Dr. Sidney Hankerson, the recipient of the Vanneck-Bailey Scholar award, is shown.

Sidney Hankerson, MD, Gets Vanneck-Bailey Award from VP&S Apgar Academy

Sidney Hankerson, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S), is the 2019-2020 recipient of the Vanneck-Bailey Award from the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators at VP&S.

The award is given annually to a VP&S faculty member to support the development of educational programs that help medical students improve their knowledge and skills in the practice of medicine so they can model compassionate, humanistic care to all patients.

That’s right up Hankerson’s alley.

“Medical education has been my passion since residency,” Hankerson told CUIMC Today. “The Vanneck-Bailey Award will allow me to build upon the small group seminar called ‘Access and Advocacy’ that I currently teach to all VP&S first-year students. I am truly humbled and ecstatic to receive this prestigious award.”

The award provides $30,000 in salary support, which will enable Hankerson to devote time to developing a four-week, community-based educational elective for third- and fourth-year medical students. The elective will focus on the social determinants of health and community engagement. Students will learn from community health workers and other local stakeholders about how to advocate for social justice in health.

Hankerson also plans to train a cohort of medical and nursing students in an evidence-based program to increase their mental health literacy to reduce stigmatizing attitudes that some health professionals may hold toward people with mental illness.

More applicants than ever before applied for the competitive award this year. Hankerson’s application stood out for several reasons, said Rita Charon, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, chair of the Department of Medical Humanities & Ethics, founder of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia, and director of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators.

“He is a young and already influential investigator in the Department of Psychiatry who has taken on the most pressing and challenging questions about social justice, racial diversity, and equity—or lack thereof—in tandem with the other urgent questions about stigma for patients with mental health problems. He has assembled a tremendous body of work,” Charon said.

She noted that much of Hankerson’s work was performed in collaboration with community groups and churches in Harlem and Washington Heights. In addition, Hankerson’s work has been funded by the NIH for many years, and he was mentored by Myrna Weissman, PhD, chief of epidemiology at New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Diane Goldman Kemper Family Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry at VP&S.

And to top it all off, Charon added, “He’s got this ravenous appetite for teaching young medical students. So all of that, together, makes him really worthy of great praise and support.”

Hankerson earned his MD and MBA from Emory University School of Medicine. He did his internship and residency at Emory and completed his fellowship at Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian.

The Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators is an active community of VP&S educators who are dedicated to promoting, rewarding, and supporting outstanding education for the college’s medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty. The academy is named for Virginia Apgar, MD, a pioneering clinician, researcher, and educator who developed the now-ubiquitous Apgar score, a method that is used to quickly assess the health of newborns.

The Apgar Academy offers ongoing educational resources to the VP&S community, including faculty coaching, grant programs for innovative medical education projects, and rigorous training in basic medical education scholarship and research skills.

The Vanneck-Bailey Award was established in 2014. Funding is supported by donations from patients of Columbia doctors.