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Women in Leadership: Leigh Elrod & Jeri Lynn Bullock

Every March, Women’s History Month is celebrated in the U.S. and around the world. This year, Women in Health, Medicine, and Science (WiHMS) will be running a series throughout the month that highlights women in leadership positions across the health sciences campus.

We start the spotlight series for Women’s History Month 2024 with excerpts from interviews with Leigh Elrod, D.P.A.S., M.P.A.S., PA-C and Jeri Lynn Bullock, D.D.S.

Continue to come back on our website throughout the month as we honor and recognize these women and learn from their professional journeys and experiences.

Jeri Lynn Bullock, D.D.S. 

Associate Professor

Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, School of Dentistry

Jeri Lynn Bullock smiling in a white coat

What or who inspired you to pursue a career in health sciences? 

Growing up in a rural community with access to care barriers inspired me to pursue a health sciences career. I am passionate about serving communities and individuals who face similar challenges and providing them with high-quality, affordable care.

What are the challenges of being a leader in health sciences?

One challenge that I face as a leader is establishing health boundaries. Too often, I take on projects or tasks without consideration for my current workload or request appropriate compensation for the added duties beyond the scope of expectations. I realized I needed to set boundaries after a burnout episode, which resulted in a mental health breakdown. Thanks to the resiliency center's support, I found the courage to set boundaries for myself and others. I now have a better understanding of my career priorities and a healthier relationship with my workload. This allows me the time to be a more effective leader and to pursue my personal career goals.

What are the highlights of being a woman leader in health sciences?  

I love mentoring, being a role model, and mentoring young women. I believe in the saying that you cannot aspire to something that you do not see. So, I put myself out in communities of kids and young people to talk about my experience and inspire them to pursue careers in health sciences. I love to mentor the SOD pre-doc students to build confidence and stretch themselves to be leaders within the profession and their community.

Please share with us the best piece of advice you have ever received.

The best advice I have received is to spend your network capital. As you build a network of acquaintances and colleagues, be proactive in staying in contact and using them as resources throughout your career while being a resource for them. It could be connecting you with someone else within their network, sharing best practices, or using them as a reference for a promotion or job application. Don’t just bank this network capital but spend it.

Leigh Elrod, D.P.A.S., M.P.A.S., PA-C

Associate Professor (Clinical)

Chief, Division of Physician Assistant Studies

Don Pedersen Endowed Chair in the Division of Physician Assistant Studies

Medical Director, South Main Clinic Family Medicine Service

Leigh Elrod smiles in a blazer in front of a portrait backdrop

What or who inspired you to pursue a career in health sciences?

Growing up without health insurance and watching my family navigate the health care system inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. My sister has a physical disability, and we did not qualify for affordable health insurance due to her pre-existing condition. This taught me a lot about how complicated the health care system is in the US and how it disadvantages many people.

What are the highlights of being a woman leader in health sciences?

Inspiring other women and other underrepresented persons to consider roles in leadership and to see themselves as a leader.

In all honesty, I do not see myself as a leader. I see myself in a role of serving those that work with me and creating opportunities for people to be successful and fulfilled by the work they do. I am so grateful to be in this role.

Please share with us the best piece of advice you have ever received. 

Never ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do yourself.