The College congratulates Becky Howitt who has been awarded the George Pickering Prize for the highest marks in Medicine Finals. We asked Becky about this achievement and to reflect on her time at Queen’s.

Following your fantastic results in Finals, you have been awarded the George Pickering Prize for Best Overall Performance in the 2nd BM (Bachelor of Medicine).  Congratulations! Please can you tell us how it feels to have this achievement and what has led you to this moment?

This prize is such an honour – becoming a doctor has been a lifelong dream and to receive this award was the icing on the cake! I spent a lot of time preparing for these exams with my fellow medical students at Queen’s. So to Elfie, Immy, Yedidiah, and Zuza – thank you for all your help; I’ve learnt so much from each of you and you’re all going to be amazing doctors! And to all the members of the MCR – thank you for your patience when we took over the sofas to practise examinations and history taking!

What have you enjoyed most about your studies this past year? And what aspect of medicine interests you the most?

Following Finals, we had the opportunity to choose blocks of placement in areas of medicine that we are particularly interested in. I hope to become a paediatrician and so chose to do a three-week placement on paediatric intensive care at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. I learnt so much from the incredible team there, and even got to go out on the specialist retrieval ambulance to transfer children from small local hospitals to ICU.

You have been at Queen’s for six years – what makes the College special for you?

For me, the chapel and the Queen’s choir are the most special thing about college. The chapel is such a beautiful space and singing with QCCC for the first three years of my degree brought me so much joy and lifelong friendships. Just before Christmas I performed a recital of songs themed around sickness and health in the chapel, which felt like a really fitting way to say goodbye to a place that has been so central to my college life.

How do you unwind and switch off from your work?

Singing is definitely the main way I unwind, but spending time in nature is also really important to me. Whether it’s going on walks, doing Parkrun at Uni Parks, or growing vegetables on my allotment, I find an unrivalled sense of calm and headspace from being outdoors.

What’s next for you?

After graduation, my first junior doctor job will be in Birmingham. I have been very fortunate to get a place on the academic specialised foundation programme scheme which means as part of my training I have a four-month period dedicated to research. I also have a rotation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital doing paediatrics, which I am really looking forward to.

Can you recommend a book?

I would highly recommend Dear Life by Rachel Clarke – a palliative care doctor who works in Oxford. My college daughter (the amazing Bethan Storey) lent this to me a few years ago and it is such a poignant read, which I would recommend to medics and non-medics alike.

Talking about death and our wishes for the end of life is often perceived as taboo, but it is so important to ensure that our families/healthcare professionals are able to advocate for us. This book is such an eye-opener into the incredible work that palliative care teams do, although I should add a warning not to read it on public transport (I made the mistake of reading it on a crowded train from Birmingham to Oxford and cried my eyes out!).