The BSANZ Medical Student Reflective Essay Competition

Medical Student Writing Prize 2021

The Board of the Balint Society of Australia and New Zealand (BSANZ) is now inviting medical students in Australia and New Zealand to submit an essay to the biannual BSANZ Essay Competition.  Previous essays can be found on the Past Winners page.


Past Winners

Entries for the 2021 competition have closed.
The next essay competition will be in 2023.

The reviewers are currently judging the entries for the 2021 prize.

This 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.


Further information is found in the BSANZ Writing Competition for Medical Students 2021 (PDF)