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Creative writing with 55-word stories can encapsulate key experiences. It stimulates reflection and professional growth. Their brevity adds insight and impact.

Draft 1:

I have so many mixed feelings about everything going on in the world right now. There is so much disagreement on everything and to me it feels like we can never get everyone on the same page. Whether it be political things, health care, Roe v. Wade, world hunger, vaccines, violence, etc.. Being a first-year medical student, it can be easy to forget about everything going on in the world as you are so busy trying to study and stay afloat. I forget about everything going wrong for a while until I open a news article or Facebook and see another school shooting happening not too long from the last one that occurred. My hope in humanity had been continuing to decrease as I continued seeing all the bad news. As I continued forgetting away in my studies, I completely forgot that I needed to make an appointment for my dad to see his surgeon regarding a procedure he had awhile back on his arm -- I felt extremely guilty that I didn’t find time to make it for him. A week later, I had dinner with him and asked how his doctor’s appointment went (this was with his oncologist who knows nothing about his surgical procedure), he told me it went well and that the doctor went out of her way to ask about his arm and even asked to call and make his appointment for him. Him telling me this made me cry. It was so touching to me that his oncologist went out of her way to make his appointment for him when it had nothing to do with her care. Amid all this chaos, my dad, who does not speak English, received help. I thought to myself, maybe hope in humanity still exists.

First drafts have no length limit; editing distills key components and implicit ideas. The final version:

55 words:

Politics, healthcare, abortion, violence. The world will never be on the same page. My hope for humanity diminishes. One day, an oncologist made an appointment for my dad through his cellphone about his missed orthopedic appointment. My mind changed. She didn’t need to do that. I thought to myself, maybe hope in humanity still exists.


Verbalizing strong feelings was hard. I adore my parents, who left wartime Vietnam seeking a better life and future. I feel guilty about spending little time with them, and not always helping my non-English-speaking dad with appointments. We live in stressful, conflicting times. My story helped pinpoint the essence; cutting to 55 words was cathartic. Reflecting on the good instead of focusing on the negative is okay.


Poster presented at the Brain & Behavioral Health Research Day 2023



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