2012 Humanism In Medicine Essay Contests

Submit to us!

Have a creative work that you're particularly proud of? We invite you to submit it for inclusion in Tabula Rasa and Post Call, an anthology featuring contributions in writing and visual arts from members of the Vandy Med community.

To submit a piece to be considered for publication in the upcoming volume of Tabula Rasa and Post Call, email it as an attachment to postcallanthology@gmail.com. All submissions should meet the following guidelines:

  • Written submissions should be typed and double-spaced.
  • For fiction and non-fiction, please limit submissions to 7,500 words. Excerpts of longer works are welcome, if self-contained.
  • For poetry, there is no line limit.
  • For artwork and photography, we accept pieces in either color or black-and-white. We recommend submitting works in .tif format, but will accept submissions as .jpg, .gif, .png, or .pdf files as well.
  • On a separate page from your submission, submit a one-paragraph biography (approx. 100-125 words will suffice) written in third person. Include your full name, current degree program and year (for students), and professional title and department at VU/VUMC (for faculty/staff).

The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2018. For questions regarding the submission process, contact Vishesh Jain, or review prior years' issues for examples.


Work with us!

Membership in Literature, Arts, and Medicine—that is, attending or presenting at the Cultural Series, submitting to Tabula Rasa and Post Call, or participating in other organization events—is open to all students, housestaff, faculty, and employees of the School of Medicine or Medical Center. No formal process is required; simply check out our Anchorlink page for information on upcoming events, and come join us!

If you would like to become more involved with Literature, Arts, and Medicine, the Cultural Series, or our publications, consider applying for a position on our executive or editorial board. For any questions about these roles, or to discuss other ways to get involved, contact Michelle Izmaylov and Samantha Gridley.

Update, 01/31/2017: Applications for section editors and reviewers are currently closed. Please continue to check this page frequently for updates on new positions and opportunities, and look for an announcement regarding editorial staff applications for the 2018 issue in the fall.


Beyond Vanderbilt

Many medical journals, professional societies, and non-profit/advocacy organizations invite submissions from medical students and physicians in the medical humanities. Below are a number of opportunities you might consider to share your work beyond the Vanderbilt community. Check back frequently, as we'll update this list on a regular basis with new contests, invitations for submissions, or other features that come our way. To post an opportunity to this page, send it to Amol Utrankar.

Current Awards and Contests

William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition (Deadline: 12/31/16)

Annual Opportunities

Stanley M. Kaplan Essay Contest

Gold – Hope Tang, MD Humanism in Medicine Essay Contest

Journals and Publications

Academic Emergency Medicine

Academic Medicine

Annals of Emergency Medicine

Annals of Internal Medicine

Anesthesiology

British Medical Journal

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Family Medicine

Journal of the American Medical Association

JAMA Internal Medicine

Journal of General Internal Medicine

Neurology

Pediatrics

Current Awards and Contests

None active at the moment, but check back for new opportunities in the near future! 

Journals and Publications

Academic Emergency Medicine

"Reflections — The Reflections section publishes essays, poetry, reflective writing, and creative photographs. The general author guidelines listed above should be applied for any text submitted. There is a limit of 600 words, and shorter works that can be used as filler on partial pages are preferred. In most circumstances, photographs will be accepted only in black and white. Each photo should be titled, and should contain a brief legend. If the photo includes identifiable patients, health care providers, or other individuals, permission must be obtained to publish them in the journal. Reflections are published on a space-available basis. Contact: Brian Zink, MD (bzink@lifespan.org)."

Academic Medicine

"Medicine and the Arts (MATA) — This column is the journal's longest-running feature. It is published on two facing pages. The left-hand page features an excerpt from literature, a poem, a photograph, etc. Literature excerpts generally run no more than 700 words and may include a very brief introduction as needed. The right-hand page presents an original commentary of about 900 words that explores the relevance of the artwork to the teaching and/or practice of medicine. Since submissions cannot be fully accepted for publication until Academic Medicine acquires permission to reprint literary excerpts or artworks, authors should include all relevant information about the piece they are explicating (publisher, museum, dates, etc.) to enable staff editors to find and contact the copyright holder."

"Teaching and Learning Moments (TLM) — This feature is published on a regular but space-available basis. Pieces vary in style and subject, but most are first-person, informal narratives written from the perspective of instructor, student, or patient. Typically, the author relates an experience or idea that provides a lesson applicable to the art or science of teaching, learning, or practicing medicine. Essays should be no more than 600 words and must fit on one journal page."

