Department of Surgery

DeBakey Poetry Contest


2021 Awards Recipients

  • First place cash prize of $1,000. “October,” by Vivian Hua, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Second place cash prize of $500: “Fasciculation,”  by Samuel Belfer,  Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Third place cash prize of $250: “Welcome,” by Kristin Geczi, University of Michigan Medical School

Entry Rules and Guidelines


Entrant must be a medical student currently pursuing a medical doctor (M.D.) degree in an accredited United States medical school.

Poems must be written in English (no translations from other languages), on a medical topic, no more than 50 lines, and original.

Your entry cannot have been previously published (in print or online including social media and blogs and videos) and/or sold to the public or transferred to another entity for sale to the public, cannot be under consideration for publication, and cannot have been awarded recognition in another writing contest. (Additionally, posting or publication of your entry in any form [in print or online including social media and blogs and videos] prior to the announcement of the contest winners will result in immediate disqualification.)

Each medical student may submit only one poem. Your submission must be mailed and emailed with the following components:

  • One cover page that includes your name, current mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number.
  • One photocopy of a current student I.D. card documenting medical school enrollment. (If a medical school student ID is not available, either a letter of good standing from the medical school, a current class or clinical rotation schedule dated within the current school year or a tuition bill or statement dated within the current school year is acceptable).
  • Four hard (print) copies on 8.5 x 11 inch bond paper. Do not staple any of the pages.
  • Font size must be at least 10 points.
  • Limited to two 8.5 x 11 inch pages and the aforementioned 50 lines.
  • Single space within each stanza, with a line between stanzas. For poems with nontraditional spacing, submit a PDF along with the Word document in your email.
  • Put your name in the upper right header of all pages (last name followed by first name, separated by a comma). If two pages in length, please add page numbers after your name.
  • In addition, please email your cover sheet, student I.D. card photocopy and electronic version of your poem (in Microsoft Word format) to Christine Cummings at

Entries must be postmarked no later than Jan. 31. We will not be able to confirm receipt of your submission. If you wish to confirm that your submission has been delivered, please send it by Certified Mail. Winners will be announced in online.

The first-prize poem will become the property of the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards program and will be submitted to a major medical periodical for consideration for publication. If it is accepted for publication, the publisher will own copyright.

Recognition and cash awards of the following amounts will be awarded to the three poems receiving the highest scores from the panel of judges:

  • $1,000 for first prize
  • $500 for second prize
  • $250 for third prize

Envelopes for submissions should be marked “For the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards Program” and sent to:

Neal R. Barshes, M.D., M.P.H.
Chairman, Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards
Associate Professor of Surgery
Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery
Baylor College of Medicine
MS: BCM390
One Baylor Plaza
Houston, TX 77030

View all DeBakey Poetry Contest Winners.