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Berlin Prizes for Creative Writing celebrate humanities in medicine

Students recognized for poetry, essays at tenth annual event

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

April 11, 2014
Winners of the 10th annual Berlin Prizes for Creative Writing
Berlin Creative Writing Prize Award winners (from left) Christopher Chang, Matthew Sloan, Benjamin Adler, Laurel Dezieck, Lindsay Romo and Aylin Sert are pictured here with (second from right) Richard Berlin.

Winners of the 10th annual Berlin Prizes for Creative Writing were recognized at a ceremony featuring readings of excerpts from their award-winning works. The celebration took place at UMass Medical School on Thursday, April 10, at the Lamar Soutter Library.

The competition was established by award-winning poet and physician Richard Berlin, MD, senior affiliate in psychiatry, and is jointly sponsored by the Offices of Student Affairs and Educational Affairs and the Humanities in Medicine Committee, with support from the Lamar Soutter Library.

Dr. Berlin established the award to encourage creative writing among UMMS students and residents, and to honor his father who struggled with a severe chronic illness. He is the author of the poetry collection, How JFK Killed My Father, which describes his father's illness and his own career in medicine, and the book Secret Wounds.

“Creative writing gives medical students a special opportunity to reflect on their experiences, to maintain their humanity and to heighten their empathy for the suffering of their patients,” said Berlin. “These are qualities that bring doctors closer to their patients, and I know these are the qualities my father always looked for and admired in his own physicians.”

Berlin presented the awards following opening remarks from Elaine Martin, DA, director of the Lamar Soutter Library; David Hatem, MD, professor of medicine and co-chair of the Humanities in Medicine Committee; and Michael Kneeland, MD, MPH, clinical professor of family medicine & community health and interim associate dean for student affairs.

First-prize winner Laurel Dezieck, SOM ’15, received a cash prize of $100, and her winning entry will be published in both Worcester Medicine and the Berkshire Medical Journal.

The 2014 Berlin Prizes for Creative writing were awarded to:
First Prize:
Laurel Dezieck, SOM ’15, for La Blanche and the Consumptive
Second Prize: Lindsay Romo (MD/PhD student) for Stroke of Justice
Third Prize: Christopher Chang, MD (family medicine resident) for COPD (End Stage)

Honorable Mentions:
Benjamin Adler, SOM ’16, for The Shadow
Christopher Chang, MD, (family medicine resident) for Three Tankas
Jyotsna Mullur, SOM ’16, for Parting Thoughts
Brian Schneider, MD, (medicine/pediatrics resident) for And What’s That?
Aylin Sert, SOM ’16, for The Lesson You Have Taught me
Matthew Sloan, SOM ’15, for We Were Called to the Emergency Department