Jamelle Bowers is a Hospital Medicine expert in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has been practicing medicine for over 25 years and her top areas of expertise are Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF), Saddle Pulmonary Embolism, Colonoscopy, and Endoscopy. You can reach out to Jamelle on Linkedin.
Key points include:
92-43. Jamelle Bowers
Jamelle Bowers, Will Bachman
Will Bachman 00:02
Welcome to the 92 report conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe, class of 1992. I’m your host, will Bachman and I’m excited to be here today with Jamel powers. Jamel, welcome to the show.
Jamelle Bowers 00:16
Will Bachman 00:18
Well, Jamel, tell me about your journey since graduating from Harvard.
Jamelle Bowers 00:23
Well, I think initially, since I was very young, I was very singular minded in what I wanted to do, which was to be a physician. So I was kind of on that straight pre med track through college. But then, after or towards the end of my first year of medical school, I was not certain that that was really what I wanted to do anymore. And so I took the unusual step of of taking off between my first and second year of medical school, where I worked a little bit in transitioning some records, radiology records, and reports over into digital digitization and kind of explored around a little bit and then decided that there really was nothing else that I wanted to do, and went back to medical school, that next spring and finished. Around the time when I graduated, there was a show called Dr. Quinn, Medicine woman that was on and I decided that I really wanted to go out somewhere where there were less physicians, and really try and prove myself with my clinical skills in an area that had a greater need. So I actually left my fellowship in nephrology, which is kidney medicine, and went out to New Mexico, and worked out there for a few years through 911. And really gained a lot of experience, and then returned back to the East Coast, to Richmond, Virginia. Since that time, kind of 2003 I’ve really been in a combination of medicine and leadership in medicine. So I’ve either been chief of the hospital medicine group, which is what I do have been Chief of Staff, I’ve been in all the different committees in the hospital. And then in my hospital medicine organization, I branched into being a Regional Medical Director. So really more in charge of budgets, staffing, competencies across multiple hospital systems, with different physicians. And that was kind of the start of where, where I’ve been, where, what I’ve been doing.
Will Bachman 03:06
Don’t Paint me a Picture of when you said that you wanted to get, you know, be more independent and kind of test your skills on your own. You went out to Mexico, they do have some cities in New Mexico, they went out, you know, they do have, you know, some big cities there. But Paint me a Picture. I’m just imagining that you were out in a more rural area, Paint me a Picture of your time there. What was the environment? What kind of town or location were you? Were you serving? Yeah, what population.
Jamelle Bowers 03:36
So I was in a small town called Silver City, New Mexico, it’s about halfway between Tucson and El Paso up in the Hilo wilderness. So we were about 10 miles from the Continental Divide, just very beautiful remote country do have a full service hospital. But, you know, a lot of the physicians had to do a lot of the things that sub specialists do in bigger cities. So for example, I would do some more complex cardiac type of work, because anything are cardiologists would fly down from Albuquerque once a week to see patients. So we really had to handle a lot of that on our own. We didn’t really have a GI doctor, so the surgeons did a lot of all of that work. So we did a lot of things and provide those services to the patients in the community, because it just wasn’t there. So, again, not not as remote as a Native American reservation or anything like that, but certainly had to do some things that I applied to do certain procedures when I moved back to Richmond, and they laughed at me because they asked, well, you can’t do that unless you have a cardiology fellowship. And I said, Oh, okay, well, I’ve done you know, 12 cases in the past year. So things that we could get away with because there was there was more need.
Will Bachman 05:06
What’s an example of one of these cases that you that you’re not allowed to do in Virginia, but you just did.
Jamelle Bowers 05:13
So let’s see, we had a patient, a very unusual case where, whenever she would cough, she would pass out. And she had had like a cold a few weeks ago. And then her family brought her in, because every time she would call me, she literally would just pass out and then wake up a minute later. So we put on the heart monitor, it turned out that whenever she would cough, she actually would go asystole. So she would flatline for that period of time kept getting longer and longer, and she would always kind of get her heartbeat back. So what I did was placed a temporary pacemaker in her heart, which is something that in a bigger city, I would not be permitted to do, because it’s typically reserved for cardiology, it’s, I would kind of float it in the pacemaker, and temporarily paste her until we could fly her to Albuquerque, so she could get a permanent pacemaker is very one of those very bizarre type of cases where she needed something urgent, couldn’t really wait to pay somebody, right. So somebody had to do it. And that was something that that we would do until we could get them to the right location.