Annals of Emergency Medicine

"Change of Shift — Original personal essays or poetry reflecting the human experience of emergency medicine. Selection for this section will be based on originality of concept, eloquence, and suitability for our readership. Maximum 1,500 words. See an example manuscript here."

Anesthesiology

"Mind to Mind — Mind to Mind is a creative writing section devoted to exploring the abstract realm of our profession and our lives. Submitted works can be poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Limit submissions to 1,200 words or less. Authors should be a current or emeritus member of the anesthesia, perioperative, critical care, or pain teams, including students, writing on any topic. Patients may submit writing about their medical experience. Entries may be published anonymously at the author’s request, though names and conflict of interest information are required during submission. All entries must respect complete confidentiality."

"Images in Anesthesiology — These succinct submissions couple an interesting, novel, or highly educational image with text designed to highlight the pertinent anesthesiology-focused information displayed by the visual. Supplemental video content can be included to expand the visual learning. The focus of an IiA submission is the image itself and key educational points raised in the body of the text should be directly related to observation of the image. The IiA section of the Journal is not intended to be used as a forum for case reports. IiA manuscripts are intended to educate medical students, residents, fellows, anesthesiology practitioners, and interested physicians and scientists. IiA manuscripts are limited to 250 words, should include 3 references, and must not have more than 4 authors. The image should be one frame that on occasion might have two coupled panels. Labeling of the image should focus attention to the intended educational message. Rather than including a legend for the image, its description should be incorporated into the body of the text."

Annals of Internal Medicine

"Graphic Narrative/Comic — Original graphic narratives, comics, animation/video, and other creative forms addressing medically relevant topics. We encourage work capturing the experiences of those who provide and receive care, be they poignant, thought-provoking, or just plain entertaining." [Link]

"On Being a Doctor — Short personal essays about the experiences of physicians. 1500 words maximum (excludes references). Typically includes no references, but can include up to 5 if necessary." [Link]

"Ad Libitum — Poetry, original work not previously published elsewhere (≤ 80 lines)." [Link]

"Medicine and Public Issues — Articles related to the economic, ethical, sociologic, or political environment in medicine." [Link]

"Personae — Photographs that capture the personality of people in the context of their daily lives." [Link]

British Medical Journal

"Personal View — A personal view is a piece of highly readable and compelling comment that appeals to our international readership of practising doctors. These original, opinion based essays strictly by a single author have no more than 600 words and up to 10 references. The best personal view pieces make a single strong, novel, and well argued point. They are also often topical, insightful, and attention grabbing. We publish anonymous personal view articles only by special arrangement when it would be impossible for the article to appear with the author's name. Accepted articles are all published on thebmj.com, the canonical form of the journal, but may not be published in print. Please submit online at http://submit.bmj.com. We cannot promise publication before the piece is submitted."

"Fillers — These should be submitted as "Fillers" via our online editorial office. Fillers are short articles to entertain readers and make them think. They evolved to fill a gap in the print version of The BMJ. Now, accepted submissions are published online, and some are chosen to appear in print. To be suitable for print Fillers must be less than 300 words. Slightly longer articles may be considered but are unlikely to appear in print. We welcome submissions on topics such as:

  • A patient who changed my practice
  • A memorable patient
  • A paper that changed my practice
  • The person who has most influenced me
  • My most informative mistake
  • Any other story conveying instruction, pathos, or humour​
  • Endpieces - quotations of no more than 80 words (often fewer) from any source"

"MinervaPictures — These should be submitted as "Minerva" via our online editorial office and should follow our specific advice onsubmitting images. Please provide two or three sentences (no more than 100 words) explaining the picture, and please send us the signed consent to publication from the patient. We need written consent from every patient, parent or next of kin, regardless of whether the patient can be identified or not from the picture. Please make sure that the text includes all authors' names together with their job titles and addresses (including departments' and hospitals' names) at the time the patient was seen, and the email address of the corresponding author. We also need to recieve statements of competing interests and copyright/licence. Pictures we are more likely to accept are those which offer an educational message and which will publish clearly and depict the abnormality obviously."

Canadian Medical Association Journal

"Profiles — CMAJ's 'Profiles' situate biomedical and health practitioners in the political, economic, sociocultural and technological landscapes of their time. Two types are presented: profiles that focus on individuals of historical importance and those that feature a person who currently shapes health perceptions and policy. Profiles are commissioned, but ideas are welcome.

