2018 FPM Hippocrates Health Professional Prize: winning and commended entries


Inez Garzaniti  Pontiac, Michigan, USA - Cranial Nerve Shadowbox


Stephen Harvey  Nashville, Tennessee, USA - The Thirteenth Floor


Maria Ji Onehunga, New Zealand - Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Patient

Emma Storr  Leeds, West Yorkshire, England - Six Week Check



Elizabeth Birchall   Chipping Norton, Oxon, England - Heartburn

Richard Brostoff  Belmont, MA, USA - The Patience Of Snow

Richard Morley Carpenter  York, North Yorkshire, UK - A Curator's Eye

Iora Dawes Stafford, Staffordshire, England - What Stays

Andrew Dimitri  St Pauls, New South Wales, Australia - Journey to the hospital

Neil Alexander Douglas  London, England - He told me

Joseph Gascho  Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, USA Old Man with a Hemorrhagic Stroke

Stephen Harvey  Nashville, Tennessee, USA - Last Rites in the Trauma Tower

Beda Higgins  Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, England – My Dad was a Doctor

Karen E Hill  Bury, Lancashire, England - The Sanatorium

Sara Eira Margareta Johansson  Goteborg, Sweden - Expert Advice on Psychotraumatology

Melinda Kallasmae  Strathdale, Victoria, Australia - Alert, sometimes alarmed

Christopher Magoon Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - A culture critic

David Camillus McCrory  Belfast, County Antrim, N Ireland – Anglo-Irish Pathology, May 1981

Hessom Razavi  Perth, Western Australia  - There are cave dwellers here

Tamar Rubin  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - Auntie Elinor

Joyce Schmid  Palo Alto, California, USA - Don't Tell My Doctor

Joyce Schmid  Palo Alto, California, USA - Inside the MRI

Penny Shutt  Par, Cornwall, England - Ana

Penny Shutt  Par, Cornwall, England - Auditory Hallucinations

Tricia Torrington  Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England - Livedo Reticularis

Louise Warren  London, England - The First Woman on the Moon


Biographies of the poets

Elizabeth Birchall, somewhat younger.

Elizabeth Birchall spent most of her career in social work and finally in social policy research at Stirling University, Scotland. Her private life had its ups and downs, one of the latter triggering this poem ‘Heartburn’. She lives out a contented retirement in a Cotswold village, enjoying the company of friends, the cultural riches that Oxford offers, and the time to write. One collection of her poems, The Forest that Sailed Away, celebrates the local and historic Wychwood hunting forest. Many other poems have appeared in poetry magazines and various anthologies. She is currently seeking publication of her memoirs, Pinnacles and Pratfalls.

Richard Brostoff

Richard Brostoff is a physician with a private practice in Lexington Massachusetts, USA. His poems and essays have appeared in Rattle, Texas Review, Atlanta Review, Southeast Review, Magma, Verse Daily, and many other journals. His chapbook, “Momentum,” was published by La Vita Poetica (2007). A second chapbook, “A Few Forms Of Love” was published by Finishing Line Press (2012). He can be reached at RBrostoff@gmail.com

He said: “My father, the figure in The Patience Of Snow, was a prominent cardiologist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was diagnosed with dementia ten years before his death this past January. Over the past years I watched the bright landscape of his mind succumb to a lasting silence, just as the poem does, and all poems finally do.“

richard Carpenter

Richard Carpenter trained at University College Hospital, London and then to become a General Practitioner on the GP training scheme in Wiltshire based at Bath, with his various jobs in Swindon. His first partnership was in Tamworth, Staffordshire where he lived for thirteen years until his wife was appointed to a post in York in 1990. They moved with their four children and He was fortunate to gain another partnership in York until his retirement from medical practice in 2008, a couple of months after his sixtieth birthday. He then started to write and was introduced to poetry writing by Carole Bromley. Many of my colleagues have been helpful over these few years with encouragement and constructive criticism. I am a relative newcomer to the world of poetry but am already in awe of the power that can be released when the words fall into the right order or form. Just once or twice I have felt the elation when a poem takes over and appears to write itself. A Curator’s Eye was not one of these having a gestation of sweat and toil. So perhaps both work.

He said: My poem - A Curator’s Eye - was written in response to a challenging exhibition in York Art Gallery in the spring of 2017. The exhibition was called ‘Flesh’ and my immediate reaction was of revulsion to some of the exhibits and to question whether they had any artistic worth. I was tempted to turn away and find something else to occupy me. But I, and several of my colleagues, had been set the task to write about the exhibits and the exhibition in general. I wrote several simpler poems about individual exhibits, but found, when I tried to write at greater length about my reaction to the whole exhibition, that I was repeatedly ‘up a blind alley’ until I thought I might write my poem as a conversation between myself and the curator’s art. The exhibition had been very well curated and when I asked my stark questions of it, some of the answers came.

