Carol C. Nadelson

Carol C. Nadelson, MD
2009 Alma Dea Morani Renaissance Award Recipient

Dr. Nadelson has had a major impact on the career development and advancement of women physicians and scientists throughout the world, pioneered work in women's health and mental health, dedicated herself to the education and mentoring of students, physicians and the public, and provided inspirational leadership in psychiatry and medicine. She has steered an unusual course in academic medicine, devoting herself to innovative and evolving areas of investigation, clinical understanding and education. Her work has left an indelible mark on patients and on generations of students and colleagues.

Dr.Nadelson graduated from Brooklyn College Magna Cum Laude and, although one of two female pre-medical students, out of almost 200, she was elected President of the Biomedical Society. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Nadelson received her MD from the University of Rochester College of Medicine and Dentistry, where she was, again, one of two women in her class. She was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha and graduated with honors, winning the Benjamin Rush Psychiatry Award. After a medical internship at Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital, she trained in psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC) and Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital (BIH). She completed an National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) sponsored Career Teacher Fellowship in medical education, and became an Instructor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a staff psychiatrist in the BIH Department of Psychiatry. She was named Director of Medical Student Education at (BIH), and worked as a consultation-liaison psychiatrist for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Nadelson remained at BIH, advancing to the HMS rank of Associate Professor of Psychiatry.

In 1979, she became Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University College of Medicine and Vice-Chair and Director of Training and Education in the Tufts Department of Psychiatry at New England Medical Center (NEMC). Her efforts reshaped the psychiatry residency program and it became competitive with the leading national programs. She was one of the founders of the Association for Academic Psychiatry, the national leadership group of psychiatric educators, of which she later became President. Dr. Nadelson was invited to be a member of a small group of premier teachers in psychiatry who served as the site visitors for NIMH training grants and she was appointed as a consultant to the Psychiatric Education Branch of the NIMH.

Following a sabbatical year at Stanford’s prestigious Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, she returned to HMS as a Senior Psychiatrist at Cambridge Hospital in 1992 and was promoted to Clinical Professor at HMS (the HMS designation for part-time faculty). At Cambridge Hospital she served as a vital teacher, clinical supervisor, role model and mentor to the psychiatry residents and HMS students.

In 1998, Dr. Nadelson moved her academic activities to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she was appointed founding Director of the Partners Office for Women's Careers (OWC). In this role, she has impacted the lives of countless women physicians and their patients, working tirelessly for equity in the advancement and promotion of women faculty and the treatment of women patients. Dr. Nadelson is currently Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, where she supervises psychiatric residents. She serves also as a premedical student advisor for both Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

At BWH, Dr. Nadelson has used her expertise in mentoring, teaching and organizational leadership to focus on women faculty and trainees, thereby facilitating the recruitment, retention and career development of women. Dr. Nadelson meets regularly with every Department Chair to help these institutional leaders understand the potential and challenges of women in academic medicine and to facilitate women's careers. Her office maintains a database of women faculty at BWH, and Dr. Nadelson uses it to keep hospital leadership current with the progress of the individual women faculty toward promotion. She counsels and guides BWH leaders with departmental crises and problems concerning women faculty. Dr. Nadelson, leading the OWC Advisory Committee was a major impetus behind the implementation of a maternity/paternity/adoption leave policy at BWH and the development of backup childcare. On the basis of her expertise with issues of boundary violations, she called attention to the need for a hospital policy, including mandatory professionalism training for all faculty.

Dr. Nadelson was one of the founders of HMS Leadership Development for Physicians and Scientists, involving the senior leadership of five HMS hospitals and she continues as one of the faculty for the Course. This course has been a model for others North America. She spearheaded the formation of a Center for Faculty Development and Diversity at BWH and has been influential in the formation of similar centers in other Harvard teaching hospitals as well as in hospitals and universities in the U.S. and internationally. As a full-time professional, mother and grandmother, Dr. Nadelson has been a knowledgeable resource for women professionals in balancing careers with family life.

Dr. Nadelson has been an acclaimed leader throughout her career, frequently being "the first woman" in a variety of local and national organizations. At HMS, Dr. Nadelson has been an elected member of the Faculty Council, and served as its Vice Chair. She has been a member of the HMS Admissions Committee, chairing one of its subcommittees and sparking a dramatic increase in the numbers of women admitted to HMS in the early 1970s. She was an organizing member of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women. She sits on the HMS Faculty Publications Review Committee, the Selection Committee for the Eleanor and Miles Shore 50th Anniversary Program for Scholars in Medicine, the Medical Area Health Services Review Committee, and the Selection Committee for the Dean's Award for Leadership in the Advancement of Women Faculty.