Will Bachman 06:32
So this is kind of fascinating to me, as a lay person, non doctor, that kind of the cartel in a big city would would kind of prevent people from doing No, no, no, we need a specialist. But in reality, a doctor who is willing to kind of figure it out, can sort of do it, it’s sort of a little bit of an indication maybe of why, you know, health care costs. And so how would you go about doing this? Let’s say it’s a procedure that you haven’t done for, okay, I’ve never installed a pacemaker before. If I was in Virginia, they wouldn’t even let me. So Right. Like, what do you like, go on YouTube? Do you call a friend, you know, call helpline? What, like, a textbook, I mean, like, Okay, I’ll just, you know, look at the man.
Jamelle Bowers 07:24
During your residency training, you know, you’re trained to put in central lines and things like Swan ganz catheters, that’s a, like a wired system that you kind of put in that can take measurements of the heart, you kind of thread those wires to the heart already. And so I already knew how to kind of get the wire there. And then we would bring in what’s called a fluoroscopy machine and, and that would help me with x ray to make sure I was getting to the right spot in the heart, and then you literally could turn on the pacemaker, and you could see it capture the heartbeat. So one of my colleagues, or one of my boss actually had done it before. And he said, you know, this is just stuff we have to do, because nobody else can do it. And he had kind of helped me with the first one a couple years before. And so then it came up. I was the one who was on call. And so I just did it. So it’s, you know, you have to be comfortable with doing other types of procedures to be able to do that. And it’s probably something I wouldn’t attempt. Now, certainly not in Cincinnati, Ohio, right, where we have, you know, a million cardiologists, but if I were ever in that position, again, I would certainly do what was needed, you know, within reason. But, you know, just patients won’t make it if you don’t,
Will Bachman 08:44
then tell me about this trade off of on the one hand, if you are in a big city, right, you might say, well, I want someone who’s a total specialist who does this all the time, and they’re really great at it. And there is an argument for that kind of specialization. But then there’s also an argument to say, well, actually, it’d be great to be seen by a physician who is so horizontal and broad range that they’re capable of doing a lot of different things. And, you know, they that sort of, I can see the advantages of being treated by that kind of position. Tell me about, like the trade off between specialization versus someone who has the full body kind of can do it like the MacGyver kind of doctor,
Jamelle Bowers 09:36
yet. A MacGyver type of doctor is great to have when you don’t have those services, right? Because typically, in those type of situations, the patients are probably going to be more tolerant if there’s a mistake, right? Because there is no one else around. You’re their best chance at helping to save their life until you can get them to the right place. So, but I think you You know, I, for example, my daughter, who’s 15, just had to have a cardiac procedure done, I would only want somebody who’s trained for many years to do that, right? Unless I was in a situation where there was only one person around. So I don’t think I would want me to put in those types of things in a city where I had all of that resource, but it certainly was an amazing experience. And it definitely gives you a lot of self confidence, right? So how did you walk in how did
Will Bachman 10:35
you grow or evolve as a, as a professional having that experience being forced to do things that you wouldn’t even normally be allowed to do?