Iora Dawes

 After qualification, Iora Dawes worked as a Medical Social Worker for several years in Salisbury and Mansfield hospitals. Later, she lectured in Health and Social Care at Stafford Further Education College. She was commended in the Hippocrates NHS awards in 2013 and 2016 and won 3rd prize in the FPM Hippocrates Health Professional awards in 2017.

About the Inspiration for her poem What Stays she said: "Some milestones stay in the memory as though they happened yesterday. A recent birth in the family led to my trying to express the emotions I felt on first seeing our son in the Special Care Baby Unit.”

Andi head shot

Andrew Dimitri is a poet and physician based in Sydney, Australia. Since 2010 he has been working for Medecins Sans Fontieres/Doctors Without Borders in some of the most complex and challenging regions of the world. In 2017 he was the runner up in the Health Professional Category of the Hippocrates Prize.

About the inspiration for Journey to the hospital he said: ”Whilst working in a clinic in the sprawling Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh near the border with Myanmar, a woman brought in her tiny child, hardly breathing. I quickly swept them up and rushed them to the nearby hospital. 


Inez Garzaniti is a second-year medical student at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester Hills, Michigan. She is interested in psychiatry, bioethics, philosophy, and social justice. Her most recent work uses poetry to humanize what she’s been tasked to dissect and memorize.

About the inspiration for Cranial Nerve Shadowbox she said: ”This poem uses vignettes to symbolize the functions and dysfunctions of cranial nerves.” 

Gascho with patient portraits bw

Joseph Gascho is a cardiologist at Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, PA. He holds joint appointments there, as Professor of Medicine and Humanities. He has recently published a book of his poetry, Cornfields, Cottonwoods, Seagulls and Sermons. Growing Up in Nebraska. In addition to poetry, he is a photographer. He has several permanent displays of patients, physicians, and health care workers at The Penn State College of Medicine hospital. Much of his work involves the linking of poem with image.  He has won prizes from Annals of Internal Medicine for both his poetry and his photography, and he has had previous poems commended by The Hippocrates Society for  Poetry and Medicine

In regards to his poem, Old Man with a Hemorrhagic Stroke, he notes that he is struck with the difficulty of decision making as a physician, by situations in which the physician can be “damned if he/she does, damned if he/she doesn’t”, with how recommendations are communicated to patients, and with patients' attitudes towards physicians and the patients’ reliance on the recommendations of physicians even when they are not in agreement with those recommendations.

Harvey Stephen 2 %281%29 (1)

Photo of Dr. Stephen Harvey - Vanderbilt University & Medical Center / Steve Green

Stephen Harvey has been published in Rattle, Measure, and Southwest Review as winner of the 2017 Morton Marr Poetry Prize.  He is the editor of Mind to Mind, a creative writing section in Anesthesiology. He serves as Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and MCE Medical Director at Vanderbilt University. He holds an MFA from Murray State University.

About The Thirteenth Floor he said: ”I was inspired to write The Thirteenth Floor from personal experiences as an anesthesiology resident at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital in NYC. Roosevelt Hospital actually doesn't have a thirteenth floor or thirteenth OR, which strikes me as an curious inconsistency for the scientific, religious, and secular communities there. Stranger still, nobody seems to notice.”

About Last Rites in the Trauma Tower he said: “I wrote this sonnet after caring for a victim of a church shooting in Nashville. Just a few months later, I cared for a victim of a school shooting in Kentucky. I share their faith in a better world to come, but sometimes I lose sight of it in the tragedy.“ 

Beda Higgins

Beda Higgins has two collections of short stories published; CHAMELEON and LITTLE CRACKERS, including a first prize winning Mslexia short story. She has poetry and prose published in various anthologies and collections. She is a psychiatric and general nurse working part-time in General Practice.

About the inspiration for her poem My Dad was a Doctor she said: “My father was a tall, wide, Irishman, a family doctor and the Patriarch of a big happy family. I did not appreciate, or perhaps denied, his quick demise towards death. This poem was inspired by my first hospital visit. He was profoundly depressed. I was shocked and shaken by his brokenness. I wish I’d told him I loved him.


