2022 Conley Ethics Essay Contest


Established by the John Conley Foundation for Ethics and Philosophy in Medicine, this annual essay contest has been administered by the AMA Journal of Ethics since 2004. 

Each spring, the AMA Journal of Ethics poses a question in ethics and professionalism as the topic for the contest. Essays are judged on clarity of writing, responsiveness to questions posed in the essay prompt, and applicability to decisions presented in the case. The author of the best essay receives a prize of $5,000. The author of the winning essay is typically contacted within six weeks of the submission deadline and must be willing, if needed, to revise the essays at the request of AMA Journal of Ethics editorial staff in order to have the work published in the journal.

Please visit here for more detailed information about contest rules.

Eligibility Requirements

Currently enrolled US medical (MD) students and osteopathic (DO) students, resident physicians, or fellows in ACGME-accredited or AOA-accredited programs are eligible to submit entries. Entries must not have been previously published in print or electronic format and must not have been submitted to any other publication.

Format Requirements

Essays must not exceed 1,500 words, excluding references. Essays must be submitted by a single author in Times New Roman 12 with 1.5 spacing.

Cover Page Requirements

The first page of the single Word document file must be the cover page, which must include the author’s name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, medical school (and year in medical school) or specialty training program (and year in training program), as well as the word count of the essay (excluding cover page and references), which must be tabulated as follows: In Word, highlight the essay text only, then on the Review tab in the Proofing group, click the Word Count icon or use Ctrl+Shift+G. This information must be included on the cover page only; essays including the author’s name on other pages of the essay will not be reviewed.

Submission Requirements

Essays must be submitted as one Word document file attached to an e-mail to Mr. Kelly Shaw. The Word document file name must be the author’s last name only. All materials must be received by 5 PM central time on 23 September 2022, as marked by email timestamp when received by the AMA. Authors who have waited even until 4:55 PM, for example, to submit materials have occasionally been disappointed, due to transmission delays, so please plan accordingly.


MG is a 50-year-old patient with coronary artery disease, advanced heart failure, tobacco use disorder, and persistent, unremitting schizophrenia who experienced several inpatient psychiatric stays over the last decade. Dr A is a psychiatrist who has become familiar with a pattern that has repeated during that time: (1) MG stops taking whatever antipsychotic medication MG is prescribed at the time, (2) MG loses ability to perform activities of daily living, (3) MG behaves erratically, and (4) MG is transported by law enforcement personnel to the organization’s emergency department or a regional jail. MG’s networks of resources and support erode during each cycle, making recovery diminishingly likely with each inpatient admission. Dr A wonders whether a palliative approach to MG is appropriate and what that would look like.

Essay Prompt

According to which health outcomes measures should palliative psychiatric prognosis, progress, and success be defined?


Trachsel M, Irwin SA, Biller-Andorno N, Hoff P, Riese F. Palliative psychiatry for severe persistent mental illness as a new approach to psychiatry? Definition, scope, benefits and risks. BMC Psychiatry. 2016;16:260.

Strand M, Sjöstrand M, Linblad A. A palliative care approach in psychiatry: clinical implications. BMC Med Ethics. 2020;21:29.