May 13—A love for patients has kept Paula Baker in nursing for four decades.
"I love people, I feel like I'm a giving person and I felt that's a field I needed to be in 41 years ago," Baker said.
Baker, who works at Muskogee Bone and Joint, was chosen as Muskogee's favorite nurse in a Muskogee Phoenix vote. The top nominated nurses were posted on Facebook and readers were encouraged to vote on the favorite.
A Muskogee native, Baker traces her interest in nursing to a career aptitude survey she filled out in high school.
"Mine came up as a nurse," she said. "It's just a field I thought I needed to be in."
She said she worked at the former Muskogee Regional Medical Center for 14 years before coming to Muskogee Bone and Joint 26 years ago. She also has done home health on the side.
Baker said her biggest rewards of nursing involve helping people in need.
"Sometimes, we'll go above and beyond and do personal things for people," she said. "One time, we bought a lady a tank of gas. We drove our car over and filled it up. We've had a young man come in. We bought him a whole new wardrobe — new toiletries, new shoes. We did that as a clinic group. We're family-oriented here."
Muskogee Bone and Joint Surgical Coordinator Emily Kimbrough said she worked with Baker for 15 years.
"She is very caring, compassionate, she takes time to listen to her patients and give them the best quality of care."
Baker said her biggest challenge is dealing with laws and insurance requirements while "giving patients the things they need to live their lives productively."
Dr. Jack Weaver of Muskogee Bone and Joint said Baker "loves the patient."
"She sees the patient as a real person with real issues that are not always apparent," Weaver said. "She looks at the patient, asks questions. She talks to them. The patients come back to see me and want to know where Paula is."
Baker said the patients keep her going.
"If I had a patient come in here and they're having a bad time, it sure makes anything going on in your life seem pretty small," she said.
Meet Paula Baker
EDUCATION: Muskogee High School, 1977; Attended what is now Indian Capital Technology Center; associate and bachelor's degrees from Bacone College.
PROFESSION: Nurse at Muskogee Bone and Joint.
FAMILY: Husband, Danny; son Justin; daughter, Courtney; nine grandchildren.
HOBBIES: Gardening, attending livestock shows with her daughter.