Jamelle Bowers 10:45
Well, I think, to better quantify that, after the tsunami, that hit Indonesia, and with the end of 22,004. I went to Indonesia to volunteer as part of the International Medical Corps. So I was not the first wave I went in after about six weeks. So because they’re the province where I went, the physicians had all been wiped out because their clinics were more along than the hospital was more along the beach area. And so that was all gone. So we kind of went in just to provide basic health care, and help get them set up for to sustain themselves and provide services that they didn’t have. So because my father is an OB doctor, so he’s retired now, but at the time, he was still practicing. And because we had a satellite phone, I was the OB physician for this whole community. So they were still midwives. So they did all of the easy stuff. And they would call me for the complications. So of which I’m definitely not an OB doctor. I’ve delivered I think, couple babies before that in my life, you know, in medical school, but you do what you have to do right in those situations. And so in this one case, in particular, they call me down to this patient’s house. And the woman was in the middle of having a baby and I said, Oh, great, I can see the head, everything’s going great. And they’re like, no, no, no, baby had been there for one hour. And I’m like, Oh, my God. So the baby, you know, was was stuck. The shoulders were too big. And there was an arrested a descent of the baby. And so I got my dad on the phone. And I had somebody holding the phone up to my ear. And I he was telling me how to reduce and twist the baby’s shoulders to get the baby out of this woman. This is all with no anesthesia, there’s nothing right. And so we were able to get the baby out. And so that was one of the things that to this day, really, really stuck with me. But it was also very sobering because we’re after we delivered the baby and I was finishing taking care of the mom, the baby started grunting and wasn’t getting the best oxygen. So we had to go back to the clinic. So the husband sat on the moped, the grandma sat on the back of the moped holding the baby and I ran alongside the moped back to the clinic, almost three quarters of a mile. And when we got up there, we had one oxygen tank. And there was an old lady who was on the oxygen tank, and I had to go to her family and say, I need this oxygen for this baby. Your mom will not have oxygen, may I have the permission to give this to this baby. And so they said, Of course you know, and gave the oxygen to the baby in the morning passed away in the middle of the night. So it was very sobering but at the same time really empowering like the tech community really pulled together and tried to do what was right with what they had. So it was that I think that was one of the stories that stuck with me the most there’s like a whole bunch of others from that period of time when I was there but it just gave me an appreciation for how little people have they’re grateful for Tylenol right whereas we have this problem with with opiates, you know that exists to this day, but they’re grateful to come out and get Tylenol for their for their tooth that was rotting out. It’s just a whole different perspective and spin on, on how we look at medicine because when we first went over there, we’re all Whoa, you know, we’re gonna get sued, you know, because we’re just kind of winging it. And they’re like, they started laughing. And so no, these people are, are grateful for for anything, because there’s just nothing right now. So it was, it was sobering is very empowering. And when I came back to Virginia at that point, it really gave me a different perspective. And at that point, I really decided not only to still want to practice, but I wanted to try and help lead physicians. And as well as kind of do some more. Not charity work, but more like educational, impactful things like particularly for the minority community. I started kind of shifting what I did for that.
Will Bachman 15:49
Okay, so there’s a bunch of threads I want to follow up on. Yeah. But why don’t we start with that last thing that you brought up? So minority community? What are some of the the work that you’ve been doing related to that?
Jamelle Bowers 16:02
Yet, so every year, third or fourth year, I give a lecture specifically about breast cancer and African American women. You know, while we don’t necessarily have the highest incidence, we certainly still to this day, have the worst outcomes. A lot of it is access, trust, all of those types of issues. And so we just gave a lot of really educational type of information. To the women, the first year, we had 30, people who was on Zoom, the second year, we had 100 people. And this the third year now, we had 150 people on the on this on the Zoom meeting. So really trying to spread the word about education, I would also work in things about COVID. Right, so a lot of mistrust in African American community, particularly about the COVID vaccine. So I talked about one of the pioneers in helping to create the vaccine. She is a black female, so people weren’t aware of that. I said, so you’re encouraging me to take something that that wasn’t just invented yesterday, it’s been in, you know, being kind of piloted and tested for many years. And now it’s being tweaked for, for COVID. And just kind of opening people’s eyes to that. And then at the end of it, I would focus on the products that are specifically marketed towards African American women, and which ones actually are toxic, and can cause medical problems such as ovarian cancer, or breast cancer that we’re not even really aware of. It’s it’s kind of the way things have been marketed to our community. So that’s one of the things I did during COVID. I did a lot of TV, did some radio, even did a little piece with my dad is trying to encourage the minority community in particular, to get vaccinated. And this was again during the first and second way, when we had a lot of people who, who didn’t survive. And did quite a bit of speaking about that. That was, yeah, some of the stuff I did.
