Women Who Lead
Melissa Jean Bailey-Taylor, DO ’08, RES ’13, MPH, CMD

Clinical Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, and Clemson University School of Health Research; Geriatric Physician, Prisma Health-Upstate Health Science Center
Greenville, South Carolina

Headshot photograph of Melissa Jean Bailey-Taylor, DO ’08, RES ’13, MPH, CMD“I am a family medicine physician certified in both family medicine and geriatrics. I’m passionate about addressing issues of health disparities, equity and inclusion. ... After graduating from Spelman College, I thought it was too late to go to medical school. I decided to pursue a PhD. On my second day of the program, the vice chair of chemistry told me that because I went to historically black college I did not know chemistry, despite doing well academically (in all the sciences—including chemistry) and passing national exams. Instead, I earned a master’s degree in public health, participated in medical mission work, and worked in the survey research field. And I decided to go to medical school and pursue my destiny. From rejection, I resurged. Women, and women of color, may encounter challenges in all kinds of pathways. ... I’ve just completed a program at Furman University, the Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiative, working with leaders from across the state to examine issues related to diversity and inclusion, and to learn more skills in equity and health care. At Prisma Health–Upstate I’m a co-chair of the Transformative Health Institute’s Culture and Inclusion Committee; the Institute is designed to enhance the practice of medicine, reducing burdens and barriers to patient care, decreasing burnout, and increasing team member well-being. ... We’re developing standardized methods to measure work in this field and best practices to change attitudes, perspectives and practices on diversity, equity and inclusion with people both inside and outside the health system. We’re trying to connect the dots among existing groups and entities, building a coalition. ... On the patient side, I’m the physician champion for our Geriatric Medical Legal Program, the first in the state of South Carolina, which is developing best practices to identify and alleviate legal-health-harming barriers for patients and communities. Nicole Davis [PhD] at Clemson University and I got a seed grant to look at African American and Hispanic caretakers of those with dementia. I still see patients. ... My work helps identify and reduce perceived and actual barriers to health care. ... The common thread is that I want to help make individual and population-level changes in health care and well-being.”