Power Couple: How the Joneses Are Changing the Medical Field

Alicia Gallegos

November 17, 2021

Medscape's Medical Power Couples is a new series highlighting spouses or domestic partners prominent in healthcare. Both have achieved high-level professional success and have made significant contributions to their respective fields

Frank Jones, MD, MPH, and Jada Bussey-Jones, MD

Frank Jones and Jada Bussey-Jones pose for a picture.

Frank Jones, MD, MPH, recalls the disappointment he felt after twice being rejected to medical schools. On his third attempt, he was placed on a waiting list at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and narrowly made the cut when a spot opened up at the last minute.

Now a professor of surgery at Morehouse, Jones says his discouraging experience inspired him to develop a unique program that helps Black and other underrepresented minority applicants to have more success with the medical school and residency application process. Frank's company, Pre-Med Solutions, gives advice, support, and financial resources to prospective medical school students. The mentorship program has helped more than 30 minority students who went on to enter medical school. 

"While I was struggling, I always said, 'All I need is a chance. If I ever get to med school and make it and become a doctor, I'm going to spend my time helping other students in my boat get to med school,' " said Jones, 58, who chairs the Atlanta Medical Association board. "That was the passion behind me starting the nonprofit consulting service."

His wife, Jada Bussey-Jones, MD, 55, has notably improved another area of medicine often lacking in diversity: faculty leadership. Chief of general medicine and geriatrics for Emory at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Jada has helped build one of the most diverse senior faculties for women and physicians of color in the country. To support career advancement, Jada created a structure that identifies growth opportunities, provides individualized career coaching, and recognizes the achievements of women and underrepresented in medicine (URiM) faculty. 

"Importantly, 50% of our URiM, and 63% of women faculty, have achieved a senior academic rank, including four Black women who have reached the rank of full professor," Jada said. "We are happy to have been recognized for our work at our institution and beyond. I was humbled to be recognized with a prestigious institutional award — Exemplary Teacher of the Year.

"My partner, Kimberly Manning, MD, and I have also been asked to speak about our work in multiple national venues including the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, the Society for General Internal Medicine as well as countless academic and community organizations about our successful structure."

A Whirlwind Romance

The Jones' first crossed paths at a summer program when Jada was in high school and Frank in college. When their roads aligned again a few years later at a social event, Jada made her move. 

"To me, there was a spark, so much so that I gave him my phone number," she remembers. After less than 2 weeks of dating, the couple were talking about plans once they got married, Frank says. He proposed to Jada at an Atlanta comedy club where comedian Rickey Smiley was performing.

Frank Jones, MD, and Jada Bussey-Jones, MD, on their wedding day.

"I called the theater ahead of time and said I wanted to propose to my girlfriend," he said. "Rickey called me up on stage. A lot of people in the audience were our friends and we had our moms there. I called Jada up on stage and proposed. But after that, Rickey made us the butt of his jokes for the rest of the night — and it was a bit raunchy to say the least. It was a little embarrassing to have our moms there!"

Thirty years and two sons later, Frank and Jada are still going strong.

Life: In Their Own Words

What actor or actress would play you in a movie about your life?
Jada: Jada Pinkett-Smith. We have the name-thing going. 
Frank: Spike Lee. People say we look just alike.

What is one food that the other eats that you can't stand? 
Jada: Nothing. He is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. If anything, I wish he would be more adventurous!
Frank: Seafood

If you could change one thing about the other, what would it be? 
Jada: Maybe to be on the same schedule. He is very much a night-owl and I am a morning person.
Frank: I would like for her to not work so much.

What is one quirky thing that you two have in common?  
Frank and Jada: We both love Tik Tok.

What would surprise people to know about you? 
Jada: I was the only girl on a baseball team in a youth league when I was about 12.
Frank: I love to dance, and I love rap and hip hop.

More Successes

In addition to her post at Grady, Jada is also director of education for Emory's Urban Health Initiative and a nationally recognized leader in minority health, health equity and patient/provider communication. Her work has resulted in an award-winning national disparities course, web based educational modules, and two national symposia on disparities at the Society of General Internal Medicine and at the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Frank is a clinical professor of surgery at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, Georgia, and an adjunct associate professor of surgery at Morehouse School of Medicine. He is board chair and a past president of the Atlanta Medical Association, and director of medical services for the Hosea Feed the Hungry Foundation.

"There's no question that being in similar fields makes us stronger," says Frank. "We sit around and strategize. We bounce ideas off each other. We talk through ideas and collaborate."

Alicia Gallegos is a reporter for Medscape Business of Medicine based in the Midwest. She has previously written for the American Medical News, the ACP Internist, and the AAMC Reporter. Contact Alicia at agallegos@mdedge.com  or via Twitter at @Legal_med

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