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Nathan Bertelsen

Nathan Bertelsen, MD

Nathan Bertelsen, MD, Associated Faculty of Global Public Health, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Population Health at NYU School of Medicine, and Assistant Professor of Global Health and Medical Education at KoƧ University School of Medicine. With a joint appointment at NYU and KU, he is based in Istanbul and returns periodically to New York to teach and see patients as a hospitalist and primary care physician at Bellevue Hospital. 

Nate's most recent research explores access to health services for Syrians migrants in Turkey. While managing medical services as Assistant Medical Director and Director of Primary Care of Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT) for four years, he conducted studies of prevalence and access of asylum seekers in New York which is similar to his expected research with Syrian migrants. He and his team examined asylum seekers from more than 50 different countries for diseases, infections and mental illness, such as: hypertension, Diabetes and smoking, HIV, other STIs, latent Tuberculosis and viral Hepatitis, PTSD and depression. As a faculty member living in Istanbul, Nate plans to apply this migrant health model to learn more about Syrian migrants' health and barriers to access in Turkey, Europe and the Middle East.

"There is a massive migration of people coming from Syria. This is the biggest humanitarian crisis seen since World War II. Many of the countries through which Syrian migrants are moving have universal coverage, yet they are not getting coverage. As universal coverage doesn't necessarily extend beyond citizens in some countries, Syrian migrants must pay for services. Other migrants have difficulty receiving care due to language barriers. In Turkey, there are virtually no Arabic translators that migrants can access in a clinic or hospital."

Recently, Nate joined other academics, NGO members and public officials for a meeting of the European Commission to identify Europe's responses to the Syrian migrant crisis and look at the role of research might play in these responses. With more than twice as many Syrian migrants in Turkey as there are in the EU (2.5 Million), there is a dire need to determine Syrian migrants' state of health in Turkey. Nate plans to apply his model of medical services research in Turkey as part of a migrant health research initiative of the European Commission and Horizon 2020 research -- the European version of the NIH.

"We know what we need to do: identify the burden of disease and ensure their access (access to clinical services and to interpreters). We've discussed what data we already have and what are our best practices in migrant research. Frankly, we have the data. Of course, the political will won't change until there is public support."

Nate's research experience in migration health is built upon his tenure as Assistant Medical Director and Director of Primary Care at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT) which delivers medical, psychiatric, social, and legal services to victims of torture and other forms of persecution regardless of whether they have the ability to pay. He also spoke at and helped organize another NYU GNU symposium in 2013, NYU Accra Healing Environment, at NYU Accra where both Dean Cheryl Healton and Vice Dean Olugbenga Ogedegbe spoke, which focused on the role of the creative arts as a healing force in physical and mental health; the meeting recognized that while there is no medicine without scientific evidence, there is no healing without the creative arts. Nate studied global mental health with Dr Richard Mollica, who highlights the concept of the healing environment prominently in his work.

In Turkey, Nate is also currently working on his second collaborative study with Drs. Scott Sherman and Michael Weitzman and NYU students. The current study examines the impact of a Twitter-based intervention in encouraging Koc University students to quit smoking.

Nate also believes interprofessional education is necessary for training health professionals for the 21st century. He serves as Senior Advisor for the Central American Healthcare Initiative (CAHI) at INCAE Business School in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama. At CAHI, he is studying the role that business schools and management training can play in health system improvement and community health interventions, in a culturally-sensitive and locally-focused way.

Nate graduated with a medical degree from University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis and completed his residency in internal medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York. He also has a certificate in global mental health from the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma and a Bachelors of Arts in government/
international relations from Georgetown University.

In 2011, he was awarded Faculty of the Year in the NYU Division of General Internal Medicine. From 2012 to 2014, he completed the NYU Merrin Bedside Teaching Faculty Development Fellowship, with his focus on teaching empathy and cross-cultural communication in medical training. In 2015, he received the Silver Medal for his work in teaching empathy from the European Society for Person-Centered Healthcare. His research interests include: medical education, health management training, tobacco-related and other non-communicable diseases, and migrant health.


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