Physician’s Career Began as an EVMS Professor

Dr. Jeffery Baker
Dr. Jeffery Baker
Dr. Jeffery Baker has a special distinction as a Florence L. Smith Scholarship recipient. He was an Eastern Virginia Medical School professor before he was an EVMS medical student.

In the early days of EVMS in the 1970s, Baker taught kidney physiology at EVMS for three years. He had earned a biology degree from Xavier University in Ohio, a doctorate in physiology from the University of Cincinnati and completed a University of New Mexico fellowship. But, he wasn’t done with his own education.

“I had been thinking about a career evolution for some time and decided to apply to medical school,” he recalls of his move from professor to student. Since he liked the Hampton Roads region and EVMS’ philosophy of community-based medicine, Baker applied to EVMS for medical school and was accepted.

During his first year as an EVMS medical student, he continued to teach kidney physiology. Baker remembers it being interesting sitting down as a student and then standing up as a professor “all in the same morning.”

The Florence L. Smith Scholarship helped Baker ease the burden of paying for medical school as the married father of a one-year-old son. The scholarship helped finance his education while his wife Connie worked as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters.

After graduating from EVMS in 1981, Baker returned to Ohio for residency at the University of Cincinnati In the Community Hospital. He specialized in internal medicine because it fit well with his background in physiology. After completing residency in 1984, he opened a private practice in Cincinnati with two other internal medicine physicians. In 1995 their practice became part of the University of Cincinnati Health System.

Baker says transitioning to a career as a physician is the best professional decision he ever made. He hasn’t looked back since starting his career 35 years ago. He feels a sense of personal reward in taking care of people.

Florence Smith
Florence Smith's charitable bequest to her community foundation created medical scholarships for long-time Virginia residents.
Although he retired in 2016, he continues to fill in at two university clinics and works part time at a free health clinic. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family. Now with three adult sons, three grandsons and one grandchild on the way, the Bakers split their time between Ohio and New Mexico.

Baker is grateful to his scholarship benefactor Florence Smith. In 2007 he started making an annual gift to her fund and says the scholarship is “something that I won’t forget.”

Who was Florence Smith? Learn more about the woman whose generous gift to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation created a living memorial that lets her forever shape the lives of both the physicians she helps mold and the patients they serve.

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