Medical student’s win essay competition on ME/CFS in Scotland

Essays on ME/CFS by medical students at universities in Edinburgh, Dundee and St Andrews have been selected as the winning entries in the 2024 Learn about ME essay competition in Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government.

Learn about ME partners Action for M.E., ME Action Scotland, ME Association and Dr Nina Muirhead are delighted to award the first prize of £250 to Bhanu Wahi-Singh, a fifth year medical student at The University of Edinburgh.

“We were looking for entries that offered real insight into what doctors should consider when supporting a patient who may have ME/CFS, with reference to its impact on their quality of life and level of functioning, and emerging biomedical evidence on post-viral illnesses. Thank you to all the students that entered and in doing so learnt more about how they can support people with ME/CFS as they progress in their medical career.”

Dr Nina Muirhead.

All entrants were required to access and complete Learna’s free CPD training module on ME/CFS, developed by Dr Muirhead, before submitting 500 words on the topic: What is your most important learning point about ME/CFS?

Bhanu’s essay will be published in Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in June, introduced by an editorial from Dr Muirhead highlighting the urgent need for early and accurate diagnosis, medication for symptom control, kindness, compassion and belief for people with ME/CFS.

Mairi Paterson at University of Dundee and Lucy Anderson, first year medical student at University of St Andrews took second and third place respectively.

Nearly 30 students entered this inaugural medical student essay competition, part of the Learn about ME project funded by the Scottish Government to inform professional practice.

First prize winner Bhanu is passionate about the interface between clinical work and research. Clinically interest in Psychiatry and academically inclined towards epidemiological research, Bhanu has most recently co-authored an article in The Lancet.

Bhanu says:

“Through personal and professional interactions with people impacted by chronic disease states such as ME/CFS, I have been inspired by the immense impact of research and education of both the public and clinicians about these illnesses, and I’m grateful for the wonderful work done by the Learn about ME project.”

All the Learn about ME project partners are enormously grateful to the judging panel:

  • volunteers with lived experience of ME/CFS
  • Dr Muirhead, creator of Learna’s free CPD training module on ME/CFS
  • Dr Graeme P Currie, Consultant Respiratory Physician, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Editor-in Chief of Journal of Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Dr Shaun Peter Qureshi, Lecturer in Medical Education, University of Dundee, and Churchill Fellow.

First, second, and third prize essays will be shared by Learn about ME project partners Action for M.E., the ME Association and #MEAction Scotland online and/or in our membership magazines, in due course.

Inform your healthcare professional about ME/CFS

  • You can use the template letter to highlight the learning module to your GP or other health professional, along with accompanying Learn about ME podcasts on topics including Long Covid, paediatrics and physiotherapy.


The Learn about ME project is important as care and support for people with ME/CFS in Scotland is often left to GPs. There are no specialist ME/CFS consultants and the only specialist nurse, Keith Anderson, sadly died in 2023. Keith had been running a service through NHS Fife since 2004, but since his death his role has not been replaced.

Sharing key guidance and evidence-based learning is essential, given that often outdated – and potentially harmful – advice is shared with patients around graded exercise.

The Scottish Good Practice Statement on ME/CFS says:

“NICE define graded exercise therapy (GET) as first establishing an individual's baseline of achievable exercise/physical activity, then making fixed incremental increases in the time spent being physically active. After reviewing the evidence based on this definition of GET, the NICE guideline update in October 2021 does not recommend GET as an effective therapy for ME-CFS and that this approach should not be undertaken.”

The Scottish Good Practice Statement (SGPS) on ME/CFS was published in 2010 then partially updated in February 2023 to insert key changes of practice set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guideline NG206: ME/CFS diagnosis and management published in October 2021.

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