Virtual Mentor

John Conley Ethics Essay Contest for Medical Students

Each spring, Virtual Mentor poses a question in medical ethics or professionalism as the topic for that year's ethics essay contest. All current U.S. medical students (MD and DO) are invited to submit essays of up to 2,000 words in response to the question. Essays are judged on clarity of presentation, writing style, and applicability of the argument to actual decision making. The author of the best essay receives an award of $5,000, and, when more than one exceptional entry is received, authors of up to three runner-up essays receive $1,000 prizes. Winning essays are published in Virtual Mentor.

This annual ethics essay contest for medical students is supported by the John Conley Foundation for Ethics and Philosophy in Medicine. Dr. John J. Conley (1912-1999) was an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon with a passion for medicine and its ethical practice. In addition to establishing the student ethics essay contest, Dr. Conley endowed an annual ethics and philosophy lectureship at College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, where he was clinical professor of otolaryngology for many years.

The essay contest was administered by JAMA until 2004, when Virtual Mentor became its home. Essays must not have been previously published in print or electronic format and must not have been submitted to any other journal during the review period.

Essays must be typed and double-spaced, with the author's identification (name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and medical school class) on a cover sheet only—not on the essay pages; authors will be anonymous to the judges.

2014 Scenario and Instructions for Entering

Winning Essays