AAP Essay Contest

We invite all PM&R residents, fellows and medical students to participate in our 2020 essay contest, brought to you by the AAP's Resident/ Fellow Council. The overarching goal and theme is: “A Path to Progress: Translating Clinical Insights into Holistic Change.”

In-training physiatrists have been uniquely impacted by and played a role in crises we have faced. They are also the future - and they have the power to change it. We are shining a national spotlight on their unique perspectives and solutions with our essay contest. Choose from one of three essays below to share your experiences and solutions that may inspire positive change to our healthcare systems, academic institutions, and, ultimately, society.

Winning essays (determined by a review committee) will receive the following prizes. First place essays will be published in Physiatry Forward (the AAP’s member magazine), second and third place essays will be published in Physiatry in Motion (the Resident/ Fellow Council’s publication), and others will be published in the Asynchronous Journal Physiatry.


1st place essay for residents/fellows $500
1st place essay for medical students $500

2nd place essay for residents/fellows $250
2nd place essay for medical students $250

3rd place essay for residents/fellows $100
3rd place essay for medical students $100

Essay Topics

Choose one of the following Essay Topics for your narrative. Essays should not exceed 750 words in length (including the title) and it must be original work that has not been previously published. To enter the contest, email your completed essay (in Microsoft Word format) to jdilworth@physiatry.org by Friday, August 14, 2020.

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on healthcare systems domestically and internationally. The impact on medical education has also been significant as institutions have sought to balance safety and training for medical students, residents and fellows. Describe a unique experience in your medical education or training that has occurred as a result of COVID-19, what it has taught you, and how these insights can be applied broadly to the field of medicine as a whole.

  2. Systemic racism has been brought to the forefront of issues in American society. With the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others before them, national attention has been drawn once again to racial inequalities that have been perpetuated in this country. Racism has been now widely declared as a public health crisis. As this country's future healthcare leaders, current medical students, residents, and fellows will play a central role in efforts to dismantle structural racism--both at an individual and an institutional level. In your medical education or training, describe a situation or experience in which you responded to or dealt with observed racial disparity, and how confronting this situation can be applied broadly in our healthcare system in addressing systemic racism.

  3. Physiatrists utilize a multidisciplinary approach in treating patients suffering from a variety of neurological and musculoskeletal disorders. Physiatrists understand that focusing on patients’ medical, emotional and social needs is paramount to improving their function, independence and quality of life. Describe an instance in which you or a physiatrist you witnessed advocated for the holistic care of a patient, taking into consideration environmental or community needs beyond the medical aspect of recovery. Illustrate what you learned from this experience, and how it can be applied broadly to healthcare.

Eligibility & Other Terms

Eligibility: All entrants must be active AAP members. This contest is open to all U.S. or international medical students, residents or fellows. Entries must not have been previously published or submitted to any or other publication.

Dates: The contest begins on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. All entries must be submitted no later than 11:59pm on Friday, August 14, 2020. Winners will be announced by Friday, September 4, 2020.

Contest Rules:

  • One submission per person
  • Essay must be in English
  • Essay must be an original work
  • Any patient information must be de-identified
  • Format: Times New Roman 12-point font, single-spaced
  • Essay should not exceed 750 words
  • Entries must be submitted as a Word document to jdilworth@physiatry.org
  • Entries which have not met the above guidelines will not be considered

By submitting an entry, you are agreeing to contest rules. Essays will be judged by a review committee based on content, style, organization, and originality. All decisions made by the judges regarding winners are final.

Other Terms & Conditions:
By submitting my piece I agree to the following AAP Essay Contest terms and conditions:

  • I am dedicated to protecting the privacy of patients and others. I have changed names as needed, and have changed or left out other features of people and other contexts within my essay.
  • I confirm that this essay meets the HIPAA and ethical requirements of my institution and have obtained the proper necessary permissions to submit this essay.
  • I give the AAP permission to publish my essay in Physiatry Forward, Physiatry in Motion and/or Asynchronous Journal of Physiatry publications.
  • I confirm that I am the only author of this essay and that it has not been published elsewhere.
  • The AAP reserves the right to disqualify any essay from this contest based on criteria as mentioned above.