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2020 Temple Health Essay Contest

A Year Like No Other

January 25, 2021

Dr. Rick Martin and grandson (left), Emily Hancin (top), Mali Jurkowski, MD (bottom)

This year's Temple Health Essay Contest theme was "2020: A Year Like No Other." We had 19 essays entered by medical students, residents and faculty. Judging was close. As Dr. John Daly, one of our judges, emailed me, "Wow! They were all wonderful and choosing was almost impossible." Most of the essays, as you will see, are about the pandemic. But how it affected each author, and what each chose to write about, is remarkably different. The humanity of our doctors and students, not to mention their gifts as writers, shines through in these essays.

I want to thank my fellow judges Dr. Douglas Reifler, Dr. Naomi Rosenberg, Jerome Wright, Dianne Butera and Dr. Daly. Judges were not given the names of the authors until after the judging was concluded.

We want to congratulate this year's winners and invite you to read their stories below:

  • 1st Place, Rick Martin, MD, an emergency medicine attending for his work of short fiction, Lou.
  • 2nd Place, Emily Hancin, LKSOM class of 2023, for her essay Bending the Rules.
  • 3rd Place, Mali Jurkowski, MD, Internal Medicine PGY-2, for her essay A Lonely Illness.

Dr. Martin, as the winner, will receive dinner for two at Fork, a restaurant in Center City, courtesy of owner and narrative medicine supporter Ellen Yin. 

I hope over the next several weeks to share many of the essays submitted on this page.

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Michael Vitez, winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism at The Philadelphia Inquirer, is the director of narrative medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.