The BSANZ Medical Student Reflective Essay Competition

The Board of the Balint Society of Australia and New Zealand (BSANZ)  invites medical students in Australia and New Zealand to submit an essay to the BSANZ Essay Competition, which is held every two years. The next competition will be held in 2019.

The judges are delighted and moved by the standard of entries received in the 2017 competition. The prizewinners have been announced and the prizewinning essays are published on this website, see link.

General information:

Reflective essays submitted should describe a student-patient relationship, an experience, or experiences, from within the student’s medical studies and include critical reflection on personal meetings with patients. Material already used for course work can be re-worked for submission, but previously published work for medical theses or diplomas should not be submitted. Each essay should include:

Description: A detailed presentation of a personal experience of a student-patient interaction or relationship.

Reflection: Review or reflection on how the student experienced this relationship, either individually or as part of the medical team. Analysis should include the student’s own perception of the situation, the challenges faced and how he or she responded.

Implications or ‘critical reflection’: Discussion about ways in which the student’s own approach might change in the future, and/or also possible ways in which medical training might enhance the capacity of students to engage thoughtfully and compassionately in patient care.

Submissions for 2019 are to be sent by email to:


  • The Lawrence Gilbert Memorial Prizes of A$500 is awarded to each of the two top essays.
  • If students are willing, the top essays will be submitted for publication to the relevant medical journals.
  • Winners or runners-up may be offered subsidised attendance at BSANZ annual workshops in Australia or NZ.

Helpful tips

  • A short and accurate title should be included that reflects the content of the essay.
  • Essays must be in English, between 1000 and 2000 words.
  • Essays should be submitted in 12-point font, 1.5 spacing, Word documents only, not PDF
  • Essays should focus on the student-patient relationship rather than on ethical analysis
  • For further information including the winning essays 2015 and 2017 see the links at the top right of the page.