Will Bachman 18:29
What are some of the factors that can be addressed? Or that you think, you know, can be changed, we should be aware of that cause worse health outcomes for African Americans in our health care system. I’ve seen some terrible statistics, you could probably correct me, but I think I saw recently that the four women giving birth in US hospitals. Oh, yeah, outcomes for African American women are equivalent to, like, in some cases worse than you’d see in the developing world. Correct? Talk, what are some of the things that are driving that?
Jamelle Bowers 19:13
Access? Number one, that’s, that’s one of the biggest things is access. You know, the same as when if you go to some of the more impoverished communities, there’s no grocery store, right? Or you’ll have, you know, kind of like a 711 type place or Wawa, where that’s really where you can only get your food. The same thing is for health care in a lot of these communities. So you either have to take us, you have to depend on somebody to get a ride, to get out to some places to get health care whether you’re pregnant or not. And at least if you’re pregnant, you can, you know, get health insurance for at least while you’re pregnant. But for a lot of people, you can’t. You don’t your job doesn’t really have health insurance. All right, you know, you’re just kind of living paycheck to paycheck. So the access is limited number one, number two, the trust is still not there. There was an interesting report that came out a few years ago, just about when you’re opening up a medical chart, and you’re reading, the same type of patient from the same community can be labeled completely differently, whether they are African American or white, you’ll see more words like noncompliant, doesn’t show up, didn’t take their medicine, the way we told them to those types of things that you wouldn’t see necessarily a chart of a white person well, when you unpack that they couldn’t afford the medication, but nobody bothered to ask, they tried to call and couldn’t get back into the scene. They didn’t show up for their appointment, because they couldn’t get a ride or they had a job or they had childcare. So there’s a lot of other issues that weren’t appreciated before they were labeled in a chart. So kind of a lot of times, once you start getting labeled in a chart, you can offer less things when you do present. Right. So if I come in with a breast lump, well, you can call and get a mammogram instead of hey, we’re gonna get you scheduled for this mammogram before you leave the doctor’s office. So things like that, you know, and in more minorities tend to fall through the cracks. There are comments made in person to people, they’ve witnessed behaviors to them, that you wouldn’t see necessarily towards others. And again, this is not everywhere, this is not universal. But if you hear that story from your mom, or your grandma, that’s going to resonate with you, and you’re going to continue to believe that that’s what happens to all black people. And that’s not really the case. So via these things are just kind of, it’s a whole systemic thing. System. So all we can do is kind of the best way to do it, honestly, is to have more one on one type of conversations, or smaller groups, where you can really have time for people to ask questions and unpack why some of these issues are the way they are, and to make sure that they have the resources for people who really care and listen and want to, you know, help. Even even with medication, pain medication, a study came out African Americans are offered significantly less pain medication, are more quick to be labeled as drug seeking as compared to others. It’s it’s pretty systemic. So just trying to overcome that with communication and practicing what you preach is the only way but that’s a lot of times why these there’s such disparate metrics.
Will Bachman 22:46
Have you had the experience, maybe when you’re not wearing your white coat of someone making an assumption that you are playing a role at the facility other than a physician?
Jamelle Bowers 23:01
Oh, yeah. It happens to this day. So in my own facility, a few weeks ago, I was working a night shift because my, my current job is vice president of medical affairs. So I’m kind of the liaison between administration and the medical staff. And but I also still practice clinically, and I was helping out working a night shift to help out the team. And I was sitting there at around three in the morning, had my scrubs on I was typing. And this nurse didn’t know me, but she came up and rudely tapped me on the shoulder and said, I need you to get up and come help me change this patient. And I turned around like, we you shouldn’t be speaking to anybody this way, right? And turn around and, and she looked at me and the nurses were like, oh, no, that’s talking about this document. And I said, it doesn’t matter who it is. You don’t speak to people this way. You just don’t. Because honestly, I would have come and help to change the patient. Even though I am a doctor, I still help. I’m not just because I’m a doctor doesn’t mean I can’t help you. But you don’t speak to anyone this way. But it still happens, right? Because I looked like I could have been maybe a tech or a nurse’s aide. It still happens. It’s everywhere. But you know, you you live with me you provide education. So that hopefully doesn’t happen again.
