MD Program

Contact the Writing and Humanities Program

1193 MERF
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2600
Phone:(319) 335-8058
Fax: (319) 335-8643

  • Carol A. Bowman Creative Writing Contest

    Established by Richard Caplan, M.D.

    Sponsored by the UI Carver College of Medicine Program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities

    Co-sponsored by the UI Carver College of Medicine's Writing and Humanities Program

    2016 Winners

    Competition for the Bowman awards was stiff this year. It was difficult to decide on winners but ultimately, the pieces we selected stood out for their empathy, skill with language, and depth of thought. Congratulations to the winners.


    Also, it’s not every year that we have a student from the Carver College of Medicine graduate from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, but this year we have such an occasion upon us. Mgbechi Erondu will graduate this May with a Masters of Fine Art in Fiction. She came to CCOM 4 years ago already an accomplished writer. She has been published in The Examined Life Journal. She was also the first place winner of the Carol A. Bowman contest in 2012 and 2013. Acceptance to the Writers’ Workshop in itself is a huge achievement. To have done so while studying medicine is an achievement on another level altogether. This year we want to honor these achievements with a separate award that recognizes Mgbechi’s body work. She is truly an unique and talented student, a gifted writer, and an example of the the power of the creative spirit. 
    • Mgbechi Erondu, Inaugural recipient: Carver College of Medicine Writing and Humanities Program Outstanding Achievement Award in Creative Writing

    See Previous Years' entries and results.

    Contest Guidelines

    A Message from Dr. Richard Caplan, M.D.

    I established the Carol A. Bowman Creative Writing Contest after the death of Dr. Bowman, who had just received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in Medical Humanities, although for several years I had been sponsor of such an effort in cooperation with Vital Signs. The purpose was to encourage medical students to reflect on their new experiences in the world of medicine and to encourage the process and discipline of putting words on paper effectively, and to enjoy the satisfactions of creative effort.

    The Program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities in conjunction with the Writing and Humanities Program is pleased to announce this creative writing contest for medical students. Entries may be of any length or literary genre (fiction, essay, poetry, drama, memoir). The purpose of the contest is to stimulate student writing and thoughtful expression of the many and new experiences students encounter while in medical school.

    2016 Prizes

    • 1st: $200
    • 2nd: $125
    • 3rd: $75

    The winning submissions will be published with author approval to be distributed (gratis) online and in The Examined Life Journal. Entries may be published with the author's permission on our website or in printed form.

    Copies of winning submissions from prior contests are available from the links above. Submissions may be made at any time before the submission deadline of 5:00 p.m. Monday, March 28, 2016. Only medical students of the UI Carver College of Medicine are eligible to enter this contest.

    Winners will be announced in April, 2016.

    Questions? Visit, email, or call Jason T. Lewis at 335-8051, 1193A MERF.

    About the Contest

    Carol Bowman received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in the Medical Humanities in May 1992. Soon after, she was found to have a malignancy from which she died in July 1993 after a valiant, difficult struggle. She had been a successful writer herself, a counselor regarding substance abuse, as well as an enthusiastic teacher of high school and medical students. This contest is meant as a memorial to her concern for the humane treatment of patients and students.

    Fill out my online form.