In 2022, Op-Med published nearly 400 essays from Doximity members, who shared the good, the bad, the sad, the funny, and everything else that comes with working in medicine. It is from this group of writers we bring you this year's winners of the Op-Med Awards. You can see last year's winners here.
The Op-Med Awards highlight exceptional publications in six categories as voted on by the editorial staff: Community Favorite (the piece driving the most community discussion); Foreground Award (the best discussion of a new or existing problem in health care); Pathos Award (the most moving piece); Rising Star (the most promising voice among first-time contributors in 2022); Best Medical Humanities (the best creative work); Editor’s Pick (our top choice overall).
We hope you enjoy this year’s winners.
'Fee-for-Service on Steroids': How Corporations Are Taking over Medicine by Steven K Dankle, MD
The allure of higher or more stable income has contributed to the steep, sweeping rise of corporate medicine. Under this profit-first model, what is to become of the principles of professional work ethic and autonomy?
In the most widely discussed Op-Med in 2022, Dr. Dankle discusses the impact the shift toward corporate medicine has had on his work as a physician and on the medical community at large.
Runner-up: What a Doctor Looks Like by Heather Kristin Schopper, MD
When a Surgeon's Finger Goes Numb by Bhagwan Satiani, MD
What began as a slight burning sensation at the back of a surgeon’s neck ended up completely shifting the trajectory of his career. Dr. Satiani describes this alarming sequence of events and provides insight into how clinicians can best prepare themselves for changes to their physical health. A critical, albeit rarely discussed, step in the process is opting for long-term disability insurance.
Runner-up: Bad Reviews Are Not All Bad by Amy Elizabeth Vertrees, MD
How to Tell a Mother Her Baby Is Dead by Kathleen Ackert, DO
Have you ever had to deliver bad news to a patient? Imagine telling a mother that their child — still in their womb — no longer has a heartbeat. Dr. Ackert, an ob/gyn resident physician, beautifully captures the essence of the tragic loss of an unborn child in her essay. From the mother “visibly vibrating with fear and grief,” to the clinician grappling with their own emotions, this essay poignantly expresses both sides of this heartbreak.
Runner-up: Dissection: A Complicated Rite of Passage by Samuel Cohen-Tanugi, MD
Vishnupriya Samarendra, MD for Coping with Moral Injury in Medical Practice
In her first contribution to Op-Med, Dr. Samarendra, a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow, addresses an under-discussed problem in medicine: the pain, rendered here as “moral injury,” one experiences when one is unable to do what is best for a patient. In this delicate and nuanced piece about a child experiencing maternal mistreatment, Dr. Samarendra extends empathy both to struggling patients and to the clinicians working with them — all with a surfeit of candor, grace, and lyricism. Come for the humane approach, stay for the poetry inherent to lines like “betrayed [my] spirit” and “Recognizing oneself as capable of being hurt … may feel like a dangerous thing.” Dr. Samarendra is certainly a star on the rise.
Runner-up: Sarah Humphreys, MD for Solving Burnout Takes More Than Just Wellness
Best Medical Humanities
The Body Is a World Unto Itself by Shannon Pan, Medical Student
Medical Humanities is a section of Op-Med where Doximity members are encouraged to let their creativity roam throughout the hospital (or clinic, or wherever they practice medicine). We review paintings, sculptures, poetry, and more works of art. In our favorite Medical Humanities submission this year, a medical student shares (as well as reads in an accompanying audio file) a poem in which the human body is like an ecosystem comparable to the natural world: a garden, the ocean, and outer space. “A distant galaxy of microtubules stain bright green,” writes Pan, “not static but constantly teeming with movement like constellations twinkling brightly in the sky.”
Runner-up: Precious Metals by Maya Sorini, Medical Student
In Defense of Being a Doctor by Colleen McDermott, MD
It’s been a hard handful of years in medicine. With pandemics, lack of staff and support, the burden of administrative work, and more, it’s a difficult time to be a doctor. Dr. McDermott, a general surgery resident, shares that at one point in her educational journey, she thought she would never get the opportunity to practice medicine. Through the “high highs and low lows,” Dr. McDermott makes the case for why, despite it all, it’s great to be a doctor. Our Editorial staff was moved by the sentiment, and hopes you will be, too.
Do you want the chance to see your name on this list? Submit to Op-Med by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration by April Brust