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Harold J. Bursztajn, M.D.

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2008 - 2008
A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award
2015 - 2015
Flexner Dean's Lecture Series

Harold J. Bursztajn, MD -[Curriculum Vitae]- has over twenty-five years of service as a distinguished patient care-focused clinician and as senior clinical faculty at Harvard Medical School. Among his many distinctions at Harvard Medical School is being recognized as a practicing "doctor's doctor" by being named Principal Mentor at Harvard Medical School and being awarded the A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award as well as being the first physician/forensic psychiatrist in Harvard Medical School's history to be appointed as the representative of the Harvard Medical School Alumni Board of Directors to the Harvard University Alumni Board. He continues to be active in patient care, forensic consultation, and judicial education. Among the many clinical honors bestowed by Dr. Bursztajn's patients and colleagues nationwide is his being recently named to the "Best Doctors in America" list.

He is co-Founder of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Department of Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Author of the highly acclaimed book, Medical Choices, Medical Chances this classic has been reviewed favorably in leading medical journals ranging from the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association to the American Journal of Psychiatry. Among his other leading contributions to medical and mental health education are three books Divided Staffs, Divided Selves, a Case Approach to Mental Health Ethics, Decision Making in Psychiatry and the Law and Psychiatric Ethics and the Rights of Persons with Mental Disabilities in Institutions and the Community, as well as numerous articles in medicine, psychiatry, forensic neuropsychiatry and clinical ethics.

Dr. Bursztajn consults clinically and forensically, provides second opinions in patient care, teaches medical students and conducts continuing medical education courses for professionals; and advises institutions, the courts, and public health-oriented media on forensic psychiatry and clinical ethics-related issues. He serves as a peer reviewer expert for leading medical and psychiatric journals, non-profit medical and ethics review organizations, health care and human services corporations and the judiciary. His numerous awards and honors in the course of twenty-five years of service as a Harvard Medical School clinical faculty member range from the Solomon Faculty Research Prize to his being named as one of only fifty Principal Clinical Mentors for Harvard Medical School entering class.

In addition to his twenty-five-year commitment to patient care, Dr. Bursztajn consults nationally and internationally to individuals and institutions, plaintiff and defense attorneys, and the courts as a distinguished forensic psychiatric expert. Among his areas of expertise are treating vulnerable patients, improving medical and mental health decision making, informed consent and malpractice and product liability risk reduction, and standards for the forensic evaluation of employment-related claims, diminished capacity, psychiatric autopsies, and violence prevention.

Dr. Bursztajn is active in public education and promoting intergenerational learning and inquiry. Contributions to public education include his work as a guest analyst on news programs including CNN Headline News, Boston's WCVB News Show Chronicle and public education programs such as those presented by ABC's Discovery Channel including "Who Killed Julius Caesar?, " "Who Killed Tutankhamun?," "Who Killed Alexander the Great?," "The Mysterious Death of Cleopatra," and "Columbus: Secrets From The Grave." His work in public education with teams of experts from a variety of scientific and humanities backgrounds has been recognized both academically in Harvard Magazine and publicly in The Sunday London Times.

Dr. Bursztajn teaches and consults nationally to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, as well as to physicians across the primary and specialty medical care spectrum. He serves as faculty for the Harvard Medical School Psychiatric Intensive Diagnostic Interviewing Preparatory Course for the Board of Psychiatry & Neurology certification examinations. He continues to publish and present workshops nationally and internationally on a variety of special interest topics in medicine and in general and forensic neuropsychiatry.

There are a variety of areas of human suffering which, insofar as they evoke painful or frightening feelings, can become all too sadly unspeakable. Among Dr. Bursztajn's special interests are the long term consequences of massive psychic trauma. Over the years he has explored this topic in workshops for health care providers both nationally and internationally. He also continues to consult and teach to a variety of health-care professionals, ranging from members of hospice ethics committees to surgical grand rounds attendees regarding the foundations of current clinical and organizational ethics standards for patient care. Dr. Bursztajn's motivation for becoming a doctor and for continuing to practice clinically and to teach nationally can be found in the following article: "The Shoah and its Aftermath," which presents the testimony of Dr. Bursztajn father, a Holocaust survivor.

Dr. Vesna Bosanac: Ethical Decisions in Times of War in Croatia
International, 06/09/14 - 08/15/14

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Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.