Submissions should include a maximum of 10 references formatted in the Vancouver style, and be no more than 1,400 words (including references)."

"Encounters — These narratives give patients and health care practitioners room for reflection on their experience of illness or medicine. We especially value contributions that convey personal and professional encounters with a sense of immediacy and realism. The writing should be candid, but with patient and colleague confidentiality respected. Signed releases must be obtained from all people who may potentially self-identify. Narratives should be limited to 1,400 words."

Family Medicine

"Narrative Essays — Family medicine is a discipline defined as much by our stories as by our science. Narrative essays published in Family Medicine should be stories (or poems) from clinical practice or from the educational setting and may be submitted by teachers, learners, patients, or health professionals. Narrative essays published in the journal are considered to be scholarly articles and will be peer-reviewed as carefully as original articles and brief reports."

Journal of the American Medical Association

"A Piece of My Mind — Most essays published in A Piece of My Mind are personal vignettes (eg, exploring the dynamics of the patient-physician relationship) taken from wide-ranging experiences in medicine; occasional pieces express views and opinions on the myriad issues that affect the profession. If the patient(s) described in these manuscripts is identifiable, a Patient Permission form must be completed and signed by the patient(s) and submitted with the manuscript. Omitting data or making data less specific to deidentify patients is acceptable, but changing any such data is not acceptable. Manuscripts are not published anonymously or pseudonymously and must have no more than 3 authors. All manuscripts must be submitted formally at JAMA's website; we do not review drafts or unfinished manuscripts prior to submission. Length limit: 1600 words."

"Poetry and Medicine — Poems related to the medical experience, whether from the point of view of a health care worker or patient, or simply an observer, will be considered. Poems should be original, not previously published or under consideration elsewhere, and no longer than 50 lines. Authors may submit multiple poems to JAMA simultaneously. Questions about submitting poems may be sent to jamapoems@jamanetwork.org."

JAMA Internal Medicine

"Less Is More — Less Is More®” articles present patients’ and physicians’ perspectives on their health care experiences, with special emphasis on examples when more care is not always better, even to the point where it is perceived as harmful. Maximum specifications: up to 1200 words of text—or 1000 words with 1 small table and/or figure (excluding title, byline, and references); no more than 7 references; up to 3 authors. For more information on patient identifiability, see Teachable Moments (below)."

"Teachable Moments — The Teachable Moments series is designed to encourage trainees at all levels to submit articles that bring attention to the harms that can result from medical overuse and from underuse of needed medical interventions. Our long-term aim is to promote appropriate medical care. Each Teachable Moments manuscript should include a clinical vignette headed “Story From the Front Lines” (an engaging story with enough clinical information for JAMA Internal Medicine readers to understand the clinical issues) and a summary of the clinical issues headed “Teachable Moment” (a succinct summary of the clinical issues, stating the evidence for over-testing or under-testing or treatment and suggesting an alternative approach). The manuscript should be given a title that reflects the specific focus. The first author must be a trainee (professional student, intern, resident, fellow, masters or doctoral student, or postdoctoral student). Please describe the level of training of the first author at the time the manuscript was prepared and the role of the trainee in preparing, drafting, and revising the article. Articles should not exceed 800 words and 5 references, and should have a maximum of 3 authors. A signed Patient Permission form must be included at the time of initial submission."

"Images From Our Readers — We welcome the submission of images from members of the health care community that have special significance to them and that would be of interest and relevance to our readers. Each image should carry with it a short, descriptive caption. We limit submissions to 8 per calendar year and no more than 4 in any one month. The permission form, which applies to this section only, is available here."

Journal of General Internal Medicine

"Clinical Images​ — Clinical images report on visual findings in clinical medicine that have educational value. They can include radiology results, high quality clinical images, or electrocardiograms. Images should have a text description that does not exceed 200 words. No more than three authors may be listed. In the initial submission (for clinical images ONLY), each image should be sent as a separate file with the submitted text. Images should either have individually identifying information removed or masked at submission, or specific written consent to include identifying information. Please either mask the subject's identity or gain their permission prior to submission; such permission should be confirmed by completion of the JGIM Statement of Patient Consent."

"Materia Medica — Well-crafted and engaging personal narratives, essays, or short stories of up to 1000 words or poetry of up to 40 lines. Works should tell a story that informs and illuminates the practice and teaching of medicine. Non-fiction manuscripts must either disguise or protect persons’ identities, or permission must be obtained from the individual and confirmed by completion of the JGIM Statement of Patient Consent. Multiple poems should be submitted separately, generating individual manuscript tracking numbers."