Karen Hill lives in Lancashire, England, and works as an administrator in general practice within the NHS.She enjoys writing poetry and short stories, some of which have been published, and in 2015 was runner-up in the prestigious Keats-Shelley Prize.

She said that The Sanatorium is about her maternal grandfather, who was gassed on the Somme during the First World War and went on to develop TB.  He died in a hospice in the Midlands before she was born. The poem was inspired by stories told by her mother, about how the whole family would go to visit him during the winter before he died.

Maria Photo-1

Maria Yeonhee Ji is a writer and fifth year medical student at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her poetry and prose have appeared in various publications including New Zealand Poetry Society anthologies, Potroast, Signals, and Starling. In 2017 she was the recipient of The Chris Cole Catley Award for Poetry.

She said:  “As medical students we’re taught how to see patients through the medical lens. Lecturers and  clinicians teach numerous frameworks for approaching clinical situations. However, in this important and time-consuming process of learning to see from the perspective of doctor, it can be easy to forget more holistic ways of seeing people. In Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Patient, I wanted to capture some of the unique ways medical students see patients and explore some of the complicated feelings I’ve had about their care. They’re feelings that I’ve never been able to articulate in the professional environment, perhaps because they are so very coloured by my own uncertainty and vulnerabilities. This is why the structure of Wallace Stevens’ work felt so right to help my poem hold these emotions and their nuances.“

Sara Johansson

Photo of Sara Johansson: Mia Carlsson, Natur & Kultur

Sara E M Johansson, M.Sc. Psychology and writer, is a delegate and former technical advisor at the Swedish and International Red Cross. She specializes in support to families of critically ill children and in immediate interventions following large scale calamities such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks and severe epidemic outbreaks. Sara has extensive field experience and has e.g. worked in field hospitals in Southern Pakistan where an area about the size of England was inundated by flash floods; in Thailand after the tsunami disaster 2004, in Syria and in Norway following the terror attacks. Sara is a full time educator who teaches and supervises thousands of doctors, midwifes and nurses every year. She writes poetry late at night together with the stars and her cat, a tabby British shorthair.

About what inspired her poem Expert Advice on Psychotraumatology she says: “The very essence of human existence was the inspiration for this poem. Both the mother and her child were in severe distress. Hospital rules said the mother could not hold her child -- but without words, I managed to show the importance of reuniting them. In the most difficult and complex situations, layers peel off, and if we observe closely, the fundamentals of life appear. The most immediate need after any exposure to severe stress, is to be reunited with people you love. I wanted to capture the ache, the immediate relief, the obvious that isn´t seen. I am enchanted by how poetry may manifest the essence of our existence in a way that facts alone can´t -- a tone that goes through all living things.

Melinda Kallasmae

Melinda Kallasmae (Barclay) lives in central Victoria, Australia. Her writing has been published in Australia, England, and New Zealand – in anthologies and literary journals which include Cordite Poetry Review; Best Australian Poems 2014The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry; and The Emma Press Anthologies of Motherhood, Dance and Age.

About the inspiration for her poem she said: “Postgraduate nursing study introduced me to the idea of reflective practice. I became interested in poetry as a medium through which clinicians may explore clinical experience, express feelings, and tell stories. My poem, Alert, sometimes alarmed, was inspired by my perianaesthetic nursing experience, childhood memories, and concern about environmental change”.

Christopher Magoon

Originally from Canton, Ohio, Christopher Magoon is a 4th year medical student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is currently on a research year studying public health and Mandarin in China.  After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in psychiatry.  He welcomes your contact at www.christophermagoon.com or on Twitter at @cpdmagoon. 

He said that he wrote A culture critic when listening to a favorite podcast of his--Slate's 'Culture Gabfest'--on his way to his Medicine rotation.  One of the podcast hosts, Stephen Metcalf, described an artist using clinical in a way very different from his clinical surroundings. 

David McCrory

David McCrory: "I am a 58 year old consultant colorectal surgeon currently working in Antrim Area Hospital. This is my third commendation in the Hippocrates Poetry Prize. Hopefully next year will be the big one."

About the inspiration for the poem Anglo-Irish Pathology, May 1981 he said: "I was a 22 year-old third year medical student in Belfast in 1981 at the height of the hunger strikes. The poem was inspired by events at a pathology exam viva. I was shocked that anyone could make light of such tragic events by asking such a facetious question with a smiling face. I think it typifies the gulf in perception of such suffering from an Irish and English perspective. These events have stuck with me ever since."

