I was honored today to speak with Edward Halperin, MD, a pediatric radiation oncologist, and Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY. Dr. Halperin is an erudite student of medical history and authored the recent article, ‘“We do not want him because he is a Jew:” The Montreal Interns’ Strike of 1934,’ published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (1). The story resonated with me for several reasons, one of which is that I was a neurology resident and epilepsy fellow in Montreal from 1985-1989. Dr. Halperin’s research puts the current discussion of institutional racism in medicine into relevant historical context.
During this 25-minute interview, Dr. Halperin relates the almost forgotten story of Samuel Rabinovitch, MD, the top medical student at the University of Montreal and Jewish intern (briefly!) at the Montreal Notre-Dame Hospital. To protest the hiring of a Jew, 75 French Canadian Roman Catholic interns from multiple hospitals chose to disregard their patient responsibilities and leave Dr. Rabinovitch as the sole intern on duty. Concerned that the strike deprived so many patients of medical care, Dr. Rabinovitch took the high road and resigned.
Dr. Halperin also discussed his research regarding quotas that limited Jews and other ethnic groups from entering medical and dental school from the 1920s to the 1960s. Specifically, he investigated why some hospitals defied this policy and integrated their classes.
To learn what happened to Dr. Rabinovitch and gain more insight into discrimination in medicine, please take time out of your day to listen to Dr. Halperin!
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References 1. Halperin E. “We do not want him because he is a Jew”: The Montreal Interns Strike of 1934. Ann Intern Med 2021;174:852-857.