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Release: Feb. 5, 2001

UI medical student earns honorable mention in essay contest

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Karl Kirby, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Iowa, received an honorable mention award for his entry in the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Essay Contest. Kirby's essay, "To Heal," was among 157 entries and was published on the Gold Foundation Web site Jan. 19.

In his essay, Kirby compared two different experiences he had with patients in the United States and Africa.

"I chose these two experiences because they were my best learning experiences as a medical student," Kirby said. "They caused me to think about what I was doing as a student and why I was becoming a doctor."

Kirby's essay described his involvement with a premature infant in Malawi, Africa as well as his encounter with an American woman dying of cancer. Kirby traveled to Africa after receiving a Barry Freeman Memorial Fellowship from the UI College of Medicine last year, which gives UI medical students the opportunity to learn about health care in other countries.

"These two experiences went together because they were at different ends of the medical spectrum," he said. "By comparing the two, I realized the broad ways to help people. One was an acute emergency, while the other was chronic, long-term care."

Kirby entered last year's contest and received first place.

"This contest has encouraged me to sit down and examine my experiences," Kirby said. "I think it is good the Gold Foundation has this contest, so people can stop and think about why they are in medicine. I plan to continue to write about my experiences."

After graduating from the UI College of Medicine this May, Kirby plans to go into family practice. He is also interested in international health issues, as well as health care for the underserved.

Kirby's essay can be found by conducting a search on the Gold Foundation's Web page, http://www.humanism-in-medicine.org.