Will Bachman 24:26
What about as a patient yourself? I saw a thread on Twitter recently by an African American physician, talking about how sometimes they have to kind of raise their hand and inform a physician that when they’re a patient, like you know, I am a doctor to have you had that experience where you know, you’re being a patient, they don’t know that you’re actually a doctor and
Jamelle Bowers 24:50
yeah, it’s more with my kids. So one of my children had a really unusual medical issue and And they kept telling me, you need to potty train or use potty trainer well, that there’s something else that’s going on. That’s beyond potty training. But I did what they said initially came back, you just need to do what I’m telling you well, okay, I’m actually a doctor. And I’m telling you something’s wrong with my child. And what I actually need is an ultrasound on look at her kidneys. And they kind of took a step back, and were like, well, I guess I’ll ordered if you if you want me to. And it turned out she had a really significant medical issue that required intervention. But I was trying to do the right thing and not, because I want to see, you know, I try and talk to people the way I would want to be talked to, right. So I don’t talk high level. I don’t dismiss people, you try and listen to what they’re saying, because a lot of what they’re trying to tell you is kind of hidden within their story. And if you already have a judgment, my my child’s not peeing in her pants on purpose. This is not a bedwetting issue. There’s another issue going on, if you’re listening to what I’m saying, after she goes to the bathroom. Five minutes later, she has to go again, and she has an accident. So she actually had a duplicate kidney that was like not working properly. So there was like a real reason why what was going, you know, but but I was just dismissed. And if I were somebody who didn’t know medicine, I would have just gone back home with my child, right? And what happens over time with these types of conditions is that you can lose function of that kidney. So, yeah, and, you know, just, I think that that can happen to anyone. But, you know, it happened to me. They didn’t know who I was.
Will Bachman 26:41
And you’d probably even be like blaming your kid or like, you know, whatever, just right. pursue another thread. Okay, what were you hoping to achieve? And maybe talk to me about some of the things you’re proud of stuff as a medical leader. So you wanted to move beyond being just a frontline practitioner, to also being a leader in medicine? What are some of the accomplishments that you’re proudest of some of the changes that you’ve helped drive?
Jamelle Bowers 27:17
See? Well, I think in this position, that I just, I just started this position in January, so coming up on a year, and when I came into this position, there was a lot of opportunity with metrics, right? So metrics for a hospital would be like this day, you know, how long your patients are staying in the hospital? Infections, right. So what is your rate of infections that you’re having, whether it’s certain types of diarrhea, urinary tract infections, central line infections, so we had a whole bunch of metrics that were kind of in the red, right? Even our mortality was in the red, meaning it looked like a higher percentage of our patients were dying for no reason, or for less reasons than at other facilities. So, you know, I came into this position. Part of it was, for me to take a deep dive into why these numbers are the way they are. And a lot of it right away, I found was documentation. So, you know, as doctors, we don’t like to type a lot, right or dictate a lot, we just kind of put in the bare minimum and we move on, because we’re busy, we have a lot of stuff to do. But if you’re not putting in the right words, the then the people who are coding and documenting and sending these statistics up to the government, it makes it look like you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do. So we corrected a lot of the documentation, we put in some some best practices on infections, right. And every hospital kind of does this, but this is kind of what I specifically did here. We put in some, some parameters and some workflows to help improve some of these infections in our surgical site infections went from pretty significant number last year to we just had one in November this year. And that was all through a combination of documentation using the right word that that people need to see. For the same condition, right, you’re just using the right words that that they need to see the codec correctly. We use this special closing kit when you are closing up a patient. I know you’re tired, take the extra 10 minutes, get this kit close them up correctly. Again, we went from a significant number of infections in 2021 to just won in November. I was really crushed by that one, which we really couldn’t help but we would have been at zero. So again, those are some some types of things that I’m doing now. So now Not only am I kind of operating at a higher level from the metrics, and trying to correct things from from a higher level, but really getting down into the weeds with the doctors, because I can understand right and relate to, I know, I don’t want to do this either. But if you just use these words, it’s going to make things look differently. And, you know, getting that buy in, and then actually seeing the change. So now, you know, the majority of our metrics have gone from red to green. Right? So a lot of change in the past year, it was good to see it was tough in the beginning, like, how am I going to get there, but just focusing on these issues, and talking to the right people getting the buy in, was really great to see in December. So
Will Bachman 30:47
I’m a nerd about these kinds of things. I love the detail here. Let’s, I’d love to hear a little bit more detail about how you actually drove this change. Because, you know, it’s not easy to get people to change their behavior, you need to make sure people understand and are committed to the change, you need to make sure that people have the skills to do it. You need to make sure that people see their boss doing it. And you’d have to have some kind of way of measuring that they’re doing it over time, like what, what are the different things that you did to first just get the physicians and the nursing staff understanding that there was an issue that there was a problem that needs to be addressed? And how did you kind of make sure they had the skills to do it, that they were committed to it that they were, you know, that they saw other people doing it? They’re role models doing it to talk to me about the details of driving this change?
