Ismene Petrakis, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of Mental Health Services at VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven, has received the 2021 David M. Worthen Career Achievement Award recognizing her as an outstanding health professions trainee education champion whose lifetime contributions have profoundly advanced and impacted the educational mission of VHA.
Petrakis, who also serves as Director of the Yale Addiction Psychiatry Residency, has worked to improve and disseminate best education practices in Addiction Psychiatry and its interface with the new field of Addiction Medicine. She has been invited to serve on numerous national education committees including the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, Research Society on Alcoholism and the American Board of Addiction Medicine.
“Addiction education changed pretty dramatically over the past few decades,” Petrakis said. “Decades ago, many didn’t want to learn about addiction. Now we’ve come to understand it’s really a problem in the brain versus bad behavior.”
In the late 1990s addiction psychiatry was recognized, and in more recent years, addiction medicine has been recognized.
Petrakis has been called on by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) to serve on national panels of board examiners and to author board questions for national written ABPN competency examinations. Her scholarly work, published in prominent academic journals, focuses on educational issues, including curricular design in undergraduate and graduate medical training, which has become a national training model. Her educational initiatives include working directly with trainees, specifically in alcohol use disorders, opioid use disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many of her mentees are now influential educators and researchers across VA.
Petrakis was also instrumental in establishing an agreement with the Department of Defense (DoD), VA and the Yale School of Medicine to train active duty psychiatrists in the VA Connecticut Healthcare System addiction psychiatrist fellowship, meeting a need as DoD does not have an addiction psychiatry residency.
In recognition of her work, Petrakis received the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse New Investigator/Educator Award and the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership Academic Medicine Award from Emerging Leaders in Academic Medicine.