Always Reassess Goals, So You Can Grow And Optimize Meaningful Impact


Jamie Wells, MD


Yale Alumni Health Network

August 2020


Adjunct Professor, Drexel University School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems

Leadership Council, The Wistar Institute

Scientific Advisory Board, Healthe by Lighting Science

Chief Impact Officer, Murphy Cares

Board of Directors, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen

Director of Medicine, Educational Advocacy Nonprofit

Attending & Clinical Instructor, NYU Langone Medical Center Education

MD, Jefferson Medical College

BA with Honors, Yale University

Dr. Jamie Wells is a doer, pediatrician, advocate, innovator and pioneer. From an early age, she wanted to be a brain surgeon. After medical school, she matched into a neurosurgery residency. However, upon starting, Dr. Wells quickly came to recognize the reality was not the dream she imagined. As Dr. Wells made the difficult decision to leave the program compounded by being displaced by 9/11, she was faced with the question of what to do next. Dr. Wells shares with Program Manager, Sharon Mwale, how being adaptable, resisting inertia, course-correcting by letting go of attained goals once they no longer serve you and embracing uncertainty fostered resilience allowed her to grow in other areas outside of medicine.

How has your professional and/or academic experience influenced the way in which you approach entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership? Any specific instances you can share?

As a physician, my red flags always go up whenever I hear from the tech world ‘disruption’ or ‘revolutionary.’ When I was practicing medicine, I was happy 90% of the time and frustrated 10% of the time. That ratio started to shift as I noticed an ever-widening gap between policy and medical practice. In my career, one of the most negatively disruptive technologies was the forced implementation of electronic health records. They were sold as this panacea – access your information wherever, whenever, and however – but, in reality were a glorified billing platform designed to keep systems and patients siloed while marginalizing meaningful patient data. All the while, excluding input from the primary stakeholders (e.g. physician and patient). People who never treated a patient, were making policy decisions that impacted patient lives and care; and, the focus on volume was neither bettering patient care nor safety. So, I quit medical practice to instead use my voice as an educational advocate. I went from seeing patients and being affiliated with three hospitals to doing extensive outreach and publishing over 400 articles – on medtech innovation, drug pricing, Alzheimers, mental health and more – to shine a light on gaps in the healthcare system to inform the public and policymakers.

In starting the Yale Alumni Health Network (‘YAHN’), one of our key strategic goals is to break down barriers between health-related disciplines, be that health law, health policy, public health, medicine, or health media, etcetera. This network brings experts and professionals together to start learning from one another and recognizing the pressures of different environments. I’m hoping that it creates more empathy and inclusion, which are both important to higher quality research, development and innovation in healthcare.

What is your advice to women and what actionable steps can they take as leaders or aspiring entrepreneurs in the health & tech industries?

Throughout my life, I’ve been a pioneer. In grade school, I was in the first co-ed class of graduates from a school with a nearly 300-year history of educating boys. After medical school, I was told I was the only female in the Northeast applying to neurosurgery. At Drexel Biomed, I am thrilled to be helping teach and develop a first of its kind, in the US, Pediatric Engineering Program. Taking such paths isn’t always easy, but I have gratitude for the fortitude I have cultivated in my outlook to see challenges I encounter no longer as obstacles, but as opportunities. Now, when I shock those who underestimated me, it is more fun than frustrating. Helpful advice for other women:

  1. Get rid of ‘the box’. The imaginary box that others try to impose on you, which attempts to limit your potential and imagination for what you can accomplish. That’s their issue, not yours. Don’t waste time taking ownership of their issue. The lesson will be learned soon enough by the example you set and the excellence you deliver.
  2. Go where you are valued. Fight for opportunities but also learn when it’s time to leave because every environment you find yourself in, is not designed to nurture your growth and progress. There is always another, often better, way. Keep it moving.
  3. Gain new skills. Between switching residencies, I took a standup comedy class which enhanced my communications skills and perspective. Knowledge is cumulative and doing things you are afraid to do yields great dividends.

A light and fun question, what is one interesting fact about you we couldn’t learn from Google?

I’m a yes before no person. Learning occurs in every setting if you let it. When I was a kid, I won Nickelodeon’s Double Dare tv game show. I also had the opportunity to be on the Learning Channel where I got to operate heavy machinery. I drove a dump truck through a lake and flattened a car with a bulldozer. I even got to portray myself with actors on a tv show filmed on the set of Scrubs.

Lecky’s Comments:

Self-reflection is not always easy when there is a perception from the outside that one has attained high levels of success. Expectations become murky from the perspective of personal versus professional pursuits. One must be in ‘search of’, for self, as the answers always lie within.

If you would like to recommend a female entrepreneur in healthcare technology to be featured, we encourage you to contact us.

Contact information:

Sharon Mwale       Program Manager        [email protected]

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