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Chabad Rabbi at NJ Medical School

(UMDNJ Piscataway, NJ) – On January 2, 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School UMDNJ conducted a unique health and spirituality all day seminar for its medical students. Often patients turn to their physicians for answers. But many are not equipped - emotionally or intellectually - to discuss sensitive topics, such as sexuality, spirituality, guilt and fear. Students at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School however, are trained to take on the role of advisor, sex educator, and counselor. For example, second-year students take a required 40-hour course on human sexuality. "We want students to become sensitive health care providers," says Sandra R. Leiblum, PhD, course director and professor of clinical psychiatry and obstetrics/gynecology at the school. "

Rabbi Baruch Goodman, campus director of Chabad House Jewish Student Center at Rutgers University led the UMDNJ students in a series of seminars investigating the importance of health care providers being sensitive to the religious and cultural requirements of patients. Presenting such topics as Understanding the Connection between Physical and Spiritual Health, Healing: Sacred and Secular, and Human Sexuality for Health Care Professionals as Seen by the Torah, Rabbi Goodman encouraged students to do role-playing exercises which give them a chance to "rehearse" practical clinical situations that might arise. “By right - not by religious principle nor by spiritual sentiment – but by definition, one human being may not ever enter another human being’s intimate life,” said Goodman, “there needs to be a profound respect for the person as a whole, both in speaking about the husband and wife relationship, as well as the health care professional and patient dynamic. Sanctity of the human body is a subject that every good health care provider should be cognizant of.”

"Some students have never talked about spirituality or sexuality on a health-care level before," said Leiblum. "They need training to handle these kinds of inquiries and discussions with patients. This course enables them to feel comfortable doing that."

Students studying to be medical doctors, nurses, physicians’ assistants, psychologists, social workers, and professional health-care and mental healthcare providers were in attendance.

Rabbi Baruch Goodman is also an immunologist who performed pioneering research of the molecular biology of Interferon systems at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC, as well as immunoassay development for Johnson and Johnson’s Ortho Diagnostics in Raritan, NJ and Photest Diagnostics in Little Falls, NJ.



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