Jacqueline Barnett, DHSc, MSHS, PA-C, has always been driven to promote education, health equity, public health, and public safety for all. She has over twenty-five years of experience as a healthcare provider, PA educator, and administrator. She is a 1994 graduate of the George Washington University (GWU) PA Program. She received her Master of Science in Health Sciences from the same university in 2002, and later her Doctorate in Health Sciences with a concentration in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from A.T. Still University in 2013.
For most of her career, she has either been the only African American, the first African American, or the first PA to serve in a position or to be recognized for an award. While this role of being “the only or the first” has added extra responsibility, she has always looked at it as contributing to her personal growth and her chance to increase opportunities for others. She is currently the program director of the Duke University PA program, the first African American to serve in this role.
Dr. Barnett grew up in Tracy’s Landing, a rural and underserved farming town in southern Maryland. Growing up witnessing the health disparities in her community inspired her to lead a life of service and made her passionate to improve health outcomes for underserved populations. While serving as the Residential Director for Melwood – a non-profit organization which provides personal care, housing and employment opportunities for those with developmental disabilities – she learned of the physician assistant profession. She enrolled in the George Washington University PA Program as a National Health Service Scholar and served in the Public Health Service as an Assistant Health Officer at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Petersburg, VA and as Co-Chief PA at the Baltimore City Health Department through an agreement with the John Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Infectious Disease. She was also one of the early PAs licensed in Washington DC as a Medicolegal Investigator at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington, DC.
Dr. Barnett began the academic leadership chapter of her illustrious career in 2000 as the founding academic director at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore PA Program. Her interest in the position stemmed from the program being in a federal designated health professional shortage area in one of Maryland’s most impoverished counties. It was her hope that through her position she could expand the opportunities for PAs to serve in areas in dire need of health care professionals. She was recruited back to her Alma Mater, GWU, where she served in various roles for over 14 years prior to going to Duke in 2015 as the Associate Program Director and then appointed to her current position in 2018 as the Program Director.
Dr. Barnett has been recognized with numerous awards during her career including: The Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons Academic Achievement Award (1996); the Public Health Service Exemplary Service Award (1996); National Health Service Corps Appreciation and Recognition Award (1996); Baltimore City Health Department Commendation and Recognition Award (1998); Alpha Eta Honor Society Inductee (2004); AAPA Faculty Recognition for Outstanding Student Society – Silver Level Award (2012); The George Washington University, Morton A. Bender Teaching Award (2014); AAPA Faculty Recognition for Outstanding Student Society – Gold Level Award (2014); District of Columbia Academy of PAs Distinguished Service Award (2016); and the Inclusivity Award from the Graduate and Professional Student Council, Duke University (2019). She was honored with the Inclusivity Award for her commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion excellence among graduate and professional students. Dr. Barnett also completed the Duke University School of Medicine Academic Leadership, Innovation, and Collaborative Engagement Program (2017) and was the first PA to complete this program.
Dr. Barnett has been active with many professional organizations, including the American Academy of Physician Assistants – Fellow member, and former Liaison to the National Medical Society; Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants – Reviewer, District of Columbia Academy of Physician Assistants – former Treasurer/Board Member, Physician Assistant Education Association – member, and formerly served on the Finance Council, Journal of Physician Assistant Education – Reviewer, Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant – Site Visitor/Commissioner, and the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants – Affiliate Member.
Dr. Barnett looks forward to continuing her work as a public servant, educator, clinician, and leader. Her mother often told her to “work hard and get an education so that you can help those who don’t have much live better lives.” She has dedicated her life to living up to her mother’s words.
Acknowledgments: This biography was prepared by Michelle Schabowski with the assistance of Dr. Barnett and submitted to the Society April 2019. Photographs are courtesy of Dr. Barnett.