2022 FPM-Hippocrates Prize Health Professional Shortlist


Questions that will never be answered
Carole Bromley   York, England

Nicola Carter   Liverpool, 

Aunty Mary's Memory Assessment - Woking Community Hospital
Susan Thomas   Dorking, England

Anatomy Lab
Wendy Tong   New York, New York, USA 

Biographies and inspiration for the poems

Carol Bromley MJO22944 hi

Carole Bromley lives in York where she is the Poetry Society’s Stanza rep and runs poetry surgeries. She has been shortlisted and commended in the Hippocrates Prize in previous years and is delighted to be on the shortlist again. Carole has won a number of prizes including the Bridport and the Hamish Canham Award. She writes for children as well as adults. Her most recent publications are The Peregrine Falcons of York Minster (Valley Press, 2020) and a pamphlet about pituitary surgery, Sodium 136 (Calder Valley Poetry 2019).

My poem, Questions that will never be answered, came out of a poetry exercise on a course with Jonathan Edwards. It is about my own experience of temporarily losing various senses following pituitary surgery in 2018. This was disorienting and alarming though dealt with calmly and reassuringly by the excellent medical staff at Hull Royal Infirmary. Hearing was the most upsetting loss though, like my sense of smell and taste, it did eventually return.

Nicola carter photo for poetry prize

Dr Nicola Carter said: "I have worked as an NHS doctor in Liverpool since 1984 and retired last year. After a few years in hospital medicine, I trained as a GP and Sexual Health doctor and then also trained as a Specialist in Psychosexual Medicine. Throughout my career, it has been the discussions with patients that have been the most challenging and rewarding and which have also been the inspiration for my writing.

I have no training or qualification in creative writing beyond “O” level English in 1972 but have realised that for many years it has been important to me. Eventually during lockdown, I tried to take the next steps. I started typing work so that others could potentially read it and joined Poetrywire, a zoom workshop run by Shropshire poet Jean Atkin. 

About here poem she said: "It was during the course this year that I wrote Diagnosis, a poem inspired by the many consultations during which I have delivered difficult news. The emotions in the room are so palpable that they are indeed physical and fluid, and the words almost always need to be repeated, as suggested by the final line of the poem.

Sue Thomas

Susan Thomas lives in Westhumble, Surrey England.  She is a Senior Staff Nurse in Palliative Care and works at The Princess Alice Hospice.  She won the Elmbridge Prize and was commended for the 2021 FPM-Hippocrates Prize.  She is a member of Mole Valley Poets and recently organized a poetry walk where she and fellow poets read en plein air to a dead tree in a field and scared passers-by.

About the inspiration for Aunty Mary’s Memory Assessment – Woking Community Hospital, she said: “Apart from my dear Aunty Mary the inspiration for this poem was memory - it was both a memory assessment and my own memory of that afternoon which happened some years ago.  Memory within a memory. I wanted to convey the small stuffiness of the clinic, the simple routine questions posed against the intense pressure the patient felt. The awareness of everybody in the room that the patient’s memory was slipping away and my own guilt at exposing her to their judgement. Perhaps the contrast between the confidence felt by the professionals in their natural environment compared to the patient’s discomfort, and resourcefulness to ‘cover-up’.  Also I wanted to convey the humour that can come from patients with dementia, but actually the sadness that lies beneath.  Overall I wanted to show her strength of mind, not her frailty and the love which she left with me.”   

Wendy Tong photo

Wendy Tong (she/hers) is a fourth-year medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in NYC. She will be starting her Internal Medicine residency training at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University. Her short stories and poems have been published by Intima, The Examined Life Journal, and JAMA Oncology. She hopes to continue writing throughout her training and beyond.

About the inspiration for her poem the
Anatomy Lab she said: "As a soon-to-be-graduating medical student, I’ve been thinking a lot about how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. This poem took shape as I recalled the mix of emotions I felt during first-year anatomy lab: of awe and disquiet, of gratitude and guilt. Of wonder. Imagining a life once lived, and noting the rhythm of how we live, learn, and pass on. I also enjoyed experimenting with form, as in the ten stanzas of four lines each, to mirror ten quarters around ten donors." 

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