Massachusetts Medical Society: UMass Medical Student Selected as winner of Massachusetts Medical Society History Essay Contest

UMass Medical Student Selected as winner of Massachusetts Medical Society History Essay Contest

Colleen FlanaganWaltham – April -- Colleen Flanagan, a student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has been selected as the winner of the 2017 History Essay Contest sponsored by the Massachusetts Medical Society. 

The award is presented annually by the MMS Committee on History to a medical student for the best original, independently researched essay related to the history of medicine or public health in Massachusetts since the establishment of the Society in 1781.  A $1,000 award accompanies the honor.

Ms. Flanagan’s essay was entitled, “The Benevolent Institution: How the Seventh Annual Report Argues for Developing European Attitudes Towards Mental Health in 19th Century America.”  

The 2,600-word essay describes how the seventh annual report of the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, which opened in 1832, went beyond the request for more funding from the Commonwealth and engaged in an ongoing dialogue regarding the causes and treatment of insanity. “In doing so,” Ms. Flanagan concluded, “the trustees and superintendent began the spread of European Enlightened ideals regarding the mentally ill to America.”  The complete essay may be read here

Ms. Flanagan is a first-year medical student at UMass Medical School in Worcester.  She received her high-school diploma from Phillips Academy Andover in 2010 and her bachelor’s degree in biology and history from Tufts University in 2014.  Her studies at Tufts included biomedical basic science research in the field of neuro-oncology while part of the Cochran Lab at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Following graduation, she pursued an interest in the policy and business aspects of the medical field by working in healthcare consulting at The Amundsen Group and IMS Health (now QuintilesIMS).  Her medical interests include oncology, especially within the field of hematology/oncology, which she will further explore this summer with research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

The Massachusetts Medical Society, with some 25,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society, under the auspices of NEJM Group, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and Journal Watch alerts and newsletters covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education providing accredited and certified activities across the globe for physicians and other health care professionals.  Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country. For more information please visit,, or

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