Yale Alumni Health Network
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:
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.
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