Abraham Nussbaum

Physician and writer traveling the strange worlds of medicine.

I grew up in Colorado and read books at Swarthmore, which earned me starter gigs. 1st job next to medicine? Ferrying homeless people from hospitals. 1st job in medicine? Telling IM residents that their holidays were cancelled.

Eventually studied medicine, psychiatry, social medicine, and theology at Carolina and Duke. After all that school, I headed home to work off my student loans.

I practice at Denver Health, an academic safety-net, working administratively as Chief Education Officer and, clinically, as a psychiatrist.

Listening to the people I meet surprises me, so I read and write.  This site gathers some of the resulting work. Any errors and opinions are mine, not those of the hospitals and schools with which I affiliate.


The practice of medicine can become routine. To clarify my practice, I write, sharing some of my experiences with the people I meet as patients and learners. To date, the chief artifacts of my writing are a memoir, The Finest Traditions of My Calling, a trio of DSM-5 Pocket Guides, and Prescribing Together. I have also written for America, Commonweal, Psych News, STAT, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. More soon…

Complete Works

The Finest Traditions of My Calling recounts practicing medicine during healthcare reform. Reform altered the patient-physician relationship, but you could still find what Hippocrates called the “joy of healing.”

To help practitioners listen better, we put together three DSM Pocket Guides: the Pocket Guide to the DSM-5™ Diagnostic Exam, The DSM-5™ Pocket Guide to Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and The DSM-5™ Pocket Guide to Elder Mental Health. 


I lead several curricula locally and speak often at medical schools, colleges, and international conferences. Folks usually ask to hear about practitioner resilience, patient-centered communication, educational reform, and lessons learned from caring for persons with mental illness. My favorite speaking gigs? Talking about the reading and listening cures. (Med students may want to play the Hippocampus Game.)

The Listening Cure

When your ears are ringing with alarm fatigue, you need music. If you don’t have a Maxell UD II 90 mixtape of your own, try these:  See all playlists >

The Reading Cure

People sometimes confuse psychics and psychiatrists. Shrinks can’t read minds; we read books. A few years ago, I left social media and resumed reading. Reading builds resiliency and the ability to form therapeutic alliances. Here are some books about doctoring that I have been reading lately. See all book reviews >

Bedlam, Kenneth Paul Rosenberg

Rosenberg spent 5+ years following persons with serious mental illness. Our society allows them to disappear onto streets, jails, and early graves. If you know someone with a serious mental illness– and you do!– the Practical Advice at the end is helpful.

Justina Ford, Joyce B. Lohse

Colorado issued 3779 medical licenses before Dr. Justina Ford became the 1st Black women to receive one. It took 50 years for the state to license its next Black female doc. In reading about her for a writing project, I found this children’s book. It is one of the best resources about Dr. Ford. Next year is the 150th anniversary of her birth. Someone–it shan’t be me– should write a […]


  • Work clinically on adult inpatient psychiatry units which care for people experiencing mental health crises. Always seeking ways to care for underserved people through person-centered and evidence-based care while training the next generation of practitioners.
  • Previously worked as medical director of an interdisciplinary free clinic and an adult psychiatry service.
  • Authored and co-authored evidence-based, person-centered guides for the care of persons with mental illness.
  • Teach as an associate professor of psychiatry and assistant dean of graduate medical education at the University of Colorado School of Medicine while serving on the executive staff of Denver Health. (Caveat lector: Nothing here represents DH or CUSOM.)

Let’s Connect

    ``May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.``

    Hippocratic Oath