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Beyond the ward: Final year medical student wins Balint Society Essay Prize

The Balint Society aims to help health and social care professionals to gain a better understanding of the emotional content of their relationships with patients or clients. Each year, the Balint Society accepts submissions for creative essays, which provides the opportunity for medical students to reflect on their encounters throughout their medical training.


Founded in 1969, the Balint Society is a collaborative medical organisation made up of clinicians and teachers with the aim of emphasising the emotional element of their work.

Each year, there is a Balint Society Essay Competition Prize that selects only two winners for their excellent writing submissions. This year, final year student studying Medicine MBBS, Vikram Kohli, received news of winning the prize.

His essay was titled ‘A reflective account: understanding the psychological challenges of medical practice’ and was focused on an encounter he had during a home visit with a general practitioner that was particularly challenging. The essay explored the difficulties during and after the interaction, the discussion that it sparked within the Balint group, what he learned about himself and what he will take forward after this experience. The essay was just under 3,000 words and was submitted at the end of April; here is a sentence taken from the submission:

In fact, lifelong learning, continuous development of our ability to interact with patients and a capability to acknowledge honestly our limitations are the very essence of the joy of studying and practising medicine.– Vikram Kohli, final year undergraduate medical student

Vikram was invited to attend the Balint Society Annual General Meeting on Zoom on Sunday 27 September to ‘receive’ his prize, an event which highlighted extracts from the chosen essays. The winning essays will be published in the next edition of the Balint Society Journal.

I felt greatly honoured and deeply humbled. When submitting the essay, I genuinely had no idea that I would win the joint prize but it was worth a try! When I received the email telling me I had won, I was so grateful.– Vikram Kohli, final year undergraduate medical student

Speaking about the Zoom event, Vikram says it was a really wonderful experience with some familiar faces.

Dr Raluca Soreanu, Editor of the Balint Society Journal was there and said some very kind words about the essay and its pure honesty. It was so humbling to hear this.– Vikram Kohli, final year undergraduate medical student

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