Bioethics Blogs

Becoming Zusha: Reflecting on Potential in Medical Education and Practice

By Hedy Wald

Reb Zusha* used to say: “When I die and come before the heavenly court, if they ask me, ‘Zusha, why were you not Abraham?’ I’ll say that I didn’t have Abraham’s intellectual abilities. If they say, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ I’ll say I didn’t have Moses’ leadership abilities. For every such question, I’ll have an answer. But if they say, ‘Zusha, why were you not Zusha?’ for that, I’ll have no answer.”   

*Rabbi Meshulam Zusha of Hanipol (Anipoli), pious great Hassidic Rabbi (1718-1800)

What is our answer when faced with the challenge of helping our “Zushas,” our learners and educators, be all the “Zushas” they can be?

Developing a “reflective culture” within medical schools and teaching hospitals can encourage and guide learners, educators, and practitioners to recognize and take steps toward realizing untapped potential in self and in health care teams. Within a longitudinal, developmental reflective process starting in year one of medical school, extending into residency  and beyond,1 reflection-fostered awareness of self, other, and situation facilitates purposeful, self-directed learning, more effective use of feedback, and development of new habits of mind, heart, and practice.2  Meaning is created from experience and newly illuminated capabilities may be actualized…

“Reflective culture” cultivation broadens medical education focus to include teaching metacognitive and meta-affective skills, including mindful awareness and active monitoring of one’s thinking and learning processes as well as emotions, i.e. becoming a “responsible scholar.”3 As adaptive learners,, cognizant of cognitive and affective components (what hinders? what helps?), “responsible scholars” broaden their horizons by capturing transformative learning opportunities presented by patients, colleagues, and situation/environment; challenging “him or herself to take risks, to invent and reinvent, and to take on active and lifelong inquiries”3 p.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.