Abraham Nussbaum practices at Denver Health, an academic safety-net health system in downtown Denver. He previously directed its adult inpatient psychiatry units, which care for adults throughout Colorado experiencing mental health crises. He currently serves as Chief Education Officer and DIO for Denver Health’s health professional education programs, including dentistry, medicine, midwifery, nursing, paramedic, pharmacy, public health, and psychology education.

Dr. Nussbaum grew up in Colorado, studied literature and religion at Swarthmore, and completed medical school and psychiatry residency at the University of North Carolina, where he learned to deliver evidence-based care for persons with mental illness and participated in schizophrenia research. With his colleagues, Dr. Nussbaum conducts clinical research into psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.

In his practice, he strives to inhabit the roles described in his book The Finest Traditions of My Calling: One Physician’s Search for the Renewal of Medicine, which asks how he and his fellow practitioners can restore patients to health through person-centered care.

As an associate professor in the University of Colorado’s Psychiatry Department, he developed an award-winning curriculum for interviewing patients, which evolved into The Pocket Guide to the DSM-5 Diagnostic Exam. A diagnostic exam begins with forming a therapeutic alliance in shared pursuit of health, which improves health outcomes for patients and decreases burnout for practitioners. With national leaders in child and geriatric psychiatry, he published textbooks for the care of both children and older adults with mental illness which teach this approach.

The people he meets as patients are often at the loneliest moment of their lives, hospitalized after a suicide attempt or a psychotic episode. Drawing on these moments, he co-organized an international conference, Walking Together, on the responsibilities communities have towards persons with severe and persistent mental illness. He was subsequently a member of the American Psychiatric Association committee which prepared Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders, a resource for faith communities.

Ren ti hao xiang gong chang
Shanghai, 1933. 
Artwork courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.

In this public health poster, the body is an industrial factory.