne Church of England Academy. Her mother had to take time off work to collect her school work and teach her at home.

Holly, from Southport, said: “I was so poorly and to go from competing in athletic competitions for my county to not being able to wash my own hair was really debilitating. I slowly built up my strength and managed to get A*s and As in my GCSEs.”

"To hear my name read out and to win it was so special, I was ecstatic and on top of the world"

Holly Buck, a fourth year MBBS student

While she was about to undertake her high school exams, her mum was diagnosed with double breast cancer.

“With being under Alder Hey’s care until I was 18 and going to support my mum with her breast cancer appointments, I spent a lot of time around medical professionals,” said Holly. “Seeing the work they did certainly inspired me to want to become a doctor.”

Holly, an aspiring GP, has an enormous passion for her future career as a doctor. She said: “Being able to provide care, support and empathy to patients is as a truly honouring and rewarding profession and I’m extremely grateful to be able to call it my career.”

As a former Alder Hey patient, Holly’s award serves a dual purpose - recognition that young people can overcome significant adversity and become compassionate and resilient doctors, but also provide an enormous inspirational example for others. To this day, the hospital refers patients to Holly and she is able to recount her story to them, providing them with hope and courage in taking forward their own aspirations of becoming a doctor.

Holly travelled to the RCGP Inspire Awards ceremony in London with her dad and brother as her mum was recuperating from surgery.

She added: “I was incredibly shocked to be nominated and then to meet the other outstanding students on the night and to be among such highly important figures in the medical world was very special.”