Jamelle Bowers 31:39
Sure, well go back to the surgical site infections. So these are infections, where if you’re a surgeon, and you’re operating on somebody’s in their bowel has ruptured, right? So you have to use one of six words to define what you see when you open up that belly. So if it already looks dirty, right, and you have complications after surgery, it’s not a surgical site infection, right? That infection was already there was present at the time of surgery. And the surgeons weren’t using the six, one of the six words that the coders needed to see, these are the six words that that get registered into the database, right. And so by showing the doctors, here’s your data from last year, here’s your data compared to the other four sites that were comparing you to you got your surgical infections are way up here. I know your skills are just as good if not, if not better than the surgeons. So why is it looked like you have more surgical site infections? So then first, you look at the data and, you know, surgeons got pretty big egos, right? Well, I know I’m a great surgeon, and this isn’t right. Okay. So let’s break down why. And then I had some case examples, right. So here’s the six words that you need to use. Here’s your OP note, from this case where you got dinged with a surgical site infection. Do you see any of those six words? Well, no, this is stupid. I know. It’s stupid. But you got to play the game. Right? This, you have to use these words. So instead of saying that, the abdomen looked hurry, you have to say I saw succulent peritonitis, right, you have to use the words that they want you to use. So I even had a surgeon, the next week use all six words, right? In one sentence. Okay, fine. But the message was there, right. And they didn’t get dinged with a surgical site infection, right. So playing to the metrics, right, so showing them the data from before, and showing how if you just use these six words, no matter how silly, it seems, when you open up the belly, use one of those six words to describe what you’re saying. Then on the back end, everything’s fine. Right? And also, you did really have an infection here. Why, while I was really tired, and I didn’t get the correct closing kid, because I was going to take me an extra 15 minutes, take an extra 15 minutes, even if it’s four in the morning, close the patient up properly, it helps the patient right? It helps you because your numbers look better. And they bought into that. Right. And so they started using those exact numbers. They started using that correct kit in their surgical site infections that they got dinged for went from 11 down to just that one in November. The level is a lot but just just in retrospect, that’s a lot going down to one which is fabulous. And it’s the same patience, the same stuff. You’re just using the correct words to describe what you’re seeing. It’s not that they improved their skills necessarily. Because they’re still doing the same thing with the exception of closing with that that claim kit just by you Seeing the correct documentation, they were able to see that benefit, which is reflected. Right. So a lot of this stuff is publicly reported.
Will Bachman 35:09
You mentioned that you, you made that trip to into Indonesia. Have you continued to do any other sorts of I don’t wanna say extracurricular, but sorts of work like that where you’re either abroad or in your local community, curious to hear about, you know, that range of experience.
