Dr. Sheldon Teperman, director of the trauma center at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi since 2007, says there can be no better motivator to go to work every day than the likelihood that he and his colleagues will need to save someone’s life. Multiply that by 365 days and it’s not hard to understand why one of Dr. Teperman’s proudest accomplishments is gaining certification from the American College of Surgeons for all six of the city health system’s Level One trauma centers. “There were prominent national trauma surgeons who said Health + Hospitals could not do it,” Dr. Teperman says. “With certification, our trauma centers are again receiving national acclaim for the excellent care we deliver to injured patients.”

Dr. Teperman, who began his career at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi as an attending surgeon in 1995, considers the strength of the trauma centers a vital part of providing high-quality care to all New Yorkers. “My colleagues and I at Jacobi and Health + Hospitals have spent a lifetime leveling the playing field of health care,” he says. He recalls his own mother coming into the Jacobi trauma center after a bad fall. “She received amazing, compassionate care—not because she was the mother of the trauma director but because she was an injured human being. Ask around and you will find my mom’s story is shared by all kinds of New Yorkers. We are in it together.”

Growing up, Dr. Teperman was inspired by his father, a Russian immigrant who became a lawyer, dentist and maxillo facial surgeon. “He dreamed that his children would also lead a life of service. He imbued us with that sense of purpose.” Now Dr. Teperman himself is an inspiration to the students he teaches and trains—as they are to him. “On difficult days, and we have quite a few of those, I am buoyed by their compassion, dedication, wisdom and sense of humor. They inspire me to be a better doctor and a better teacher.”