In Massachusetts, Dr. Nadelson was the first woman President (1975-76) of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society, served on the Massachusetts Medical Society’s New England Journal of Medicine's Advisory Board for the Committee on Publications, and on the Massachusetts Medical Association's Committee on the Impaired Physician.

Nationally, Dr. Nadelson served on the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), the Graduate Medical Education National Advisory Committee (GMENAC) and the Accreditation Council Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). She has been President of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), the leading national think tank of psychiatrists working on issues of psychiatrists and society. She is currently President-elect of the American College of Psychoanalysts. Dr. Nadelson has been a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Psychiatrists, the Executive Committee of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training, and the World Psychiatric Associations Committee on Women's Health.

She has served on the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Impaired Physicians Advisory Committee and National Advisory Council on Family Violence. Dr. Nadelson is viewed as a leading expert on this topic and has influenced education and policy on domestic violence. She has been a Trustee and member of the Board of Directors of the Menninger Foundation and Clinic, served on the Hastings Center Program Planning Committee and is a member of the Massachusetts and International Women's Forums, and currently on the Alumni Council of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for Women’s Health Research.

In its 144th year, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), in 1984, elected Dr. Nadelson as its first woman president. She subsequently was appointed to a challenging new position, Editor-in-Chief of the fledgling American Psychiatric Press, Inc (APPI), which at the time, consisted of a small number of published books. She was one of the first women to assume leadership of a major academic specialty publishing enterprise as the president and chief executive officer of APPI. She led the expansion of this educational resource into the world's largest and most successful publisher of psychiatric books and journals.

She is a long time member of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) women liaison officers’ group. Among her awards are the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Psychiatry from the American College of Psychiatrists; the APA's Seymour Vestermark Award for outstanding contributions to psychiatric education; the AMA's Sidney Cohen Award for outstanding contributions to the understanding of addiction; the Elizabeth Blackwell Award from the American Medical Women's Association for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Women in the Field of Medicine; the American College of Psychoanalysts' Laughlin Editorial Award; the American Psychoanalytic Association's Pioneers in Psychoanalysis of Women Award; the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society's Outstanding Psychiatrist Award for Lifetime Achievement, the MacDonald Hospital for Women Award in Recognition of Outstanding Contributions in Medicine; the AAMC Women in Medicine Leadership Development Award; the Alexandra Symond’s award from APA, recognizing outstanding contributions to women’s mental health; and she has been named a Boston YWCA Woman of Achievement.

Dr. Nadelson has been a pioneer in exploring gender differences in women's health and mental health. Her early publications included those on psychological responses to rape, pregnancy and perinatal psychiatry, adoption and psychiatric issues in abortion. She and her colleagues were the first to identify rape as a risk factor for PTSD and to expand our understanding of that disorder. Dr. Nadelson's clinical investigative efforts have focused on issues of women's health including long-term follow-up of the impact of rape on the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Nadelson was the Co-Director of an innovative longitudinal study that explored the stresses on medical students and long term outcomes. She is the author nearly 250 scientific publications including peer reviewed original articles, clinical contributions, book chapters and tapes. She is the editor of 24 books including recent textbooks on women's health and physician sexual misconduct, many papers, chapters and books on the history of women in medicine, career conflict of women in medicine, women’s health, women’s mental health, boundary violations, family violence, PTSD in women, and the psychology of women.

Her work on boundary issues in medicine has galvanized exploration of the extent and consequences of violations and has influenced policy in medicine and law. In addition, Dr. Nadelson has been the senior consulting editor for publications on health and mental health issues for the lay public, including such as anorexia nervosa, child abuse and neglect, alcoholism, heroin use, designer drugs, schizophrenia, personality disorders, sexual disorders, etc. She is widely sought as a speaker for professional and lay groups and has delivered more than 1000 lectures and presentations throughout the world. She has addressed other professions including law, business and colleagues in the humanities and behavioral sciences.

Dr. Nadelson has been an invited guest in the US Congress and The White House, informing on mental health issues including parity for psychiatric and other medical disorders, women's equity in medicine and research, and women’s health research and practice. The publication of the seminal series, The Woman Patient, in three volumes, presented an entirely new concept of women as patients, to the medical community. The series established a new understanding of the role of gender and gender differences in developmental, physiological, psychological and pathological area. She pioneered the establishment of a new field of study: women’s mental health.

Biography from the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine website, here.


The Center for the History of Medicine holds the papers of Carol C. Nadelson. The Carol C. Nadelson Papers, 1970-2006, describe Nadelson's activities as a teacher and researcher at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine communities through teaching materials, subject files, research notes, conference programs, and writings.

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