Healthcare from Hell to Here: Moral Courage and Vulnerability from the Shoah (1939-1945) to Today

Medical education needs to address how physicians and other health care workers do their best in times of great moral hazard, community catastrophe, and faced with tragic choices and decision making under conditions of uncertainty. This includes an awareness of one’s own autobiography, including remembering one’s own original motivations for the practice of medicine. Dr. Bursztajn will illustrate this process by way of referring to how he continues to be influenced by what he learned as a child in post World War II Poland about his parent’s experiences with health care during the Shoah, and the transgenerational transmission of both trauma and resilience.

Dr. Bursztajn will explore how his growing awareness of the need for social justice in health care emerged when, at the age of 9, he immigrated with his parents to a then impoverished industrial town, Paterson, New Jersey, and how it translated to his student days in medical school as when he served as a member of the admissions committee advocating for access for the socioeconomically disadvantaged. He will illustrate how deepening autobiographical awareness is fundamental to his own career-long continuing medical education and mentoring as it continues today in clinical and forensic neuropsychiatry, psychoanalysis and the ethical conflicts which have emerged in the context of medical progress in areas as diverse as genetics and geriatrics.