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Doctor to Speak on Healthcare Equity at MLK Convocation


Jenny Tsai is a resident in emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, which would appear to be more than enough to fill one’s day. But she does not stop there. She’s an activist, an educator, and a writer with the goal of advancing health equity and anti-racism in medicine.

On Monday, January 16, Dr. Tsai will speak to the school community in the Olcott Center as part of a weeklong program at Loomis Chaffee surrounding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968. King advocated for equity in all aspects of life, and the theme this year is equity in healthcare.

Ashley Augustin, the school’s chief diversity officer and director of the Center for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), said that she hopes Dr. Tsai’s presentation gives the students a heightened level of empathy for others.

“I’m hoping they not only get that, but also are able to look at — not just health care — but other topics with a lens of equity and what voices are being included and what voices are not being included,” Ashley said. She also hopes students consider “information we receive from media or news, where are those ideas coming from, because they can be biased, so having a critical eye on things is important.”

Disparity in healthcare is a subject about which Dr. Tsai is passionate, and that rubs off on others. Courtney Jackson, associate director of DEI, has known Dr. Tsai since each was at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Tsai attended medical school at Brown University, where she also earned a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies and human biology. She earned a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“I met Jenny through a mutual friend, who brought her to a gathering at my apartment,” Courtney said. “I remember Jenny being warm and friendly, and really funny. I laugh a lot whenever I spend time with her. At some point, she read a poem she was working on for one of her classes. Everything went silent. We were mesmerized. I don't even remember what her poem was about, but it was beautiful and left me awestruck. I remember thinking, ‘Whoa. Who is this, and how do I get to know her better?’”

Courtney said Jenny “spends a lot of time thinking about care and how we can care for others better. ‘Better’ for all of us at the Harvard Graduate School of Education often includes equity. Speaking with Jenny about her work helped me think more deeply about my own and how I wanted to engage in DEI work at my next school, which ended up being Loomis.”

Since they graduated from the master’s program in 2018, Jenny has to inspire Courtney.

“Through her writing, speaking, advocacy, and Twitter account, she reminds me that fighting for equity at the individual and systems levels is necessary, and that one of the most impactful and profound things we can do is care deeply for others,” Courtney said.

Dr. Tsai was on the Forbes list of “30 under 30” in the field of healthcare for 2022. Forbes writes that “her research has uncovered harms of race-based tools like kidney function tests, racial differences in opioid addiction treatment and other ways medical techniques perpetuate healthcare disparities.”

After Dr. Tsai speaks to the Loomis community, students will meet with their advisors to talk about her presentation. There also will be student performances in music, dance, and the spoken word in the afternoon. These range from individual to group performances. 


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