Paul Kalanithi Writing Award

Paul Kalanithi was a physician writer and neurosurgery resident at Stanford University. In the final years of his training, he was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. His memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, beautifully chronicles his reflections on living with illness and the meaning of legacy. The Paul Kalanithi Writing Award was created in his memory. 

Open for submissions: November 8, 2023

This short documentary by Stanford videographer Mark Hanlon captures Paul Kalanithi’s shifting perception of time while living with terminal cancer.

Lucy Kalanithi often visits the gravesite of her husband, Paul Kalanithi, with the couple’s daughter, Cady, to picnic and leave flowers. (Photo by Timothy Archibald)

Prize Winners

2022 Prize Winners

First place: Sick Girl Goes on a Date | Alyson Lee

Second place: To Sit With | Brian Zhao

Third place: What That Poem was About | Fiona Miller

Fourth place: I Wear You Like a Memory | Nicolas Seranio

Honorable Mention

 Junk Journal | James Hyun Lee

2021 Prize Winners

First place: Sliding Down | Michael Rabow, MD

Second place: Silver | Hannah Joyner

Third place: Of Seeds | Rachael Peckham, PhD

Honorable Mention

How to Deal with Charon | Brian Smith, Medical Student

2019 Prize Winners

2016 Prize Winners

1st Place: Perestroika by Petr Vitkovskiy

2nd Place: Parlor Talk by Catherine Wong

3rd place: Mercy by Erik Norbie

Submissions Open: November 8, 2023 - January 10, 2024

Medicine & the Muse is pleased to announce an open call for unpublished short stories, essays or poetry addressing patients and providers facing chronic or life limiting illness.

New this year! Entries will be evaluated within their own genre: poetry, fiction and non-fiction. 

Contest Guidelines
Short Stories/Essays/Fiction/Non-fiction: Less than 2500 words
Poetry: Less than 50 lines

Dual submissions permitted, if they are in different genres. No more than two submissions. Simultaneous submissions permitted, but please withdraw your piece if it gets published elsewhere. Collections of poems are permitted, but please adhere to the line limit. The submission fee is $35 per entry. There is no charge for students, residents and fellows.



Submission Deadline January 10, 2024
Winners announced March 29, 2024 (updated)

Judges have Included Drs. Lucy Kalanithi and Daniel Mason, Stanford physician writers, Dr. Jay Baruch, Brown University Alpert School of Medicine physician writer, Dr. Irène Mathieu, Assistant Director, Program in Health Humanities, University of Virginia, Grace Li, MD candidate and author, and Executive Director of Stanford Medical Humanities & Arts program, Jacqueline Genovese

Total of 3 winners, one from each genre will be awarded a cash prize of $300. 

Honorarium made possible by the generosity of a Stanford Palliative Care benefactor.

Winners will be published in Anastomosis, Stanford University School of Medicine’s humanities and literary journal. 

Open to all. Please share widely.