Dr. Courtney Baldridge: Pediatric Society of Greater Dallas Awardfor Excellence in Pediatric Medicine

By Kristen Holland Shear

It was no surprise to anyone that Dr. Courtney Baldridge opted to become a pediatrician — except perhaps to herself.

The 26-year-old California native said she planned to become a nurse and didn’t think otherwise until her freshman year at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Dr. Courtney Baldridge

“When I was really young, I felt strongly called that God wanted me to go to another country and do some kind of work with people who have less and need more hope,” she said. “I really wanted the one-on-one patient care that nursing offers, so until college I hadn’t really considered going to medical school.”

She may have been the only one who hadn’t considered it, though.

“Everybody tells me they always knew I’d become a pediatrician,” Dr. Baldridge said with a laugh. “It took me a little longer to realize it, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Her dedication to the health and well-being of children helped her earn the 2010 Pediatric Society of Greater Dallas Award for Excellence in Pediatric Medicine. Dr. Baldridge is the third recipient of the award, which recognizes an outstanding graduate who embodies the personal character and dedication to serve and advocate for children.

Dr. Soumya Adhikari, assistant professor of pediatrics, said Dr. Baldridge possesses all the qualities anyone could ask of a pediatrician.

“She’s a natural, ” Dr. Adhikari said. “She has the personality that allows her to connect very easily not only with colleagues, but with children and parents as well.

“On top of that, she has a real passion for caring for the underserved,” he added.

Dr. Baldridge, who will complete her residency in pediatrics at UT Southwestern, called the specialty a perfect fit for her because it involves interacting with children and adults.

“Some people shy away from pediatrics because they don’t want to have to deal with parents, but I love working with the parents, trying to guide them and offer reassurances,” she added. “I was really excited every single day of the eight weeks I spent on my pediatrics rotation. That didn’t happen on any other rotation. It just clicked.”

Though Dr. Baldridge is unsure exactly where she will use her medical training, she’s sure it will be outside the U.S.

“I hope that I’ll have some kind of connection to the academic world here in the U.S., but I ultimately see myself serving as a physician in some other country,” she said, adding that she spent 10 weeks before medical school and four weeks last summer volunteering at a surgical hospital in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Baldridge also has volunteered in Honduras and Guatemala.

She said that working in Latin America is the most logical option because she and her husband, Aaron, speak Spanish. But they are open to other locations.

“Going to do medical work in another country can seem great at first, but you can only do so much,” Dr. Baldridge said. “I want to really make a change in the way people live and show them that people care about them, that somebody loves them.”