A leading authority in ICU-related depression and PTSD, Jim Jackson’s skills have proven especially critical to helping patients during the pandemic
"The last year has been so traumatizing and hard, but to use the skills and knowledge that we have been developing to good effect in the service of others during this difficult season has been meaningful.”September 1, 2021
Photo by Erin O. Smith
James C. Jackson, PsyD, is one of the world’s leading authorities on depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems that can follow treatment of critical illnesses, including COVID-19, in the intensive care unit (ICU).
The director of Behavioral Health in the ICU Recovery Center at Vanderbilt also is a beloved member of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center community. To honor the depth of his service and commitment to his colleagues, clients and their families, Jackson was given a Credo Award during the August 2021 virtual Leadership Assembly.
Jackson, research professor of Medicine and lead psychologist for the Critical Illness, Brain dysfunction and Survivorship Center at VUMC, “fosters a work environment full of kindness and authenticity,” the center’s research coordinator, Patsy Bryant, MS, wrote in her nomination letter.
“He’s an incredible clinician and a huge role model for his mentees,” added Christina Boncyk, MD, assistant professor in the Division of Anesthesiology Critical Care Medicine. “He … goes above and beyond to use his knowledge to improve the lives and careers of others.”
“As a teenager,” said Jackson, “I had a poster on the wall that said, ‘I will be ready, and perhaps my chance will come.’ The last year has been so traumatizing and hard, but to use the skills and knowledge that we have been developing to good effect in the service of others during this difficult season has been meaningful.”
For more than 10 years Jackson, a VUMC faculty member since 2003, has led support groups and collaborated in interventional research aimed at relieving the cognitive impairment and psychological distress experienced by many patients months to years after being treated in the ICU.
When the pandemic hit, he helped establish a Cognitive Skills Group for patients discharged from the COVID-19 ICU and a COVID Caregivers Group for their spouses and other caregivers.
He also encouraged his colleagues to share — as a release valve — their experiences with each other, while leading a variety of webinars related to stress management and coping for international medical societies.
“He is a shining example to all of us,” wrote Aimee Hoskins, RN, BSN, research nurse in the ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Study Group, “about how we should treat our patients, their families, our community and each other.”
If you are a VUMC employee, you can nominate a colleague for an Elevate Credo Award, Five Pillar Leader Award, or Team Award. Visit the Elevate website to fill out a nomination form. Employees demonstrate credo behaviors when: they make those they serve the highest priority; respect privacy and confidentiality; communicate effectively; conduct themselves professionally; have a sense of ownership; and are committed to their colleagues. Elevate award nominations are accepted year-round. If a nomination is received after the cut off for an award selection period, the nomination will be considered for the next period. VUMC Voice will post stories on each of the award winners in the weeks following their announcement.