Jamelle Bowers 35:31
It’s funny, I was going to go because Hurricane Katrina hit that next few months later, like in the fall, and I was actually going to go there, I actually already gotten permission to take leave from my job. And then that that story was turned out to be not true came out that people were shooting at the helicopters of the doctors and everything. But that was on national news. And my boyfriend at the time, who’s now my husband said, you can’t go. And usually I’m like, You don’t tell me what to do, right? But in this case, I’m like, Okay, right, because of what you see on TV, I certainly don’t want to go somewhere. And, and I put my life in more danger than it already is. And so I didn’t go there. And I’ve always regretted that, but, you know, I understand why didn’t go at the time. But then I started having kids, and then it was a little bit different priority, right? I don’t want to go halfway across the world when I had a baby at home. So my priorities kind of changed. And I started doing more local type things. So I would volunteer my time seeing patients, you know, in a, in a free clinic, I didn’t really have the income. I would do more educational type things, I would go and talk to communities. My mom was teaching a class in Cincinnati, at a technical college, and I would come home and I would help to lecture them on certain health topics. So I focus more on the educational volunteer type stuff. And then now that my kids are growing up more, I do stuff to that volunteer to be, you know, in tune with them. So for example, my oldest daughter is a swimmer. And so I got certified as a USA Swimming, stroke and turn judge. And so I’m able to go to meets and, and wear the uniform and be the official. And now I’m actually an official starter. So I got to start a championship meet. That’s awesome. Yeah, so it’s really cool. And I’m one of I think there’s there’s five African American people in the state of Ohio who are actually doing this type of stuff. So it’s neat, from a perspective of trying to get more minority engagement in swimming. Because there’s money out there, even if because swimming typically is you know, really expensive. But there’s money out there for people who really want to try the sport out, and just helping to, to help open that door. So it was awesome was that during COVID? After they kind of let us get back in the pool. No parents were allowed to any competitions. But since I was an official, I got to go every swim meet. I was always there right on deck to see my child. So that was neat, too.
Will Bachman 38:35
That’s wonderful. Awesome. I want to ask you about Harvard. And we teed this up before we start recording. Yes. You mentioned that you had there was someone who can really continue to resonate with you and had a big impact. Talk to me about that.
Jamelle Bowers 38:53
Yeah, so I ran track, indoor and outdoor all for years, and met some really, you know, amazing people. Good friends that I have to this day, there are running track because again, it’s every day for two to three hours a day plus a lot of weekends in the winter and spring into some of them are still my lifelong friends. But our coaches in particular, Frank Haggerty and Walter Johnson, were just the most hilarious amazing people and I think it’s just because we spent so much time with them every single day is why they resonate with me more than it don’t get me wrong, I loved my my school, I love my educational experience. But they really resonated with us, you know, from a, you know, pushing us to be strong athletes, but at the same time recognizing I’m not coming to school, I’m not coming in PRAK practice because I have my biology exam, right. So, you know, weighing that and, and you know, we traveled to I made the Oxford Oxford and Cambridge trip. So every four years, we would go over there. And then on a two year interval, they would come over here. So I was fortunate to make that combined team that was in 1991. And 1989. Yeah, and we got to go over there in that was, was amazing. That was really amazing. And just being with these, you know, meeting people across the world, who really had never experienced, like, when you’re going to check Northern Irish or not northern parts of Ireland, they’d never really even been around any, any black people. So they would come up, everybody was fighting over who would stay with them, you actually stayed with homes and people’s homes and made some friends that way. And just the coaches that paid they were just hilarious. I mean, to this day, hilarious. And I still have pictures, I show my kids have a running track, it was really, really great, great experience and helps you stay focused, right? Because I don’t know what I would do with that time otherwise. And it definitely helped me to focus more on my studies, because I just didn’t have time after, you know, after practice, to goof off.
