The BSANZ Medical Student Reflective Essay Competition

Medical Student Writing Prize 2021 Results

There were 45 entries this year, with a very high standard of writing. Congratulations to Madison Booth and Stephanie Lee who have received The Lawrence Gilbert Memorial Prizes.


Past Winners


Homecoming (PDF)

Beyond the Medical

by Stephanie Lee


An unexpected journey (PDF)

Too Momentous for Words

by Madison Booth

We would like to congratulate all the students for their perceptive essays about their interactions with significant patients, as well as for their insights about the nature of clinical training and medical practice. Four essays have been submitted for publication in relevant medical journals (Journal of Primary Health Care (NZ) and The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine (US)). With students’ permission, some essays have been posted on this website in 2022.

The next competition will be in 2023. Students will be notified through their electronic notice boards as well as through relevant Facebook pages.

Many thanks to students and our reviewers who have made this essay competition such a success.

Alexa Gilbert-Obrart and Hamish Wilson
On behalf of the BSANZ.

Requirements for essays entered for the 2023 prize

The reflective essay should describe your experiences of learning within your medical studies, usually focusing on your significant interactions with one or more patients (i.e. the student-patient relationship). The essay needs to include critical reflection on the implications of this learning with respect to becoming a doctor.

Each essay should include:

  • Description: A detailed presentation of a personal experience of learning such as a significant student-patient interaction or an ongoing clinical relationship.
  • Analysis: Review or reflection on how you experienced the interaction or situation, either as part of the medical team or individually. Analysis should include your thoughts and feelings, your perception of the situation, the challenges faced and how you responded.
  • Implications or ‘critical reflection’: The impact of this experience on your approach to clinical practice, your emerging ideas about becoming a doctor and/or consideration of ways in which medical training might enhance the capacity of students to engage thoughtfully and compassionately in patient care.


  • The Lawrence Gilbert Memorial Prizes of A$500 will be awarded to the two top essays.
  • The top 2-3 essays will be submitted to the Journal of the Balint Society UK for possible publication.
  • Winners or runner-ups may be offered subsidised attendance at future BSANZ annual workshops in Australia or NZ.

Helpful tips

  1. Use a short and accurate title that reflects the theme or content of the essay.
  2. Essays must be in English, between 1000 and 2000 words.
  3. Please use 12-point font, 1.5 spacing, Word documents only, not PDF.
  4. The essay should focus on the student-patient relationship and/or challenges to professional identity, rather than on ethical analysis.
  5. Explain all abbreviations or acronyms.
  6. Be mindful of patient confidentiality; ensure patients or staff cannot be identified and use pseudonyms rather than real initials.
  7. Previously submitted course work must be carefully reworked to de-identify the university and the city.
  8. Published work for medical theses or diplomas should not be submitted.

Students entering the competition will also receive the regular BSANZ email newsletter about the activities of the Society. There is an unsubscribe option at the bottom of every email to opt off at any time.

 Competition organisers

Associate Professor Hamish Wilson, University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ and Alexa Gilbert-Obrart from Sydney, Australia and London, UK.