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The Pam and Rolando Del Maestro Family William Osler Medical Student Essay Awards

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

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 McGill 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 $250 for third place, $500 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 are typically published on the library website, though we may agree to postpone this for winners who are preparing their essays for publication.

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. You are strongly encouraged to find a mentor to work with, though if necessary the committee will help find an appropriate one 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] (osler[dot]library[at]mcgill[dot]ca). Deadline: July 6, 2020.

2. With the help of your mentor, produce an essay of 3,000 words maximum in Word format (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] (osler[dot]library[at]mcgill[dot]ca). Deadline: October 8, 2020.

The three finalists will present their essays on Osler Day, November 4, 2020. The three prizes will be awarded on the basis of the quality of both the essay and the presentation.


Important note: Following discussions between the Medical Students Osler Society and the Osler Library, it has been concluded that the essay contest will go ahead in 2020 despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. The most significant change is that participants will have to work with resources that are available remotely; Osler Library resources will not be available for consultation on site during the research phase.

With remote access in mind, we have compiled a list of selected resources and suggestions as to the types of research they may support; please contact the Osler Library, as above, for access to the list.

Note: All participants in the contest are encouraged to submit their essays to the McGill Journal of Medicine for publication (see submission guidelines).

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