Joyce Schmid

Joyce Schmid’s poems have appeared in Missouri Review, Poetry Daily, New Ohio Review, Sugar House Review, and other journals and anthologies. Her poem, “Pigmented Nevus” was commended in the 2017 Hippocrates Prize Competition. She is a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley, California, where she lives with her husband of over half a century.

She said: “The poem Don’t Tell My Doctor was inspired by Iain McDougall MD, PhD, of Stanford Medical Center, the brilliant, caring, and courtly doctor who treated me for thyroid cancer. After treatment, I asked him what the chances were for recurrence of the cancer. Twenty-five years later, I don’t remember what he said, but I do remember his injured expression at being asked such a thing. His manner reminded me of stories I had heard about my grandfather who had died before I was born, a  physician who had emigrated from Ukraine and practiced in the Bronx during the Depression, taking care of people he knew well, and for whom he cared deeply.

About the inspiration for Inside the MRI she said: “I wouldn’t be able to lie in a closed MRI without medication, but with a sedative-hypnotic, I become interested in the percussive rhythms of the machine. I lie there thinking, imagine that— I’m closed up in this tube and can actually tolerate the experience.  But, of course,  I am always impatient for the “concert” to be over, for the technicians to slide me out of the machine like a loaf of bread out of an oven, and let me go.“

Penny Shutt

Penny Shutt is a poet and psychiatrist working in Cornwall who writes in secret on her NHS laptop between patients and runs therapeutic writing workshops in her spare time. She moved from the North of Scotland to Cornwall in 2013 to complete her MA in Professional Writing at Falmouth University before returning to complete her psychiatry training. She is currently locuming having put her plans to specialise in CAMHS on hold after becoming a foster mum to her 18 month old nephew and a full time stepmum to her teenage stepdaughter in the same year. Her poetry has been widely published and she was winner of first and second prizes in the Psychiatric Research Trust poetry competition in 2013. Her recent collection Special Guardian about the complexities of becoming the guardian to her brother’s child has been shortlisted in several pamphlet competitions and her collection of medical and psychiatry-inspired poetry White Coat Syndrome was shortlisted in the Geoffrey Stevens Memorial Prize this year. Ana was written in an attempt to come to terms with the many reasons we have to hold onto behaviours that harm us. 

She sais: .“Auditory Hallucinations was a response to a short silent film that she was shown by an artist from Falmouth conveying the lived experience of psychosis and her attempts to find meaning within psychotic symptoms despite the theories she’s been taught about dopamine pathways and the inappropriate attachment of salience.“

Emma Storr

Emma Storr recently stopped work as a GP and as an academic in medical education. She has had an interest in medical humanities for many years and still teaches in this area at the University of Leeds. 

She said: “The poem Six Week Check was inspired by the memory of doing one of my favourite examinations.  I always felt circling the word ‘normal’ failed to convey the amazing complexity of the new life I held briefly in my hands. I hope the poem shows the wonder and privilege I experienced while carrying out this everyday routine procedure.“

Tricia Torrington

Tricia Torrington has had on collection of poetry published by Flarestack, reprinted in 2015. She is a print maker, and also produces artist’s books which generally contain poetry. he teaches printmaking, book making and creative writing (poetry).

About Livedo Reticularis she said: “I was diagnosed with Lupus and anti-phopholipid Syndrome in 1998. Livedo is one of the symptoms of APS. I have been writing a sequence where (usually) concrete nouns =become the voice of the poem. I had been trying to write about this for some time, unsuccessfully, and then decided to personify it. It has given me a way in to strengthen the writing and make it count emotionally.”

Louise Warren copy

Louise Warren is an Employment Advisor for the Camden and Islington NHS Trust, supporting people with mental health difficulties into work.  Her first collection ‘A child’s last picture book of the Zoo’ won the Cinnamon Press Debut Poetry Prize and was published in 2012. A pamphlet ‘In the scullery with John Keats’ also published by Cinnamon came out in 2016. Louise has been widely published in magazines, and in 2018 won first prize in the Prole Laureate Poetry Competition.

She said: The first woman on the Moon came straight out of my experience of having major surgery in June 2017.  That first week in hospital was strange and profound.  From entering the operating theatre to recovering on the ward, I felt at my most vulnerable, yet found courage in the smallest of things. I was intensely aware of my interior life, and the world seemed a lifetime away. It really was like leaving earth and stepping foot on another planet. I want to thank Mr Okram and his team, also the nurses and auxiliary staff at UCH, Westmoreland St, London, who supported me on my journey.

 © Hippocrates initiative 2012: hippocrates.poetry@gmail.com