sNAPAshots: Joshua Liggett

This entry is part 3 of 22 in the sNAPAshots section
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Interviewer 0:00
[On screen] sNAPAshots Conversations with professional Practicing and Applied Anthropologists NAPA Logo The National Association for the Practice of Anthropology

Learn how a transplant Data Analyst from the University of California San Diego applies anthropology to qualitative analysis in health research. Let’s meet Josh Liggett, applied anthropologist and transplant data analyst.

Joshua Liggett 0:31
My name is Joshua Liggett. I am a multi ethnic gay male. It’s short, dark brown hair, hazel eyes, wearing a dark teal button down shirt and a progress LGBTQ flag pin. My background image is that a UCSD San Diego’s California Notify program

Interviewer 0:54
How did you to get into anthropology and what is your subfield of practice?

Joshua Liggett 1:01
Well, this is actually kind of a funny story. I am a bit of a Trekkie. So growing up my childhood here was Jean Luc Picard, captain of the Enterprise D and E respectively. And in the show, he’s portrayed as a physicist and an anthropologist, I did try my hand at physics, did not do spectacularly and discovered I am a better anthropologist.

Interviewer 1:37
How has the anthropological perspective or training enhanced your contribution to your workplace?

Joshua Liggett 1:45
It’s really helped me be a better chameleon, and transition from industry to industry. My first real-real job was in behavioral health. And then from there, I took a job assessing LGBT communities in the Central Valley, which is not necessarily known for being pro-gay area of California.

Interviewer 2:16
Tell me a moment that changed the way you practiced anthropology.

Joshua Liggett 2:20
It was definitely a a period of groups rather than even just a singular moment, you know, coming to terms with the idea that, you know, I wasn’t necessarily going to be, you know, studying some population in some some historical practice or anthropology. But, you know, being an anthropologist, you know, studying things that solve real problems for real people, you know, that’s anthropology. And so I can take that with me wherever I go. So wherever I go, whatever I do, you know, I can make it anthropology.

Interviewer 3:02
What types of industry challenges or problems do you get to help solve with this anthropological lens?

Joshua Liggett 3:10
I like to, and I get to solve a lot of problems around how to improve transplant services for our population of patients, and, and also for our staff, being able to work with, you know, frontline staff to make sure that whatever they’re doing in their day to day, they are feeling fulfilled by it, and it’s fulfilling the needs of the patients. And so we’re able to address so many factors, and have a robust program that’s helping many, many people every year.

Interviewer 3:50
What anthropological skills do you use in your field?

Joshua Liggett 3:54
So a lot of my work so far has been around process improvement, performance improvement. And as we’re, as we’re getting out of the “regularly putting out fires” mode, we’re able to do things that are more interesting, like, you know, what can we do earlier on in the process of identifying patients for transplants, and different identifiers that could indicate that they need different supports as they go through to make sure that they live longer, and their graft stays around longer working for them. One of the tools rather that we currently use is called the Five why’s where you just basically progressively ask, why is this a problem? But why is that a problem until you get to the root cause of an issue?

Interviewer 4:49
Well, what is the one thing about anthropology that nobody told you as a student?

Joshua Liggett 4:55
Well, we heard a lot about anthropology and Anthropologists can do anything but not how. So one of the things that was really helpful is and, and almost like a bird course being an anthropologist was things like the Six Sigma, Lean training and so forth. And that’s a big deal for my position now. And I can take the things that I learned in anthropology, and slap a new name on it that, you know, the folks in the transplant world are familiar with. And I’m still doing anthropology., I’m doing what I was trained to do. It’s just has it has a different name now.

Interviewer 5:41
What message would you like to pass on to future practicing applied anthropologists?

Joshua Liggett 5:47
I would say probably gaining report. That’s something that starts as early as the job interview. Yeah. When, when I applied for my first position. Folks, were really interested in the fact that I was an anthropologist, and kind of in, in kinder words, “what was I doing there?” And, you know, keying into different aspects of the interviewers gave me a little bit of a leg up identifying ways that I could interact with them and meet them on the same level. And, you know, following through to my current role, I applied for this position. Technically, I applied for the Liver program version of my position. I lost that to my colleague, who was actually Oh, she’s amazing at her job. So she definitely deserved it. But I made such a good impression in that interview that when the kidney program had their quality analyst position, open up, my now-boss, reached out to me and said, “You should go apply for this now.”

Interviewer 7:23
What advice would you like to pass on to future anthropologists seeking roles in professional fields?

Joshua Liggett 7:30
Definitely find out the similarities between the field that you’re interested in and anthropology. So you can translate the skills that you have, and the abilities that you you’ve gained through your anthropological training into something that makes sense to the community you’re trying to work with. With quality roles, Lean Six Sigma was the language you know, healthcare, there’s quite a language all unto itself. But as long as you’re able to key into the similarities between us and the everywhere else we can work, that’s going to be the important thing.

Interviewer 8:20
Thank you, Josh Liggett, for sharing your experience as a practicing anthropologist. For more snapshots, find us here, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Meta. Tune in next time for more snapshots.

Many Thanks to NAPA’s General Council for their Support! NAPA is a section of the American Anthropological Association. Practicing Directors: Reshama Damle and Suanna Crowley Producers: Cathleen Crain, Niel Tashima, Joshua Liggett 

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