CFS: Narrative Essay Contest

Narrative Med Essay Contest from the Intima
For more information and submission forms visit :

Vision of Contest: The medical institution is often criticized as too distant from the patient, too cold, too atomistic. Many claim that the more sophisticated our diagnoses, tests and treatments become, the less attention is given to the patient’s narrative, a story of which health and disease are mere chapters. A patient’s chart commonly contains the patient’s history, describing the patient’s complaints, past and current conditions etc., but usually, it lacks a description of the patient’s narrative, the patient’s inner world, the patient’s values and fears. This essay contest aims to bridge the alleged gap between the patient’s medical history and his or her narrative. The contest is meant to bring together students of the medical sciences and humanities, medical practitioners, medical humanists and bioethicists, patients, and the wider public who believe and are interested in the power of narrative in medicine. Every year, we will examine a different theme linking the science of medicine to the art of medicine. Our aim, however, will remain the same: to improve healthcare, to make medicine more holistic, to amplify the patient’s voice and to bring patients and medical professionals together into an instructive dialogue. Every year we will designate a referee who is independent of the Intima’s editorial team to choose his/her favorite essay from a shortlist selected by the editors.

Theme For This Year’s Contest: In “Being Ill,” Virginia Woolf writes: (sic) “There is, let us confess it (and illness is the great confessional), a childish outspokenness in illness; things are said, truths blurted out, which the cautious respectability of health conceals. About sympathy for example- we can do without it.”
Purpose of Contest and What We Are Looking For: The purpose of the contest is to provide a space for people to offer their interpretation of these beautiful words. We are looking for essays or poems that would address the following questions: how does the sentence relate to your own personal experience? In what ways can the quote ameliorate patient care and broaden our understanding of disease? How would you deconstruct these words? We encourage non-fictional personal experiences as well as fictional essays/ poems. We will evaluate essays/ poems by their clarity of writing, originality, potential practical benefits and relevance to the topic.
Referee Information: This year, our referee will be Ms. Susannah Cahalan. Susannah Cahalan is an award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestselling author of “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.” She currently oversees the books section of the New York Post’s Postscript section. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Glamour, the New York Times, and others.
Prizes: The best five essays/ poems will be published in the next issue of Intima. The referee will grant a signed copy of one of her books to the author of the essay/poem that will be selected as first place.
Who Can Apply: The contest is open to healthcare professionals and students, medical humanists, caregivers, patients and the wider public.
Guidelines For Submission: Manuscripts should be 1.5 line-spaced, written in font 12, Times New Roman, and limited to 3000 words. A maximum of 5 references may be used. The main text of the manuscript should be numbered and titled in bold, without the name of the author. The title should also appear in the file’s name, without the name of the author. Deadline for submissions is December 30th, 1pm eastern time.


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