Meet Richard Glickman-Simon, MD

Health Science Honors Course Director

For Dr. Richard Glickman-Simon, founding faculty member of Tufts Health Science Honors program, a life in medicine and teaching wasn't his childhood dream. He spent his undergraduate years at the University of Virginia as an astrophysics major. Then he realized that, "I needed to get more involved with the human race." That was the moment he decided to pursue a career in medicine.

Tufts was a natural choice for where Glickman-Simon would study to become a doctor. He visited campus often since his girlfriend (now wife) went to Tufts as an undergraduate and the opportunities the school offered were a perfect fit. "The school has always held a special place," he says.

Not only did Glickman-Simon get his medical training at Tufts, but he spent time working for the campus Health Services Center. When it was time to pursue his other passion – teaching – Glickman-Simon discovered the university's Community Health Program and developed a course in clinical medicine for undergraduates that he continues to teach dozens of years later.

The Next Generation
"I think a Tufts' emphasis on preparing students for careers in health – all aspects of health, not just clinical medicine – distinguishes it from other comparable universities," he says. Glickman-Simon's continued zeal and commitment to the university and to future medical students is apparent. He sees the Health Science Honors program as an essential, hands-on preview of life in medical school. "It gives students a straightforward look at the practice of contemporary medicine in the U.S."

Students in the Health Science Honors program visit Tufts New England Medical Center and the Tufts School of Medicine laboratories. Through virtual cases and clinical observation, students learn how to interview patients, perform physicals, order diagnostic tests, prescribe treatment and recommend preventive interventions. They also share in a traditional rite of passage for all med students: the gross anatomy lab with actual cadavers. While Glickman-Simon recognizes the value of providing thorough scientific explorations, he also wants his students to go beyond those parameters to examine what is know as complementary medicine.

East Meets West

When patients are as interested in understanding yoga and meditation as they are in researching the effectiveness of Prozac, doctors need to be well-versed on both worlds of treatment. What makes the Health Science Honors program unique is its attention to both Western and Eastern modes of thought – a holistic blend of scientific and natural medicine. It's something Dr. Glickman-Simon has long been attentive to: "After practicing (medicine) for awhile, I noticed that I wasn't having the impact on my patients that I had hoped for…I still wasn't satisfied that I was making much of a difference in the lives of the people I served. So I began to investigate alternatives and wound up working in a practice that specialized in complementary and alternative therapies."

Meeting Today's Challenges

Dr. Glickman-Simon is candid about what the contemporary landscape of medicine looks like. He sees a doctor's biggest challenge as the country's health care system. "It is extremely frustrating for most doctors to have to concern themselves with multiple layers of bureaucracy, at the expense of simply spending time with their patients. I don't see the situation changing, though, until we, as a society, decide to deal with the ever escalating problem of health care costs, quality, and access."

He tempers that critique by reaffirming his commitment to his students and what they stand to gain in the Tufts Health Science Honors program, "Most students come away even more excited about medicine then they were before…I think the course provides them with a realistic picture of what it's like to be a doctor in the early 21st-Century."
 

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