Annual Student Writing Competition

A country-wide challenge

Canadian medical students and residents are invited to submit reflective essays, poetry or short fiction that explore the intersection of mental health and the humanities to the Dalhousie Department of Psychiatry Annual Student Writing Contest. Each year, one entry in each category (medical student and postgraduate trainee) will be selected to receive a $100 cash prize.* Winning entries will be published in the Department of Psychiatry newsletter, Headlines, and below.

*Awards in each category may not be given each year depending on the number and/or quality of the submissions.

Interested in learning more about the competition? Read a published report on the first decade of the competition (2010-2019).

Eligibility: Medical students, residents and fellows at Canadian medical schools.

Maximum word count: 2,000 words

Deadline: May 1, 2024

Results of the competition will be announced in September 2024.

How to make a submission:

Entries can be sent as PDF attachments to the Department of Psychiatry Medical Humanities Coordinator, Dr. Leigh Meldrum, at Please indicate in your email whether you are a medical student or a resident/fellow.

To ensure confidentiality is maintained, patients and anyone else described in essays, stories or poems must be fictional or composite characters (with the exception of the narrator him/herself). Faculty and a resident from the Dalhousie Department of Psychiatry and creative writers teaching at Dalhousie University will act as judges.

Full competition rules and regulations [PDF - 145KB]

*WARNING* Some winning entries contain sensitive content that some readers may find offensive or disturbing.  

2023 Winner

Medical Student Category:  

  • Hannah Dolin, University of Toronto
    Read Hannah's winning entry, I've got life [PDF - 93KB]

Previous Winners

2022 Winners

Medical Student Category (tie):  

  • Katharine Birkness, Dalhousie University
    Read Katharine's winning entry [PDF - 76KB]
  • Olha Lutsiv, University of Alberta
    Read Olha's winning entry, What's in a word... [PDF - 55KB]

Postgraduate Trainee Category:

  • Dr. Sarah Latonas, Northern Ontario School of Medicine
    Read Sarah's winning entry, Storm Warning [PDF - 54KB]

2021 Winners

Medical Student Category:  

Postgraduate Trainee Category:

  • Howie Wu, University of Calgary
    Read Howie's winning entry, The Bridge [PDF - 30KB]

2020 Winners

Medical Student Category:  

  • Sofia Zhang-Jiang, University of British Columbia
    Read Sofia's winning entry, Perspective [PDF - 103KB]

Postgraduate Trainee Category: (tie)

  • Marlon Danilewitz, University of British Columbia
    Read Marlon's winning entry, Brothers of the Night [PDF - 30KB]
  • Brendan Morgan, Dalhousie University
    Read Brendan's winning entry, A Frigid January River [PDF - 25KB]

2019 Winners

Medical Student Category:  

  • First Place: Robin MacDonnell, University of British Columbia
    Read Robin's winning entry, Uncomfortable [PDF - 31KB]

Postgraduate Trainee Category:

  • First Place: Patricia Celan, Dalhousie University
    Read Patricia's winning entry, Sunrise [PDF - 521KB]

2018 Winners

Medical Student Category:  

  • First Place: Ashleigh Frayne, University of Calgary
    Read Ashleigh's's winning entry, Countertransference [PDF - 271KB]

Postgraduate Trainee Category: (a tie)

  • First Place: Harald Gjerde, Dalhousie University
    Read Harald's winning entry, Le Fou Bonnet [PDF - 31KB]
  • First Place: Carolyn Reardon, University of Toronto
    Read Carolyn's winning entry, The Bungalow [279KB]

2017 Winners

Medical Student Category: (a tie)

Postgraduate Trainee Category:

  • First Place: Sarah Tulk, McMaster University
    Read Sarah's winning entry, The Edge [PDF - 30KB]

2015 Winners

Medical Student Category:

  • First Place: Savannah Silva, McMaster University
    Read Savannah's winning entry, Cautery [PDF - 55KB]
  • Honourable Mention: Paige Zhang, University of Toronto

Postgraduate Trainee Category:

  • First Place: Heather Laakso, University of Toronto
    Read Heather's winning entry, Grandfather's Chair [PDF - 43KB]
  • Honourable Mention: Marissa Tsoi, University of Toronto
  • Honourable Mention: Joanne Reid, Dalhousie University

2014 Winners

Medical Student Category:

  • First Place: Benjamin Huang, University of British Columbia
    Read Benjamin's winning entry, Closure [PDF - 70KB]
  • Honourable Mention: Jennifer Zhang, Western University
  • Honourable Mention: Kayla Simms, University of Ottawa

Postgraduate Trainee Category:

  • First Place: Susan McNair, McMaster University
    Read Susan's winning entry, Sitting at 90 degrees [PDF - 64KB]
  • Honourable Mention: Ali Hirji, Memorial University

2013 Winners

Medical Student Category:

  • First Place: Sophie Palmer, Queen's University, EtOH
    Not available as per author's request
  • Honourable Mention: Christie Rampersad, University of Manitoba
  • Honourable Mention: Kristel Leung, University of British Columbia

Postgraduate Trainee Category:

  • First Place: Alim Nagji, University of Alberta
    Read Alim's winning entry, Spinning Spirits [PDF - 43KB]
  • Honourable Mention: Ali Murtaza Hirji, Memorial University

2012 Winners

Medical Student Category:

  • First Place: Stefania Spano, Queen's University
    Read Stefania's winning entry, Out of Service
  • Honourable Mention: Carolyn Reardon, Dalhousie University
  • Honourable Mention: Jonathan Ding, University of Toronto

Postgraduate Trainee Category:

  • First Place: Tamar Rubin, University of Alberta
    Read Tamar's winning entry, Chinatown [PDF - 9KB]
  • Honourable Mention: Barinder Singh, Queen's University

2011 Winners

  • First Place: Meghan Doraty, University of Calgary
    Read Meghan's winning entry, Cadaver Girl [PDF - 44KB]
  • Honorable Mention: Mohammad Bardi, University of British Columbia
  • Honorable Mention: Amanda Lepp, Queen's University

2010 Winners

  • First Place: Sarah Fraser, Dalhousie University, Med I
    Read Sarah's winning entry, Casey's Slope [PDF - 35KB]
  • Honorable Mention: Michael Steeves, Dalhousie University, Med I
  • Honorable Mention: Christine Saveland, Dalhousie Univeristy, Med IV