I’d long known it was coming but it didn’t make the moment any easier. So when we dropped our youngest of three sons off at college in September, officially making us empty nesters, I turned to my husband and said: “Now what?” After 27 years of high-octane parenting — of weekend soccer games and nightly violin practice and endless homework coaching and bottomless laundry — how would we forge a meaningful new path for this next new chapter?
It’s the kind of existential question many of us face at different transition points in our lives, and particularly at retirement. Fortunately, the leaders of the Johns Hopkins Academy, East Baltimore Campus, have created an inspiring model to follow, as you’ll read about in “Harnessing the Hopkins Brain Trust.”
For faculty members who have devoted their entire lives to academic medicine, retirement can too often feel, as one physician shared, like their whole world is falling apart. The Academy, now 140 members strong, provides the ideal countermeasure — by creating a pathway for retirees to mentor young trainees, lead important research, volunteer in the community and remain engaged with one another. And while it’s a win for them, the broader Johns Hopkins community also reaps considerable benefits.
In the words of Academy co-creator and professor of medicine Cynthia Rand, “Why in the world wouldn’t we want to harness that brain trust?”
Letter to the editor:
I enjoyed the article “This Is My Story” [Spring/Summer 2022]. The references to Osler reminded me of my dad [Professor Emeritus Benjamin M. Baker, who died in 2003 at age 101] and his Osler stories.
Dr. Victor McKusick interviewed Dad on camera in 1998 when my father was 97 for the Hopkins archives. McKusick said he had heard that Dad first met Osler at age 4 and wanted to know if it was true.
Yes, Osler had been invited to supper by my grandfather (a Norfolk, Virginia, physician). While Dad said he only vaguely remembered, apparently Osler hoisted the boy onto his lap and asked him a lot of questions. Then, as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford 16 years later, my father met Lady Osler at Norham Gardens. She took a shine to Dad and had him to tea regularly. She gave Dad a key to “the back door” of Sir William’s library, which became his primary place to read.
Upon graduation in 1925, Dad and a friend had to decide whether to come to Hopkins or go to Harvard. They flipped a coin, and it was heads for Hopkins.
The fundamental concept behind This Is My Story was central to my father’s practice of medicine and his talent for diagnosis, for which he was known. Listening to, and learning about, his patients was not only his strength, but his love.
William C. Baker
Trustee Emeritus, Johns Hopkins Medicine