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Jerald Winakur, MD

Jerald Winakur, MD

Jerry Winakur graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1973, completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) in 1976 and has practiced internal and geriatric medicine in San Antonio for over thirty years, currently with Pasteur Medical Associates, the group he founded in 1990. He is also a Certified Medical Director for long-term care institutions and is credentialed by the American Medical Directors Association. He serves on the Ethics Committee of this organization.

Dr. Winakur is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UTHSCSA where he is also an Associate Faculty member at the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics where he helps teach the core curriculum. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

He and his wife, the lawyer-poet Lee Robinson, have co-taught their seminar, "Being Human: Contemporary Issues in Science, Medicine and Society," to undergraduates at UTSA and Trinity University, and currently teach an ongoing Literature and Medicine elective to second- and fourth-year medical students at UTHSCSA.

In 2005, Dr. Winakur's essay, "What Are We Going To Do With Dad," appeared in Health Affairs and The Washington Post and was syndicated in newspapers across America. He has been interviewed on The Diane Rehm Show and Fresh Air with Terry Gross as well as other syndicated radio shows. He has authored a monthly column, "Meditations on Medicine," in LifeTimes, and regularly speaks to lay audiences and health care professionals on the ethical caregiving of our senior citizens.

His book, Memory Lessons: A Doctor's Story, which he describes as a "memoir-manifesto," is forthcoming from Hyperion in January, 2009. It is about his life as a geriatrician, a commentary on aging and medical care in America, and the trials and joys of being the son of an old, old man.

"The course we teach, Medicine Through Literature, began as an experiment in the medical humanities when several MS4s requested such an offering from the Center. The students wanted to read novels and short stories and essays that, in their words, "had nothing to do with what a medical student does year by year." And we tried initially to follow their instructions. But we soon recognized that great literature and essays and poetry all speak to the human condition, to something all of us-seasoned doctors, students and patients-have in common. Our intersecting journeys told in the narrative tradition are instructive and ennobling, help center us in the busy rush of our lives, and nurture our empathic responsiveness. When a student responds to a story, Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych, for example, and says, "I didn't really get how death can be... I never experienced it in such a personal way before I read this story..." well, that is what we enjoy most about teaching this course. This is why we come back year after year. And why, I suspect, many of our students take this class as MS2s-and come back again two years later for more!"

Jerald Winakur, MD, physician author
and Lee Robinson, JD, lawyer poet
Course Co-Directors, Medicine Through Literature