“I love taking care of people, I love medicine and making medical decisions, and I want my life to make a difference.”
“IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!”
Ever since she was a little girl on her parents' dairy farm in rural Forsyth, then a 1970 graduate from Mary Persons High School and then a Home Economics graduate in 1974 from the University of Georgia (followed by a Master of Education in Home Economics in 1975), Trellis Baker wanted to make a difference-as a doctor.
"At that time, becoming a physician seemed little more than a dream," she recalls. "Women just didn't go to medical school." So Baker went on making a difference in other ways-teaching science and home economics in the Spalding, Cherokee and Butts County school systems for four years, during which time she also became a registered dietitian with the American Dietetics Association and worked as a registered dietitian for the Monroe County Hospital and the Spring Valley Nursing Home.
Jump to 1988, at which time she'd been married for thirteen years, just given birth to her baby daughter, Kathryn Reid Baker, and "decided it was time to apply to Mercer University School of Medicine." Famous for training physicians to serve in Georgia's rural and underserved areas, Baker knew Mercer "would be a perfect school for me because I wanted to serve the people in Monroe County, where I was raised."
Six years later, she was ready. "My life experiences had enabled me to understand the needs and aspirations of rural people [and] I chose Internal Medicine for several reasons: the possibility to develop long-term relationships with patients; the enjoyment from communicating with and counseling adult patients; a superb, broad residency education; the joy of hospital care, and the community's need for another Internal Medicine physician," said Baker.
For the next seven years, from her pre-medical work at Mercer University and Macon College, through her M.D. degree and residency (at The Medical Center of Georgia), Baker maintained a grueling schedule of 100-hour work weeks and 36-hour residency shifts. "I couldn't have done it without my husband (John T. Baker, Jr.) and daughter," she recalled.
"The entire process was a family affair. My husband cooked, car-pooled and was always available for support during those years of study and hard work. My daughter started Kindergarten the same year I started medical school. It seems we've always been in school together, and adapted together."
Nominating Baker as a Local Legend, Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA-3) lauded her as a wife, mother and educator with a "far-from-average medical background." "Her devotion to her profession and her community brought her to Monroe County Hospital, a first-rate rural establishment. As the first full-time female physician at the hospital, she has worked hard to bring the faces of women to the foreground of medicine. Her dedication to helping people makes her an outstanding choice."
Said Shannon Harvey, a colleague of Baker's at the Central Georgia Cancer Coalition, "Not only do I have the utmost respect for a person willing to change from an established career to attend medical school while still functioning as a parent, as she did, and her willingness to return to practice in her rural, home community, as she has, I have also appreciated her kind and patient-focused approach to medicine."
Enters medical school-at age 42!
Earns M.D. and begins three-year residency in Internal Medicine at the Medical Center of Central Georgia, Macon
Opens solo Internal Medicine practice in Forsyth, Monroe County
Mercer University School of Medicine