Carol A. Bowman Creative Writing Contest

Established by Richard Caplan, M.D.

Sponsored by the UI Carver College of Medicine's Writing and Humanities Program.

2024 Winning Entries

See Previous Years' entries and results.

2024 Judges

  • Carol Scott-Conner, MD
  • Brittany Bettendorf, MD

Contest Guidelines

A Message from Dr. Richard Caplan, M.D.

I established the Carol A. Bowman Creative Writing Contest after the death of Dr. Bowman, who had just received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in Medical Humanities, although for several years I had been sponsor of such an effort in cooperation with Vital Signs. The purpose was to encourage medical students to reflect on their new experiences in the world of medicine and to encourage the process and discipline of putting words on paper effectively, and to enjoy the satisfactions of creative effort.

The Program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities in conjunction with the Writing and Humanities Program is pleased to announce this creative writing contest for medical students. Entries may be of any length or literary genre (fiction, essay, poetry, drama, memoir). The purpose of the contest is to stimulate student writing and thoughtful expression of the many and new experiences students encounter while in medical school.

2024 Prizes

  • 1st: $400

  • 2nd: $250

  • 3rd: $150

The winning submissions will be published with author approval to be distributed (gratis) online and in The Examined Life Journal. Entries may be published with the author's permission on our website or in printed form.

Copies of winning submissions from prior contests are available from the links above. Submissions may be made at any time before the submission deadline of 11:45 p.m. Monday, March 11, 2024. Only medical students of the UI Carver College of Medicine are eligible to enter this contest.

Word Limit: 5000 or fewer.

Winners will be announced in April, 2024.

Questions? Visit, email, or call David Etler at 335-8058, 1191 MERF.

About the Contest

Carol Bowman received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in the Medical Humanities in May 1992. Soon after, she was found to have a malignancy from which she died in July 1993 after a valiant, difficult struggle. She had been a successful writer herself, a counselor regarding substance abuse, as well as an enthusiastic teacher of high school and medical students. This contest is meant as a memorial to her concern for the humane treatment of patients and students.