"Text and Context — Medical humanites teaching modules that include a 200-800 word excerpt from the humanites (novels, short stories, historiography, drama, visual art, or creative nonfiction) with an accompanying essay of up to 1000 words discussing the significance of the work for clinical practice or medical education. Submissions should include 1-3 learning objectives ordiscussion questions and may include up to 5 references. Please consult the January 2010 JGIM for an example of Text and Context. Authors must provide a detailed reference of the cited excerpt and obtain any needed copyright permission if the submission is accepted."

"Sketchbook — Sketches, drawings, and comics on topics illuminating health and medicine. Black/white/grayscale only. Graphic memoir (sometimes called graphic narrative) will be considered but must fit onto a single page of the print JGIM. Provide a title for the Sketchbook submission. Submit two versions: one PDF, and one TIFF file 300 DPI."

Neurology

"Reflections: Neurology and the Humanities — Reflections: Neurology and the Humanities submissions may be in the form of poetry or prose. Many neurologists are talented writers. Reflections is intended as a venue for them. Its purpose is to encourage creative writing about topics of interest to neurologists. There are no hard and fast rules about subject matter, but items that illustrate facets of the profession of neurology, particularly if written from a new perspective, are preferred. The quality of the writing style will be as important as the content. Submissions may be fiction or non-fiction. Privacy rules apply. Accepted, published submissions to Reflections are eligible for the Annual AAN Creative Expression of Human Values in Neurology Award. Published submissions are reviewed at the end of December each year. The Award is then presented the following year at the Annual AAN Meeting. Consult the Awards Section of the AAN website for details. Only authors who are members of the AAN can be considered for the Award. Specifications: Maximum length of 2000 words; must reference if published elsewhere."

"Visions — Visions intended as a venue for artistic contributions by neurologists. These images are medically or scientifically related artistic images, such as photographs, photomicrographs, and paintings, rather than the medically instructive images published in the NeuroImages section. Multiple images may be submitted, but we suggest no more than 6 images so that reproduction on a single page will not compromise the depiction. The image or series of images may be black and white or color and must fit into one published journal page. Accompanying wording should be 100 words or less. Specifications: A title of 96 characters maximum (including spaces and punctuation); no more than 6 images; a description of 100 words or less; must fit on one published journal page."

Pediatrics

​"Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT) Monthly Feature — This section publishes insightful updates and opinion articles on all aspects of pediatrics, written from the unique perspective of the trainee.

The goal of the editorial board of the AAP Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT) Monthly Feature is to work with trainee authors to develop thoughtful and timely articles related to pediatrics that appeal to everyone from medical students to well-seasoned practitioners. Topic content that focuses on training in pediatric medicine is preferred, but a range of other content areas will be considered. Topics should be relevant to students, residents and fellows, but also of general interest to the readership of Pediatrics. The issue being discussed must be uniquely viewed from the trainee’s perspective, not from that of the supervisor, educator or attending.

A few questions to consider when writing include: Why is the issue important? What is causing the problem to persist? How might it be corrected? How is this issue important to pediatricians in training? How might it affect pediatric medicine in the future? We are looking for authors who take a stand and support it with evidence from the literature, and for articles with an “edge”. A narrative thread that engages the reader and includes observations drawn from the author’s clinical and professional experiences is recommended."

Writing prompt: Reflect on the following quote. “To most physicians, my illness is a routine incident in their rounds, while for me it’s the crisis of my life. I would feel better if I had a doctor who at least perceived this incongruity.”  –Anatole Broyard

First Place: It’s Not OKby Samuel W. Baker, 4th year student at Temple University School of Medicine

Second Place: Doorsby Michael Barnett, 3rd year student at Harvard Medical School

Third Place: An essayby Vivek G. Sahani, 2nd year student at UMDNJ – School of Osteopathic Medicine

Honorable Mentions:

  • Murtaza Akhter, 3rd year student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Kim Armenta, 4th year student at Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Yian Chen, 1sr year student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Annie Dude, 3rd year student at University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine
  • Jennifer Hasvold, 3rd year student at University of Michigan Medical School
  • Elizabeth McMillen, 4th year student at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Adam Mikolajczyk, 2nd year student at University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine
  • Susie Morris, 3rd year student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Jason Oppenheimer, 3rd year student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Neil Parikh, 4th year student at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Christopher Shaffer, 3rd year student at Temple University School of Medicine
  • Adam Vukovic, 4th year student at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

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