Meet Jillian Ligon Bowers…A Public Health Program Administrator Dedicated to Creating Change Through Research

Meet Jillian Ligon Bowers…A Public Health Program Administrator Dedicated to Creating Change Through Research

by Javaughnae Malone May 01, 2022 429

National Minority Health Month (NMHM), is a time to call attention to and raise awareness about the vast health inequalities that continue to affect people across racial and minority groups. It’s also a time to encourage collective action through health education, early detection, and control of disease complications.

The 2022 NMHM theme this year is ‘Give Your Community a Boost!’ We give our community a Boost all month long by highlighting black professionals who lead the way in the healthcare industry.

Today we share Jillian Ligon Bowers’s journey through healthcare as a healthcare leader advocating and saving lives through her work as a Public Health Administrator.

Jillian Ligon Bowers, MPH, is a Public Health Program Administrator for the University of South Alabama’s All of Us Research Program. The program is a biomedical program laser-focused on understanding how our unique differences genetically, environmentally, and behaviorally play a role in improving health research and medical breakthroughs in our overall health.

As she’s fondly called, Jill describes herself as passionate, hard-working, and energetic, all of which are qualities she employs on and off work. She can also often be heard saying, “Life has no limitations except those you make.”

Getting Into the Healthcare Industry

Mrs. Bowers has always had a love for science since elementary school. As she grew up, she mixed that passion with her inherent love for people; “these were the two things that I believe steered me towards the healthcare field.” Simply put, “as an individual, she went into the healthcare field to help others improve or maintain their health through; prevention, diagnosis, treatments, and yes, even cure of diseases.”

Challenges/Motivation/Mentors and Hopes

Jillian notes that there are many challenges in the healthcare industry. Jillian observed a significant challenge due to; “generations of racism and mistreatment at the hands of medical professionals, which left many minority communities distrustful of the healthcare system.” She says, “This distrust of the healthcare system is a challenge the All of Us Research Program has had to contend with in convincing people to take part in the program.”

She further notes that the All of Us Research Program truly has the community’s best interest in mind. The program is committed to recruiting participants from diverse groups traditionally left out of research in the past. All of Us program recognizes that healthcare is more effective when people from all backgrounds are part of health research.”

The Public Health Program Administrator remarks that this research program is different because; “it is guided by core values such as transparency, diversity, and keeping participant information secure. At the end of the day, the program does NOT work for All of Us unless it includes YOU too!” She hopes that; “our community will see the value in participating in this program and understand the long-lasting benefit – individualized treatments (precision medicine) – in generations to come.”

Minorities Advocating for Their Health

Mrs. Bowers notes that “advocating or speaking up for your health is extremely important for everyone and, even more so, for minority communities.” She explains that “because minorities lag behind whites on almost every measure of quality healthcare (i.e., access to care, access to insurance, poor health outcomes, and so much more), self-advocacy is one way to improve health outcomes for minorities.” ‘Self-Advocacy includes prioritizing your health, researching your symptoms, and monitoring your body, communicating your concerns to your healthcare provider, asking questions during the visit, taking advantage of free screenings, and opportunities to learn more about your health. Do not let insurance companies dictate health outcomes, and you owe it to yourself to always get a second opinion, she affirms.

Is Health Equity Necessary?

For Mrs. Bowers, “health equity means that every individual has an equal opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. People’s race, economic circumstances, sexual identity, or gender should not affect their access to such basics as healthy food or proper medical care, nor should anyone’s geographic region determine the level of health education available to them.” Sadly, she remarks, “These factors influence our nation’s disease rates, life spans, disabilities, and mortality rates. We call these factors-Social Determinants of Health.”

She further cites, “available research suggests that social determinants of health factors play a role in about 30% to 55% of health outcomes. Learning more about participants’ living environments and life experiences could explain why some people stay healthy, and others have an increased risk of illness and disease.” One of ‘The All of Us Research Program’s major goals is to collect this information from its participants to understand better factors that contribute to health and well-being.”

In addition, she observes, “equity and efficiency can go hand in hand in healthcare delivery. Offering equitable health care leads to more efficient healthcare systems overall, as a healthier population requires less medical care. That means fewer doctors’ visits, less healthcare spending per patient, and better health outcomes.”

A Young Person of Color Interested in the Healthcare Industry – 

“When you have your health, you have everything. When you don’t have your health, nothing else matters.” Mrs. Bower counsels’ young people of color interested in going into healthcare; “You have the chance to shape how quality healthcare should look for you and those that look like you. Make it count!”

Summing up

If you are interested in shaping the future of medicine, visit https://www.joinallofus.org /USA or download the All of Us Research Program mobile app.

Thanks so much, Jillian Ligon Bowers, for sharing your healthcare journey with Vivian’s Door. We applaud you for your work and the work you will continue to do to create change in healthcare! Be sure to follow Vivian’s Door for more inspiring stories!