We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Joy Baker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Joy, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
When I first started in Medicine, I thought that I had to be completely consumed by it. I had this idea that a “good doctor” was one who was ALWAYS there, ALWAYS available any time, day or night. After about 5-6 years of trying to live out this completely unrealistic work life, I finally realized that I was exhausted, burnt out, and nearing the end of my rope. While my career as an OB/GYN was certainly fulfilling, it became abundantly clear to me that I was missing out on life. I was working in a very small community about one hour outside Atlanta, where I was 1 of 2 OB/GYNs serving a large catchment area. This meant that I was on call sometimes 72-96 hours per week. My physical and emotional health was impacted from long stints of work with little sleep, poor diet and exercise regimen, and barely any time spent with friends and family. To top it all off, I inadvertently learned that like many minority women in Medicine, I was being paid significantly less than my white, male partner. All of that snowballed into deep discontent. Though I loved the women I was serving, I ultimately decided that I deserved to have a full life that INCLUDED my career–not a life that only consisted of my career! I decided to change employers, and move back to LaGrange, where I was born. I now attend births and perform surgeries in the very hospital where I was born. I have quite a bit of family here, and most of my friends are close enough to get together for Sunday brunch. I am so much happier with my career, and while I am still very productive, I only take overnight call at the hospital when I want to, and I have time to invest in projects that I am passionate about, such as Black Maternal Health Equity and my new Women’s Wellness YouTube Channel, Delivering Joy MD. Now, I am burning bright instead of burning out!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I LOVE being and Obstetrician & Gynecologist. I am an employed Private Practice Physician with a large health system. I very much enjoy this role because it allows me to partner with the health system to provide world-class Women’s health care & exceptional service without the limitations that can come along with solo private practice. For example, many solo private practices these days may simply not be able to afford to accept insurances that have lower reimbursement rates just because they would not be able to keep their doors open. As an employed physician with a large health system, there are very few times that I ever have to turn anyone away–I can stay focused on providing the best care without so much worry about reimbursements.
I think the elements that set our practice apart are our approach to care and the atmosphere. I am incredibly blessed with an amazing team who sets the bar high with regard to quality and believes in going the extra mile for each person we serve. We focus on the individual and creating real relationships with out patients. In addition, we intentionally created a space that is calming, welcoming and inviting. Many women have some degree of anxiety about OB/GYN visits, so we decided to create a space that countered those feelings of anxiety and invoked feelings of warmth and safety. With each detail from the way we wanted to schedule patients to our exam gowns, our team thought about the care and experience we wanted to provide.
Getting to the place where I am today was not an easy process. I think every professional goes through a phase of learning what works and what doesn’t. We all take our knocks, bumps and bruises along the way. The key is being willing to try again–to re-imagine, re-group and re-invent. I am 8 years into my practice of Medicine, and I finally feel as if I am hitting my stride professionally and creatively. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s ok if the whole world doesn’t “get” your vision initially. Align yourself with those who do and keep going–eventually folks will catch on and usually want to jump on the bandwagon after it’s already rolling. In my experience, it can be hard for most folks to understand your direction until you get that wagon rolling!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I enjoy being in the city for brief stints, but I am mainly a country girl. We’d definitely have to travel into the city for shopping at Atlantic Station, Phipps Plaza, Lenox, Little 5 Points. We’d have to also venture into the traffic for the wonderful culinary experiences like 2 Urban Licks, Brunch at the C&C Social Club, or Ray’s In the City. I’m old school ATL, so we have to hit a skating rink or two as well! Otherwise, I’d show my BFF out into the wide open spaces in the 60 miles or so surrounding ATL and definitely try some adventures like Sky Dive ATL and grab some BBQ from Mama’s Kitchen in nearby Barnesville after our adrenaline rush. We’d probably head West to the Nutwood Winery in LaGrange and enjoy live Music in the vineyard, or catch a concert at Sweetland Amphitheatre. Best of all, one evening, we’d just walk over to my Daddy’s big back yard, light the tiki torches and have a fish fry!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to Winter Wheeler and the Fab Ladies ATL crew– a multi-disciplinary group of dynamic professional women that supports, promotes, and uplifts each other across various platforms. Winter connected this group during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is such a joy to be a part of!
Sara Arnold Photography