2018 Intima Essay Contest

Submissions are closed

Winner announced: September 2018

 The Art of Anatomy by Khalil Harbie.  Intima , Fall 2013

The Art of Anatomy by Khalil Harbie. Intima, Fall 2013

Vision of contest: The world of medicine is often criticized as being too distant and atomistic, and as tests, diagnoses, and treatments become more sophisticated, an important component—the patient’s story—often gets lost: A chart commonly contains a medical history, but lacks the patient’s narrative and with the ubiquity of EMR, notations are even more impersonal and data-driven.  

Our essay contest aims to bridge this gap. The Intima Essay Contest brings together students of the medical sciences and humanities, medical practitioners, medical humanists and bioethicists, patients, and those interested in the power of narrative in medicine. In our essay contests, we examine a different theme linking the science of medicine to the art of medicine. Our aim is to amplify, enhance and humanize the clinical voice and bring patients and medical professionals into an instructive dialogue together.

Theme: In partnership with the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, this year’s Intima Essay Contest focuses on the theme of compassion in healthcare. The founder of the Schwartz Center, Ken Schwartz, wrote after a harrowing and ultimately fatal 10-month battle with lung cancer: “I have been the recipient of an extraordinary array of human and humane responses to my plight. These acts of kindness – the simple human touch from my caregivers – have made the unbearable bearable.”

In an era of increasingly technical and complex medicine, it can be easy to lose sight of the human connection that forms the foundation of the patient-caregiver relationship. Central to it  is the concept of compassion, a multifaceted force that encompasses empathy, kindness, understanding, giving and advocacy. Despite new biomedical advances that push the boundaries of medicine, there is still no replacement for compassion and the positive force an environment of compassion creates for healing.

Through this contest, we invite your stories of compassion in action, compassion making “the unbearable bearable” in journeys of health and illness.

Purpose of contest and what we are looking for: With this contest, we hope to provide a space for people to share their stories about how compassion shapes encounters between patients and caregivers and contributes to healing and health. Our aim is to catalyze conversation on the many potential manifestations of compassion in healthcare using the medium of narrative medicine. We are looking for essays that might address the following questions:

  • What does compassionate healthcare look like?
  • How did patients and caregivers demonstrate compassion in their words and actions?
  • How did compassion empower patients and promote healing?

We encourage non-fictional personal experiences but fictional essays that describe potential practices will be considered as well. We will evaluate essays by their clarity of writing, originality, potential practical benefits and relevance to the topic.

Judges: The Editorial Board of the Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine and Haider Warraich, M.D., author of Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life

 Haider Warraich, MD   Photo by Shawn Rocco, Duke Health

Haider Warraich, MD  Photo by Shawn Rocco, Duke Health

DR. HAIDER WARRAICH graduated from medical school in Pakistan in 2009. He did his residency in internal medicine at one of Harvard Medical School's main teaching hospitals, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  He is currently a fellow in cardiology at Duke University Medical Center. His medical and Op Ed pieces have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and the LA Times among others.



Prize: The best 5 essays will be published in the Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine in November 2018 (theintima.org) and the winner's profile will be featured along with a Q&A. Additionally, those 5 writers, whose work has been accepted for publication, will receive a copy of Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life by Dr. Haider Warraich.

Who can apply: The contest is open to healthcare professionals and students, medical humanists, patients and the wider public.

Guidelines for submission: Essays should be 1.5 line-spaced, written in font 12, Times New Roman, and limited to 1,500 words. A maximum of 5 references might be used. Please DO NOT include your name or any identifying information on the submission or when naming the document file or your submission  will be disqualified from review.

Essays must  be submitted via Submittable.com. Submissions are now closed.