Peter Cahn

Peter Cahn

Peter Cahn joined the Institute in July 2012 as Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, and Director and Professor in the Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation.

He trained as a cultural anthropologist with a focus on contemporary Latin America. Dr. Cahn started his career in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma in 2002, where he became Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies.

His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. He has published two books as well as articles in American Ethnologist and Cultural Anthropology. He writes occasional columns for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Before coming to the IHP, Dr. Cahn served as Director of Faculty Development and Diversity in the Department of Medicine at Boston University. At BU, he designed a structured, longitudinal mentoring program for early career faculty as well as workshops on academic writing and grant proposals.


Blog Posts by Peter Cahn

Nov 20, 2013

Compassionate Care


As a health-care lawyer and son of a physician, Ken Schwartz thought he understood how care delivery worked. When he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in 1994, however, he unexpectedly gained a new...Read more
Jan 21, 2014

Interprofessional Rounds: Healing Trauma

On Thursday, January 17, 2014, second-year students in the entry-level graduate programs gathered at Bunker Hill Community College for the Interprofessional Rounds. All year in the Schwartz Center Educational Rounds, students and faculty have been exploring the theme of healing trauma. As a capstone to this discussion, we invited Heather Abbott, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings, and her team of caregivers from Spaulding...Read more
Mar 10, 2014

Caring for the Perpetrators of Trauma

The Schwartz Center Educational Rounds highlight the human side of clinical care by focusing on how providers can sustain their compassion. Sometimes, though, a clinician can find it difficult to muster compassion for a patient. In the rounds on February 19, 2014, two students and an alumna described situations where they had to confront the limits of their ability to care. Chris Carter, PsyD, Director of...Read more
Apr 9, 2014

Caring for a High-Profile Patient

During this year's Interprofessional Rounds, a Boston Marathon bombing survivor described how the media requested an interview during her stay at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Not all the survivors wanted to share their stories so publicly, but our speaker did. So, to accommodate both the media's interest and the patient's recovery, her occupational therapist decided to tailor that day's session about the activities necessary to prepare for an interview. It's unusual for a health...Read more
Sep 12, 2014

Dementia With Dignity

This year's Schwartz Center Educational Rounds will focus on caring for patients with dementia. The theme sprung from a common reading assignment given to all incoming entry-level graduate students as an introduction to the...Read more
Dec 8, 2014

Voyage to Pluto

When Greg O'Brien started out as an investigative reporter, he would tell his sources they were going to "Pluto" when he wanted to have an off-the-record conversation. Now that he contends with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, Greg still finds the Pluto metaphor apt. The memory loss, cognitive decline, and anger can leave him feeling as isolated as the distant planet. Greg O'Brien will share his story with Institute students at the Ann W. Caldwell President's Lecture:...Read more
Jan 2, 2015

Departure: Boston to Santo Domingo

Since our kickoff meeting in September, the members of the Dominican Republic mission trip have been preparing for today's departure. Mertie Potter, a faculty member in the School of Nursing, has coordinated both the academic and logistical sides of the project. Her husband, Fred, has tuned up his camera to document the trip. The seven nurse practitioner students from the...Read more
Jan 3, 2015

Day One: Santo Domingo to La Romana

The MGH Institute/Boston Medical Center team gathered at Logan airport in Boston on Friday night for a JetBlue flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In an early example of successful collaboration, several students removed, repacked, and reweighed a suitcase so it came in just four-tenths of a pound under the 50-pound limit. When we reached the gate, we realized that we would share the flight with another team of volunteers from Massachusetts General Hospital. In this case, they were...Read more
Jan 4, 2015

Day Two: The Beach and the Hospital

This is a holiday weekend in the Dominican Republic. Three Kings' Day is when children in Latin America traditionally receive gifts. Casa Pastoral is affiliated with a Baptist church around the corner. The staff members who cook the meals and organize the logistics for the mission teams come from the church membership. Sunday we met yet another group on a medical mission, this one from Saco, Maine. Tomorrow we expect a small group of nurses from Rhode Island to fill any remaining bunk beds...Read more
Jan 7, 2015

Day Five: Batey Campinas de Lechuga

Each weekday Mertie Potter and the nurse practitioner students are visiting a different batey to support a mobile health clinic. The staff at Casa Pastoral orchestrate the intricate schedule. A yellow school bus picks up each of the three mission groups around 8 am to transport us to a work site. We carry all our supplies including medicines, lunch, and toys to give away.

...Read more
Jan 9, 2015

Day Seven: Soco and Playa Bandera Azul

Our last day in the Dominican Republic began with a now familiar routine. Everyone met in the dining hall for breakfast at 7 am and then prepared for the day. The medical team checked the contents of their bins, adding more vitamins or relabeling ziploc bags. The surgical team went over their schedule for the day and wrote down what supplies they would need.

...Read more
Jan 22, 2015

The Face of Alzheimer's

On Thursday, January 15, 2015, the Ann W. Caldwell President's Lecture featured Greg O'Brien, a patient with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and his team of family and clinicians. After describing their perspective on caring for someone with dementia, the panel answered questions from the audience of second-year graduate students.

...Read more
Dec 21, 2015

In Our Own Voice

In the cycle of commentary that follows mass shootings in the United States, calls for increased mental health services nearly always surface. It's hard to refute the need for supporting those with mental illness, and it's certainly easier than navigating the politics of gun control. Still, as the New York Times editorialized, less than five percent of gun homicides...Read more