Danielle Jackson, MD, MPH, a fourth-year resident in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, was among the recent honorees who received the “Top 2020 Health Professional Under 40" award from the National Medical Association (NMA).
Jackson received the award in a ceremony at the NMA’s 2020 convention, which was held virtually July 31 through Aug. 4. New York Times bestselling author Stacey Abrams and Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, were guest speakers at the convention.
“It was an honor to win, but it’s made my resolve to continue to my work even more strong,” Jackson said. “Winning an award is never the pinnacle of achievement, in my opinion — it’s merely the catalyst to keep doing the work of being a change agent and advocating for health equity in minoritized communities.”
A North Philadelphia native and first-generation college student, Jackson is a graduate of the inaugural cohort of the Recognizing and Eliminating disparities in Addiction through Culturally-informed Healthcare (REACH) program, a collaboration between the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP), the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and Yale, aimed at improving the number of addiction specialists from racial and ethnic backgrounds, who are adequately prepared to take care of racial and ethnic minority patients with substance use disorders..
“Danielle is a burgeoning leader in integrating an anti-racism lens into addiction treatment — a necessary and important tool in eliminating behavioral health disparities,” said Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and Director of the REACH program. “She has a great command of the literature and will undoubtedly change the way addiction treatment is taught and provided. I am so glad to welcome her as a new PGY-4 resident at Yale, and as the new resident co-director of the Social Justice and Health Equity Curriculum, where I serve as director. Danielle is a star, and I am glad she is being recognized in this manner, from one of the most prestigious medical organizations.”
Jackson recently transferred to Yale after beginning her psychiatry residency in another program. She is a 2013 graduate of Howard University College of Medicine, and had previously completed four out of seven years as a surgery trainee before deciding that psychiatry was her true calling.
“That change really came out of the research I’d done in subsequent years looking at health care equity, outcomes in minoritized populations,” Jackson said. “It was witnessing those inequities as I was caring for patients suffering from unaddressed trauma, depression, and anxieties which really sparked my change in training.”
Jackson became interested in addiction psychiatry after inpatient rotations and working in the emergency room with patients with primary substance use disorders, and substance use and mental health conditions, and learning about the inequities surrounding addiction treatment.
She was drawn to Yale Psychiatry because of the residency program’s mission of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as the Department’s Social Justice and Health Equity Curriculum (SJHE), of which Jackson serves as this year’s co-director.
“I hope to put a spotlight on antiracism work in medical education — in particular, anti-Black racism in addiction psychiatry, and in the history of psychiatry overall,” she said.
Jackson was accepted into next year’s Yale Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, and was also recently accepted to the Harvard Macy Post Graduate Medical Education course for future academic clinician educators. This year’s program will be conducted virtually from Dec. 12-14.