Emil Zamora a Role Model for Residents

Journal of Psychiatry Reform Vol 9 #18. December 7 2022

Alan Eppel MB, FRCPC


In this edition of the Journal of Psychiatry Reform we have reprinted an article from the McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences Newsletter about  Emil Zamora who has established the Dr. Emil N. Zamora, Kathy Zamora and Family, Excellence in Psychiatry Award for residents in the McMaster psychiatry residency program.

I had the great fortune of having Emil as my clinical supervisor during my first year residency at McMaster in 1974. It was a very different era then. Emil was the lead psychiatrist for the consultation liaison service at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He was also a staff psychiatrist on the Liaison unit established by Dr. Isaac Sakinofsky.

The Liaison unit was an eight bed short stay for patients who had made a suicide attempt requiring admission. The unit was jointly staffed by psychiatry and internal medicine. This was a unique collaboration.

I learned from Emil a number of critical skills: firstly dictate consultation notes immediately! I was impressed that while we were busy doing consults on the inpatient units  Emil would pickup a phone and dictate the consult note with no pauses and no revisions!

While doing comprehensive assessments of individuals who had made suicide attempts Emil displayed an exemplary combination of abilities as a psychopharmacologist and as a psychotherapist.

For many years he was the mainstay of the ECT program, a life-saving treatment for those with profound depression. Of historical note he had been first author of an article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1965 comparing memory effects in unilateral and bilateral ECT [1].

Emil has been role model for generations of residents. He demonstrated a direct an open style of communication and authenticity when speaking with patients. He was supportive but also frank when difficult topics had to be addressed. He worked hard and never said “no”.



[1] Zamora E.M, Kaelbling R. Memory and Electroconvulsive Therapy. Am J. Psychiatry: 122 p546-554.Published online: Apr 2006. https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.122.5.546

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