Pam and Rolando Del Maestro William Osler Medical Students Essay Awards

Osler Library Board of Curators' medalOsler Library Board of Curators' medal

2016 Osler Essay Contest Winners


1st place: Maria Barrette“Contrarian Contraception: Radical Feminism and The Birth Control Handbook in late 1960s Montréal" (Mentor: Professor George Weisz)

2nd place: Sunny Wei “Neonatal Anesthesia: The Origins of Controversy” (Mentor: Professor Thomas Schlich)

3rd place: Yi Tong - “The Antipsychiatry Movement of the 1960s and its Influence on the Mental Health Care Model in the United States” (Mentor: Professor David Wright)


Medical students at McGill are invited to explore the historical, social, ethical, and humanistic side of their field thanks to an essay contest established by the Medical Students’ Osler Society and the Board of Curators of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, and endowed through a generous gift by Pam and Rolando Del Maestro.

The essay contest gives undergraduate medical students the opportunity to explore any theme of interest to them in the history, social studies, sociology, ethics, and humanities of the health sciences. It also provides them with the chance to be mentored by an expert in their topic drawn from the Library’s Board of Curators or elsewhere to complete their project, and to use the rich resources of the Osler Library and other libraries at McGill.

"I have participated twice in the Osler Essay competition, which challenged me to use the resources of the Osler Library. It was the most rewarding academic experience I have had a McGill. I loved working with the excellent librarians to find relevant texts, sorting through rows of old books and picking out relevant titles, and thumbing my way though a good 23 books as well as many online resources. Nothing was more satisfying than the trek up the hill with the books I had used, returning them after weeks of scouring them for every drop of knowledge in them. Libraries are still magical places--and librarians are, more than ever, true wizards--as long as we learn to use them and are challenged to do so."


David Benrimoh, MDCM 2016

The Osler Society is responsible for promoting the contest and encouraging participation. Essays are written with the help of a mentor during the summer and submitted in October. Three finalists will be chosen and will present their essays on Osler Day. Prizes will be given of $500 for third place, $750 for second place, and $1,000 for the winning essay. The first-place winner will also receive the Osler Library Board of Curators' medal. The top essays will also be published on the library website.

The two step process is as follows: 

1. Submit a 1-page proposal stating the research topic and potential sources of information. Include your full name, department and year, and contact details. Proposals are reviewed by a committee. The committee will also assign a mentor to assist you in developing the essay. Before submitting a proposal, students can contact the Osler Library of the History of Medicine for research help. Submit your proposals to osler.library [at] Deadline: May 24, 2017; UPDATE: please note, we will be accepting late submissions until May 29!

2. With the help of your mentor, produce an essay of 3,000 words maximum (not counting notes, bibliography, appendices, tables) on the approved topic, using the resources of the Osler and other libraries. References should be formatted according to a recognized citation style. Also submit a 1- or 2-page reflective piece describing which library resources you came to know well due to your research, how your skills grew as a researcher, and how using library material helped you to increase the scope, depth, and significance of your subject. Send your essays to osler.library [at] Deadline: October 10, 2017.

The three finalists will present their essays on Osler Day, 2017.  The three prizes will be awarded on the basis of the quality of both the essay and the presentation.

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