WOMEN TO WATCH

Dr. Jerrilyn Jones

Arkansas Department of Health

Individuals and communities. I am blessed to serve both. While wearing my emergency medicine physician hat, I treat individual patients when something in their lives has gone wrong and needs to be fixed. The Arkansas Department of Health allows me to focus on the larger health care system and design ways to instill resilience in communities through prevention and mitigation, before something has gone wrong. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has taught us about the need to do all we can to bolster ourselves against the next disaster.

PRESSING QUESTIONS

How I knew this was my passion

I saw my first seizure while in the second grade and it scared me to death. From that moment, I knew I wanted to understand what was happening to the body and use that knowledge to help comfort others.

Biggest challenges in my career

Mastering work/life balance. I believe it is possible to have it all. I have come to realize though, you can’t have it all at the same time. Every choice made comes with a tradeoff -- some easier to swallow than others.

A skill I never expected to need in this field

Singing! I am not a singer but have repeatedly found myself singing to pediatric patients to help calm them, with adult patients to establish rapport, and to myself to remember things and keep my spirits up while on shift.

Nonprofit I wish more people knew about

Fight Forward is an organization dedicated to registering, educating and protecting new Arkansas voters. It is important that everyone realizes the power of his or her vote and that that power must be safeguarded.

Best career moment so far

Serving my country in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. I didn’t volunteer with a plan to go to war; however, it taught me resilience and provided a camaraderie with the most amazing men and women in uniform I’ve ever met.

What keeps me coming back to my job every day

Making a difference in someone’s life. People don’t visit the ER when things are going well. I usually meet them in crisis. Whether patients need medical intervention or simply reassurance, having them leave with a lighter spirit is incredibly gratifying.

One practice I use to maintain my mental health

Exercise. Sweating is so good for the soul! Studies show that several chemicals released during exercise help boost your mood and ward off depression. My belief in the benefits of exercise led me to become a fitness instructor.

Best advice I ever received

“Allow yourself time to grieve a disappointment. After that defined time, move on.” This gives me the freedom to experience the pain of the present, but prevents me from dwelling there and instead look toward future blessings.

The one thing I wish people knew about my field

Emergency medicine and health preparedness represent starting points for medicine and health systems, respectively. Both are essential, irreplaceable components of healthcare but require the cooperation of multiple disciplines in order to achieve success.

The first thing I do to course-correct when I hit a wall

Pray. Again. While nothing worth having comes without sacrifice, if I find myself hitting too many walls, it's possible that God is trying to convey that the path I am heading down is not where I am intended to go.

IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS

Hometown

Montgomery, Alabama

I can't start my day until

I've had coffee

Hobbies

Dancing

Binge watch

“Law & Order”

Last good read

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama

Favorite meal in town

Chilean sea bass from Bonefish Grill

Best recent local discovery

Buff City Soap

Latest splurge

New furniture

Most-used app

Shazam

Dream vacation

New Zealand

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