The Gerald F. Berlin Creative Writing Award

The Gerald F. Berlin Creative Writing Award at the University of Massachusetts Medical School honors the poetry, fiction and essays of medical students, physicians in training (interns, residents, fellows), graduate students, and nursing students from the medical school.  The award is meant to encourage creative writing by health professionals in training and to honor my father who struggled with a severe chronic illness.  The award is funded by a $1,000 donation from the proceeds of How JFK Killed My Father.

I believe that creative writing gives health professionals in training a special opportunity to reflect on their experiences, to maintain their humanity, and to heighten their empathy for the suffering of their patients. These are qualities that bring doctors closer to their patients, and I know these are the qualities my father always looked for and admired in his own physicians.

Original Introductory Speech

The award was first granted in 2005.  This is the speech I prepared for the award’s first presentation, which you can read here.


Submissions for the 2016 award are due on or before March 31, 2016.  Details and requirements for the award can be found in the award guidelines.


Judges for the award include David Hatem, M.D. Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Susan N. Tarrant, Director, Patient Care Services, UMass Memorial Medical Center, and myself.

Past Awards