Sign of the Times: Articles About Racism, Health Inequity and Mistrust in Science Win Best of 2021

The 12th annual John A. Benson Jr., MD Professionalism Article Prize winners announced by the ABIM Foundation.

PHILADELPHIA, March 23, 2022 – Being black in medicine; depression in medical school; the misplaced labeling of health workers as heroes; blowing the whistle on misinformation.

These are among the themes honored today as the ABIM Foundation today announced the winners of its 12th annual John A. Benson Jr., MD Professionalism Article Prize. The prize recognizes the best articles written in peer-reviewed journals on pressing issues facing the medical profession in 2021.

First-person narrative winners:

  • Dilemmas of Double Consciousness – On Being Black in Medicine, Ayana L. Langston, MD (May 2021). The author reflects on the dilemmas inherent in being a Black physician in an overwhelmingly white medical system.
  • We Burn Out, We Break, We Die, Christopher Thomas Veal, MD (May 2021). The author describes his experience with depression as a medical student, and calls for medical schools to change their culture to preserve medical students’ mental health and to commit to helping students who are struggling.

Commentary winners:

  • Financial Profit in Medicine: A Position Paper from the American College of Physicians, Ryan Crowley, BSJ; Omar Atiq, MD; David Hilden, MD (October 2021). The authors consider the effect of the growth of corporate interests and influence in health care on patients, physicians, and the health care system, and make a set of recommendations for policies that can foster and sustain the patient-physician relationship.
  • On Gifts and Heroes, Laura Kolbe, MD (January 2021). A physician questions whether referring to health care workers as heroes creates unfair expectations that they will accept excessive work risks or demands.
  • Professionalism revisited during the pandemics of our time: COVID-19 and racism, Zareen Zaidi, MD, PhD; Saleem Razack,MD, FRCPC; Arno K. Kumagai, MD (March 2021). The authors suggest revising our understanding of professionalism in light of the COVID-19 and racism pandemics, to focus on acting to right wrongs and demonstrating solidarity with those impacted by racism.
  • When Physicians Engage in Practices That Threaten the Nation’s Health, Philip A. Pizzo, MD; David Spiegel, MD; Michelle M. Mello, JD, PhD (February 2021). The authors argue that physicians and scientists have a professional obligation to respond when their peers misrepresent science.

Research winner:

“Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly exposed the significant health inequities and racial disparities that characterize the American healthcare system,” said Richard J. Baron, MD, President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine and ABIM Foundation. “The authors of the winning articles capture the many challenges and harsh realities facing the medical profession.”

About the Award

The ABIM Foundation first awarded the prize in 2011 to celebrate and encourage outstanding contributions to the literature on medical professionalism.

In 2015, the ABIM Foundation named the article prize in honor of American Board of Internal Medicine and ABIM Foundation President Emeritus John A. Benson Jr., MD. For more than two decades, Dr. Benson taught medical students at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he also worked to foster inter-professional education, and at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, where he served at the Center for Ethics in Health Care. He has received several honors for his work in medical education and clinical medicine and has written extensively about professionalism.

Over the past 12 years, 700 articles have been considered for the prize, and 46 have received the award.

Articles published in English language, peer-reviewed journals between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021 (online or in print), were eligible for the prize. A committee of health care leaders selected winners based on clarity of writing, thoroughness, methodology and contributions to the field and society.

Members of the selection committee included:

  • Mercy Adetoye, MD, Family physician, Clinical Lecturer, Academic Medicine Fellow, University of Michigan Health
  • John A. Benson Jr., MD, President Emeritus, American Board of Internal Medicine and ABIM Foundation
  • Joyce Dubow, MUP, Consumer/Patient Advocate
  • Richard Frankel, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics, Senior Scientist, Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Ellen M. Friedman, MD, FACS, FAAP, Professor, Otolaryngology, Director, Center for Professionalism in Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Hayley Goldbach, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Clinician Educator, Brown Dermatology
  • Lorna Lynn, MD, Vice President, Medical Education Research, American Board of Internal Medicine
  • Marlise Pierre-Wright, Resident, Northwestern
  • Bernard M. Rosof, MD, MACP, Chief Executive Officer of Quality in Healthcare Advisory Group, LLC
  • Daniel Wolfson, MHSA, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, ABIM Foundation


About the ABIM Foundation

The ABIM Foundation’s mission is to advance medical professionalism to improve the health care system by collaborating with physicians and physician leaders, medical trainees, health care delivery systems, payers, policymakers, consumer organizations and patients to foster a shared understanding of professionalism and how they can adopt the tenets of professionalism in practice. To learn more about the ABIM Foundation, visit, connect on Facebook or follow on Twitter.



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Jaime McClennen