The Department of Psychiatry lost a key member of its faculty on Thanksgiving Day 2015 when Richard Christensen, MD was struck by a vehicle while on his daily run in Zambia. Dr. Christensen and his wife, Kathy Christensen were in Zambia for a Habitat for Humanity build. Dr. Christensen was a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Florida and most known for his community psychiatry work with the homeless population in Jacksonville, Florida. He was one of the department’s most popular teachers, receiving multiple teaching awards and accolades, including the College of Medicine’s highest teaching honor, the Hippocratic Award twice.
The Department of Psychiatry wanted to commemorate his beloved teaching style by putting together a book entitled the “Christensen Pearls”. Clinical pearls are words of wisdom based on experience and observations to aid in teaching medical students by summarizing important clinical information, by applying real world examples. This book of clinical pearls focuses on Dr. Christensen’s work with homeless patients suffering from chronic mental illness.
An editorial board was established and consisted of Dr. Christensen’s students and colleagues from the University of Florida and the Sulzbacher Center who worked together to provide their favorite Christensen Pearls of wisdom and discuss some of them with the reader. The format of this book is very interesting in that the reader gets Dr. Christensen’s clinical pearls on treatment, a discussion from a colleague on how they have taken this wisdom and incorporated it in their treatment as providers, as well as from a patient who had been the recipient of this care. Maggie Hannon, a recreational therapist, led an art workshop with some of Dr. Christensen’s former patients to create the artwork appearing throughout the book. Once the book was completed it was printed and distributed to the clerkship students and the incoming psychiatry interns to continue Dr. Christensen’s teachings.