The fifth annual Association for Academic Psychiatry (AAP) medical student essay contest continued to be a vigorous competition in 2009. This year’s theme remained “The Art of Communication in Psychiatry: Connecting with the Patient,” within the overall framework of “On Becoming a Doctor.” The contest is open to current medical students who will continue to be enrolled students through the time of AAP’s Annual Meeting in the fall. Students submit essays of up to 2,000 words that focus on the themes above. The award consists of free registration and reimbursement of reasonable expenses for the Annual Meeting, and is funded by an anonymous donor. The aim of the competition is to encourage students to engage in academic medicine and to further develop interests in psychiatry and interpersonal aspects of patient care. (Additional information is available via the AAP website, www.academicpsychiatry.org.)
Essays are judged by a panel of AAP members blinded to authorship and following a scoring rubric. Literary quality, uniqueness, and appropriateness to the theme are valued. This year, 13 essays from medical students across Canada and the United States were scored, with many of very high quality.
The 2009 AAP “On Becoming a Doctor” Essay Contest winner is Devon Quasha from Harvard Medical School. Ms. Quasha presented her essay, “A Detour for Leah,” at the AAP Annual Meeting at the end of September in Washington, D.C. The essay thoughtfully raises issues of mentorship, professional development, and humanity, among others.