PITTSBURGH, PA (November 19, 2021) Today, Mayor William Peduto was joined by Dr. Barry Kerzin to announce the opening of the Altruism in Medicine Institute (AIMI) in Pittsburgh. The Northside-based institute works with local communities and institutions to teach applying Eastern philosophy to Western medical practices to create basic human-based compassionate care that benefits both the patients and medical practitioners.
The AIMI was founded by Dr. Kerzin, who is a California-born family physician who moved to India in 1988 to provide free medical care to local communities. There, he began studying Buddhism and meditation and was ordained a Bikkshu (Buddhist monk) by the Dalai Lama in February of 2003. He has since served as the Dali Lama’s personal physician as well as lecturer and teacher worldwide.
Dr. Kerzin started AIMI to teach medical principles that revive basic human caring in medical practice. It is common for medical professionals to feel burnout, depression, anger and frustration, which has been exacerbated by the high physical and emotional demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AIMI works with medical professionals to teach that empathy can lead to burnout, but self-compassion, compassion for others and mindfulness will result in resilience that improves outcomes for nurses, physicians, physicians assistants and other health care professionals as well as for patients.
While the AIMI has worked with health care professionals around the world, they intend to continue working with Pittsburgh’s large medical community, many of whom can take the teachings to other parts of the world. To date, they have worked with over 4,000 nurses and physicians at one Pittsburgh health care organization, medical students and are engaged with other medical and education institutions.
In partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, AIMI has expanded their teachings to include additional professions that regularly engage and provide service to people, particularly vulnerable people in need. Recognizing the need to avoid burnout, AIMI has worked with first responders, Citiparks staff and the Office of Community Health and Safety team to provide trainings in altruism, meditation and compassion to take care of themselves and, in turn, continue to provide high quality service to the people of Pittsburgh.
“I’d like to thank Dr. Barry Kerzin for choosing Pittsburgh to set up the AIMI which will teach our local communities and communities all around the world compassion to avoid burnout in demanding, public-facing fields where self-care and altruism are critical for staff and the people they serve. We have started an important partnership to provide this for our own staff and we thank AIMI for working with us to work towards creating a Pittsburgh that is compassionate and altruistic for all.”