Will Bachman 41:25
Did those coaches have any kind of wisdom that have stuck with you, or mantra or philosophy of life or kind of, you know, any, you know, any kind of thing that sort of shaped the way you think about life or go, you know, do your day to day, I’m curious if it any particular things like that, that you kind of, well, he
Jamelle Bowers 41:53
said something that I say to my swimmer to this day, you know, we would stress over me and he’s like, You know what, you really need to relax, it’s not the Olympics. To put our egos in check, because that is true. While while I did run with an Olympian, so Meredith Rainey was my track captain, right. So she went to the Olympics twice, in the 800 meters. But the vast majority of us we were good, but not, not anywhere near what you would see, you know, for NCAA division one. But we sometimes would take ourselves too seriously. And he would really give us that that reality check, which, to this day is just hilarious. And so when my daughter is stressing out, or I see a parent stressing out, you know, like, you disqualified my child, I’m like, you know, it’s, it’s not the Olympics, right? Here’s what, here’s what you did wrong. Here’s what you need to do to correct it. So the next meet, she’ll be okay. You know, people need to sometimes get a reality check and, and just calm down, reflect in and regroup. So I’d say that was one of the biggest things that stuck with me, which
Will Bachman 43:01
I’m always interested for college athletes, what their post college sort of athletic life is like, how has that affected you? Do you still kind of go out and run six times a week? Or, you know, Have you shifted to some other sort of sport, tell me about your well, Physical Culture this
Jamelle Bowers 43:23
when I went to medical school, it shut down, right? There was no time for a lot of that. That being said, I didn’t put on a tremendous amount of weight, but it wasn’t in shape. Like I was in college. I did pick up racewalking, actually, the last few years I really started after I had my kids and said, I’ve got some opportunities with my weight, my weight. So I started getting back in shape, didn’t really want to run, but really got into race locking. And so I’ve now done, let’s say four or five half marathons. And so with the race walking part of it. I placed 661 year seven another year, out of all the walkers for Cincinnati. So you’re talking about like the queen bee, or the flying pig and half marathons.
Will Bachman 44:18
That’s amazing. Now, what is it that you have all this possible sports in the world that you kind of did there? What do you like about race walking?
Jamelle Bowers 44:28
So we had a treadmill of course that was just sitting in the basement for a long time. And I love pro football. So much so that when whenever we bought a house we didn’t make sure like if it didn’t connect to a satellite, we couldn’t move in there. So we lost on a lot of homes because I had to have my my Sunday NFL Sunday Ticket. On Sundays. I would get on the treadmill and walk for three and a half hours right if I didn’t go to the Bengals game with my dad then I would just walk on the treadmill. And then I just started increasing my speed, increasing my speed. And then one of my friends was like, Hey, we should do this race. And I’m like, really, I really increased my speed so and really started training for it. And it’s weird because you don’t really do the running like some people do. Like, they’ll run for a minute and walk for a minute. This is just purely walking. But I was averaging just under an 11 minute mile. So I mean, you’re really, you’re really walking.
Will Bachman 45:33
That as as that’s a pretty swift pace.
Jamelle Bowers 45:38
For the half marathon out of everybody, I would finish in the middle, and I’m just walking out of all the 1000s of people.
Will Bachman 45:46
That must be so dispiriting to someone who’s running and you walk by them.
Jamelle Bowers 45:53
But you look crazy. I don’t think I look as crazy as the ones you see on the Olympics. But it definitely looks different. When you’re, when you’re doing it.
Will Bachman 46:02
I’d be so sad if I trained to run a marathon and then you walked by me walking. But then, you know, you almost need to tell them hey, I was on the Harvard track team, so don’t feel so bad.
Jamelle Bowers 46:20
Then they laugh even more. I didn’t know you guys had sports.
Will Bachman 46:24
Oh, my goodness. Okay. Dr. Jamel Bowers speed Walker. That’s very cool. I mean, and I guess it’s a little bit less brutal on your body. Right. You get the aerobic thing going on and the strength but you’re not beating up your your your joints
Jamelle Bowers 46:40
are intact. Yeah. So yeah.
Will Bachman 46:44
All right. Jamel for folks that wanted to, you know, connect with you reconnect with you follow up or just see what you have going on? Where would you point them online?
Jamelle Bowers 46:56
I’m on Facebook, actually, still, I do do Harvard interviews. I’ve done that every year, almost as I graduated. So I’m in the, whatever the registration is, the registry is the alumni thing with Harvard. My email, if I’m allowed to share that I can share that
Will Bachman 47:17
it’s it’s public, you are welcome to if you want that.
Jamelle Bowers 47:22
It’s out there. But yeah, I’m definitely on Facebook, I’m on LinkedIn, some of the more popular things or through Harvard, you can find my name and get in touch with me. Or they can contact you and you can give them my email. That’s fine as well.
Will Bachman 47:39
All right. So Gmail, this has been such a amazing discussion, hearing about the your activity, the stories you’ve told, great, great hearing about your career, and I am so grateful for you spending time with me.
Jamelle Bowers 47:57
Thank you so much. This was fun, funded to reflect on all this stuff.
Will Bachman 48:03
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