Abraham Nussbaum

Physician and writer traveling the strange worlds of medicine.

I grew up in Colorado, read literature at Swarthmore, and worked a series of starter gigs. (First job next to medicine? Ferrying homeless people from hospitals. First job in medicine? Telling IM residents that their holidays were cancelled.)

Studied medicine, psychiatry, social medicine, and theology at Carolina and Duke. After training, I came home to practice.

I practice within an academic safety-net system, Denver Health, 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 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 renew my practice, I write, which allows me to share some of the stories of the people I meet as patients and learners. Writing clarifies my thought and practice. 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, 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 >

The Second Mountain, David Brooks

Diseases of despair? The cure is a relational society! Reading a whole @nytdavidbrooks book can be like attending a very-long dinner party with your successful uncle. He has experience and wisdom, but so much of it! And why does he count out his wisdom on his fingers? But as the dinner wears on, you realize he has a heart of gold: Chapter 21. Show up late for the party and […]

When They Call You A Terrorist, Patrisse Khan-Cullors

People with mental illness deserve better: “For my brother, hospitals signaled harm if not outright hatred.” Khan-Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, writes about the failures of her brother Monte’s mental health treatment. She sees her brother in spit masks and restraints. She writes clearly about the ways law enforcement and mental health are authorities which govern the bodies of Black people. Reform is urgently needed. (But: […]


  • 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 Denver Health 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