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Robert D. Sparks Writing Contest

Medicine Explored In Context

The purpose of this contest is to examine the influences of history, ethics, culture, literature, philosophy, sociology, or related frameworks on medicine, the practice of medicine, and the human condition.

2023 Winners

PietroHistory, Ethics, Culture: their influences on medicine and its practice

The contest offers up to two $1,200 awards that will be given to the best submissions that examine a significant issue in medicine using ethical, historical, or cultural perspectives. In case of a tie, judges reserve the right to split a prize. This competition is open to all medical students and physician assistant students enrolled in the UI Carver College of Medicine.  In order to maximize the value of the award, and to be consistent with UI financial policies, the award will be applied as financial aid to reduce your student loan debt (if you are a student receiving full financial aid) or it may be used to help support professional development such as conference registration/travel to a conference of interest to you. Outstanding submissions will be original work based on sound research, personal experience, or other methods of analysis relevant to the specific discipline involved.

  • Contest offers up to two winners at $1,200 each
  • Honorable mention
  • Deadline for entry: March 14, 2023
  • Prizes awarded: first week of April 2023

This writing contest is designed to encourage thinking and analysis beyond the traditional areas of the basic sciences in order to broaden students' understanding of medicine and medical practice.  Submissions should examine medical issues and the human condition within the context of history, ethics, culture, literature, philosophy, sociology, or related frameworks.  Submissions are limited to defined prose genres, but can be either scholarly or creative, fiction or non-fiction.  Representative genres include scholarly essays, short stories, biographical or autobiographical expositions, or substantive and critical literature reviews. Creative writing must clearly incorporate one or more of the frameworks included in the purpose.  Submissions will be judged on their originality, organization, clarity, accuracy and creativity.  One submission can be entered per author. Submissions should be 2,500-5,000 words in length, double spaced with 1-inch margins in a 12 point font (approximately 12 to 20 pages). Footnotes do not need to be counted in the submission word count.

When citations are used, any academic note reference and citation style is allowed as long as page references are provided to specific quotations and sources of information. The style used by JAMA (see "References" in JAMA's Instructions for Authors at (https://www.amamanualofstyle.com/) is appropriate. 

Send completed submissions electronically by midnight the night of the deadline date listed above.  Submissions must begin with a title page containing a title and date. The information on the submission form will be removed so that the submissions may be evaluated anonymously. 

To access the submission form, CLICK HERE:

For additional information, contact:

Noel VanDenBosch
Administrative Services Specialist, Program in Bioethics and Humanities 
noel-vandenbosch@uiowa.edu/ 319.467.1233

Advice and Resources: