By Amanda Manning Markow, UMMC Division of Public Affairs
Dr. Jessica Bailey (BS 80) always knew she wanted to be in health care, but education wasn’t originally in her career plans.
Honored as Alumnus of the Year during SHRP Alumni Day on March 24, the dean of the School of Health Related Professions and chair of health administration at UMMC started out as a UMMC Health Information Management graduate in 1980.
Her path took her back to UMMC when Becky Yates, former chair of HIM, called her about a position.
“Of course, I thought of her,” said Yates. “I was thrilled she would even be interested.”
Bailey started as an assistant professor of Health Informatics and Information Management in SHRP in July 2003. After almost four years in SHRP, she moved into the role of director of education for the Department of Medicine and then director of education for the Graduate Medical Education office.
While working with the Department of Medicine, Bailey developed and supervised a program that placed medical students and residents with clinics in rural parts of Mississippi. Fourth-year medical students and residents would work in these clinics for a month and keep a detailed journal on their experiences.
“Students would come here for school, and their primary training was in this metropolitan area. They weren’t getting a picture of what rural medicine was like,” said Bailey. “It was such a rich experience. All students who did it came back enlightened.”
When she returned to SHRP in 2012 as interim dean and then dean of the school, Bailey had a clear focus.
“SHRP was going through a bit of an identity crisis. People didn’t know who we were,” said Bailey. “One student even said to me he thought our building was the day care.”
“My goal was to make us known across campus, and it was advantageous that I had been in the Department of Medicine and GME.”
Bailey’s impact as dean of SHRP has been felt, Yates said. “She has done a lot to help it be integrated into UMMC as a whole. She’s raised the standards of quality, professionalism and academic achievement for students.”
Bailey served as the faculty sponsor for the dissertation of Dr. Lisa Morton, professor of health informatics and information management.
Bailey was most helpful in connecting Morton to physicians across campus, and she continues to do that for the school as a whole, Morton said. “She’s done a lot for SHRP as dean. She’s a supporter of students and faculty and has maintained good ties and relationships across campus.”
The Philadelphia native was the only person in her family who didn’t immediately go into teaching, but that didn’t last long. After taking a job as director of HIM of Doctor’s Hospital in Jackson, Bailey taught a night class in HIM at Hinds Community College and soon realized she sometimes loved her night job more than her day job.
After six years at Doctor’s Hospital, Bailey and her husband, Ty, moved to Topeka, Kansas, and she became the director of Health Information Technology at Washburn University.
“I loved that job,” Bailey said. “That’s where I found out I really loved teaching and being with students.”
While in Topeka, she started working toward her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at Kansas State University. When her husband was transferred to Columbia, Missouri, halfway through her program, only nine of her credit hours were accepted at the University of Missouri. It didn’t slow her down, though.
While they were in Missouri for 10 years, Bailey worked four part-time jobs at local colleges and was raising her two sons while also completing graduate school.
A group of graduate school friends would meet regularly at a local brewery, and often the conversation led to their dream jobs. When she was posed the question, her answer was clear.
“I told them I would love to go back to UMMC and teach there. I never dreamed it would become a reality,” said Bailey.
In addition to making SHRP more visible across campus, Bailey was also a major promoter of the “Collaboratory” in the SHRP building.
The Collaboratory was an old lab that has been converted into an interactive, high tech, multipurpose room. It incorporates interprofessional education opportunities, active learning and the flipped classroom concept.
“People my age compare it to being on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise; students usually compare it to the Apple store,” Bailey said. “There are large mounted screens, and everything in the space is movable.”
SHRP uses it for interactive learning and collaboration between students and faculty and among students across SHRP disciplines. Through the use of 12 interconnected computer displays and small group workspaces, the classroom provides space for technology-laden lectures or group projects on research topics.
John Farrish, health information management director of UMMC Grenada and Holmes County, that Bailey has made a difference for SHRP.
“She’s a forward-thinking leader,” he said. “She makes decisions that are best for UMMC’s future and not just the here and now.”