Jean-Robert Desrouleaux, M.D., a born teacher.
Reynald Altéma, MD
For those of us who have been interacting with Dr. Desrouleaux at AMHE activities, he is known universally as Jean-Jean. What may or may not surprise some is that at home, his two children also use the same pet name, a fact he chuckles about when he mentions it. He is also known as a master lodyansè, and an AMHE annual convention without him holding court during leisure time with spellbound attendees, riveted by his storytelling ability always feels like there is something missing.
A product of the then sole medical school in the country, La Faculté de Médecine de l’Université d’État d’Haïti, from 1970 to 1976, even though he has elected residence in the US since 1981, he still maintains his Gordian knot with the mother land. This is due to the strong bond linking him to the place that gave him birth and that he tries to help whenever he can. He did Residency training in Surgery at Cap-Haïtien from 1976 to 1978 and thereafter was named attending physician at the Centre de Santé La Fossette for one year and then medical director of the same institution for the next two years. In 1981, he emigrated to the US. For the next four years, he worked as house physician at various hospitals, the first one was in General Surgery and the latter two in Urology. One year at St John Episcopal Hospital, two years at Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Brooklyn and then one year at Winthrop University Hospital in Long Island.
After four years of working as house physician, he started postgraduate training in earnest. First, he did three years in Psychiatry at the Kingsborough Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn and then veered to Neurology and did three years of training at NYU Medical School doing rotation at the famed Bellevue Hospital plus Manhattan VA Hospital, NYU Hospital and the Hospital for Joint Diseases. He spent an additional year of Fellowship in Neuromuscular Diseases, EMG and nerve conduction studies.
From 1993 onward, he has been in solo private practice, a rapidly disappearing pattern, and using LIJ-Valley Stream Hospital (heretofore known as Franklin General Hospital) as his main institution. Three years later and since, he has been the Director of Neurology at the same hospital.
Even though he has chosen the path of primary clinical practice over academia, he always had the verve for teaching. Since 2002 he has been shuttling to Haiti on an annual basis to give lectures to medical students, residents in training at Quiskeya University, l’Hôpital Justinien respectively as a volunteer faculty member, without any subsidy or remuneration.
His clinical acumen has been noticed by colleagues from a wide swath. His reputation preceding him, he received an invitation to write a chapter in a recently published textbook of Neurology titled, Neurologic Differential Diagnosis, published by the world-famous Cambridge University Press (England). This textbook breaks new ground and presents the information from a different perspective. Instead of simply describing a disease and its manifestations, it starts from symptoms and works its way up to establish a diagnosis. This novel approach has garnered wide acclaim. His chapter in the textbook is Lumbar Plexopathy. In practical terms, this has enhanced his reputation as a clinician and his advice is sought by colleagues throughout the contiguous states and from overseas.
Nonetheless he still itches to transform the way Neurology is taught in his homeland. Instead of the rote perspective, he would rather bring about a more analytical viewpoint where interaction of anatomy, physiology, melded with common sense, and laws of physics would help to better understanding of the subject matter.
As for the frontispiece for his life, he wants to be remembered simply as a decent man who loved his family, his wife, his children, his brothers and sisters, his friends as well as a fan of ballon rond first and foremost as well as basketball.