Date: March 24, 2022
- What do you want people to know about you? Describe yourself in 6 words.
Dr. Melanie Shorter Jones- I am definitely a physician. I am an educator. I’m a community servant. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. And probably most importantly, I’m a child of God.
Tell us your name, your business name or industry, location and description. Why are you in this field? How did you get here?
Dr. Melanie Shorter Jones- I think medicine is really a field that evolves. And it changes from day to day from month to month and year to year. Initially, I didn’t even want to be a physician, I wanted to be an architect. And I wanted to be a mathematician, whatever that meant at that time of my life. I wanted to be a dentist. But as I grew and I started thinking about my life and what I could do for the community, for my family, for just those that I know, I really wanted to positively affect the health and well being of my community.
- What was your single biggest challenge in running your business or working in your industry throughout the pandemic?
Dr. Melanie Shorter Jones- Personally, the issue of trying to balance my personal life with that of providing quality health care for my patients. And by that I mean, in a pandemic, of course, we’re exposed to everything. As a frontline health care worker. We don’t know what’s coming into our office, we don’t know who we’re going to come into contact with. We don’t know what they have. And at this point, you start to feel afraid. To be perfectly honest, you feel vulnerable. You want to help the person but at the same time you’re thinking well, if I give too much of myself and I put too much into this, is my family going to suffer? Am I going to expose my family to COVID-19? So in the initial months of the pandemic, I would come home in my scrubs, I stopped even wearing professional clothes like I have worn for my entire career. I purchased scrubs and I started wearing those because I didn’t want to bring anything home even on my clothes, and I would come in my garage and change my clothes before I came in the house. I would go shower. You know, I didn’t want my kids or my husband to even come near me, initially. But then, as I went back to work the next day, I couldn’t be afraid to touch my patient and interact and speak. And you cannot take care of a patient without putting your hands on them or, you know, being in close enough contact to have a conversation, or all of those sorts of things. Where you are exposed. So finding that balance of being a quality health care provider, along with still giving my family what they need and not isolating myself from them. That was the biggest challenge for me personally.
- Like the Elton John song, you are still standing. Where does your resilience come from and how do you tap into it?
Dr. Melanie Shorter Jones- You know my mother and you did not know my grandmother? Well, it happens to be your husband’s aunt and grandmother. I think those two women for me have been the biggest inspiration. And of course, no slight to my dad. He knows I love him dearly. I’m a daddy’s girl. But when you’re a girl, and you’re a woman, you really look up to your mom and your grandmother. My mom was one of the first African American administrators in her area of Southwest Georgia. She blaze her own trail. My grandmother, as you will know, where can I even begin with her? Someone who initially did not have a college degree when she was married and had my mom and your father in law, but managed to go to college for many summers to get her undergraduate degree at a time where women of color just were not expected to do that. And then to raise my mom and my uncle, and here they are at retirement age, and now we have three grandchildren, of which I’m one medical doctor, your husband, who’s an attorney, and your sister in law, who has a PhD. As a Rhodes Scholar, how can you top that? I mean, I can’t talk things in my mom and my grandma had done, but they lived in a time that things were a lot more difficult. So I don’t have a reason to say I can’t. I don’t have a reason to give up when the times are different. The resources are greater, the opportunities are bigger. There’s absolutely no excuse that I have or not being able to withstand anything.
- Any mistake you made that you want to prevent others from making?
Dr. Melanie Shorter Jones- As a woman of color in medicine, you have to never underestimate your worth. There are times when nobody says anything in particular that may make you feel unworthy. There’s imposter syndrome we talk about a lot in terms of should I be here? Am I worthy? Should I be in this space with these people at this time? We have to remember the things that we want to say that we want to convey to others. There’s a place for that. And we should never underestimate the worthiness of what we have to say and what we have to contribute. There was a time, particularly in medical school, and in my internship and residency, where there were situations where I felt like I just didn’t say anything. I just need to melt into the background. I just need to not mention and don’t stand out. Don’t Ask Don’t make a comment. And the culture, particularly in medicine, is a male dominated industry, but it’s slowly becoming filled with more and more women. And of course, it was typically majority, white males. Now you see all kinds in medicine, you see all ethnicities, you see all religions, you see all ages, and I started practicing when I was 29. And oftentimes, I was mistaken for not a physician, and definitely not somebody who was needing to be unsupervised. They would say where’s your supervisor, or are you a student or are you a resident? You know how to take that. So you don’t want to come across as super aggressive, but you have to know that what you have to say is important. And doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the loudest person. But you have to feel like you are important and you are worthy. And you don’t have to be small to make somebody else feel large.
- Each one. Teach one. Suggest a book, song, course, program for our listeners.
Dr. Melanie Shorter Jones- I don’t know if you’ve heard of the masterclass series. So I purchased it for my son because he loves basketball. And he said, I’m going to watch Steph Curry and then I’m going to go to the NBA when I’m 21. So I’ll watch this master class. I’ll be awesome. Oh, my daughter said, what about me? Well, Misty Copeland had her dance class, and I purchased that for her. So in the meantime, my husband’s thinking, Do you love the kids and where are you? I am thinking okay, I’ll get you Gordon Ramsay because he thinks he’s a chef at this. Point. I believe it’s the reverse and I thought about myself last, but I bought myself to Elaine Welteroth, she’s awesome. And I’m only about halfway through hers. But the one that I did complete already was Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx. And finding your purpose and just listening to her story of how she went from you know, nothing to like these billion dollar company. You think? Is this possible? Somebody? Somebody actually did this and when she tells you how she pretty much wore down these people with her product and New York to California back and forth and just put her things out there. And before you know it, she’s at the top of her game, and you listen to people speak like that who come from just regular ordinary beginnings. You feel like, Oh, I’m able to do that as well. I haven’t. Actually she has and I’m not going to underestimate myself because I can do what she can do. so that masterclass series was awesome for me. And one other thing I did was read this book, Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim. And he seems to put things in a situation where instead of you competing in the current market, you should create your own market, like what you do. You didn’t compete with anybody else. He said, I’m gonna do something totally in my own lane. So I’m the only one I’m not competing with everyone else. And instead of beating the competition, make the competition irrelevant. There, you’re gonna win, you’re always gonna win. And just employ those strategies as I move forward. And now that medicine has changed even more since the pandemic with there’ll be more virtual options. You know, it makes me realize that there’s a lot more to do and a lot more things that we can accomplish in our field to reach those people who were unreachable at one point. may not come to see me in the office, but I’m staying hopeful and knowing that in this new era, there are some things that we have profited knowing that we can do things virtually, if we have to, we can reach the people who were unreachable initially, and that we do have hope to see something change in the future.