Essay Required for the Medicine Clerkship
Each student in the Medicine clerkship is responsible for writing
one formal essay to be submitted to the teaching attending and to the
Department of Medicine (via email). The essay is due one week before
the end of the clerkship.
The purpose of this exercise is to encourage development of narrative
skills, which are so important, since all physicians must develop facility
in synthesizing information into a logical and comprehensible story.
We encourage students to think in broad terms, and to view medicine
in its fullest context.
The essay should be based upon a brief case report, which could include
the chief complaint, pertinent history, physical findings and laboratory
results, formulation leading to diagnosis, and outcome. We recommend
that this part of the essay be approximately six or seven lines, just
to set the stage for your subsequent discussion.
The focus of the essay could be artistic, biological, chemical, economic,
geographic, historical, literary, mathematical, mechanistic, metaphysical,
ethical, humanistic or any other area of interest to you. The total
length of the written work should be under 1,000 words. All essays should
be in complete English sentences, except that poetry is possible. Reference
citations should be ten or fewer. The essay must be the student’s
Examples of the kinds of essays we expect can be found in the following
books: The Lives of a Cell and The Youngest Science
(by Lewis Thomas, MD), The Woods Hole Cantata
(by Gerald Weissmann, MD), The Midnight Meal
(by Jerome Lowenstein, MD), and On Doctoring
(by Richard Reynolds, MD and John Stone, MD). Other examples of personal
essays can be found in The Lancet, The
Annals of Internal Medicine, and JAMA.
In evaluating the quality of the essay, we will assess logic, narrative
flow, style, insight and clarity. Submission
of an acceptable essay is a requirement for satisfactorily completing
the medical clerkship.
We hope that you will enjoy this exercise, and that it will stimulate
you to submit many manuscripts for publication in scientific journals
during your professional career. At the end of each clerkship block,
we will give up to five Awards for the best essays. These will be presented
at a reception at the end of the clerkship. The award titles are:
- Clerkship Award For Outstanding Essay In Medical Humanism
- Clerkship Award For Outstanding Essay In Medical Science
- Clerkship Award For Outstanding Essay In Philosophy of Medicine
- Clerkship Award For Outstanding Essay In Pathophysiology of Disease
- Clerkship Award For Outstanding Essay In Creative Arts