Trailblazing female neurosurgeon retires


For nearly 50 years, Dr. Janet Bay has lived a life that she’s plotted to even the most minute detail. It is easy to understand why now, at age 70, she is looking forward to something new.

“They say when a door closes a window opens somewhere. This for sure is a new opening for me,” she said.

The new opening is retirement and Dr. Bay is embracing it in much the same way she took on the challenge of going to work in the field of neurosurgery where women have long been outnumbered by men.

The American Board of Neurological Surgery certified Bay as the 13th female to practice neurosurgery in the United States.

It was an amazing feat although Dr. Bay said not everyone celebrated.

There was hazing from her colleagues during interviews with questions including, “You plan on getting married? You plan on having children--because that doesn't work with neurosurgery.”

Those who tried to stand in her way learned quickly that Dr. Bay was not to be deterred. They've also learned she is tops in this specialty focusing on the surgical illnesses of the brain, spine and peripheral nerve.

Dr. Bay was the first female medical staff president at Riverside Methodist, Chair of the Neuroscience Clinical Operations Council, and Physician Lead for the neuroscience clinical program.

Dr. Bay said her 45 years of practice have allowed her to experience a number of critical advancements, from the very first MRI's to today's brain imaging.

"We have GPS devices in the operating room that will help us not only reach the part of the brain we want to get to but also go through the least damaging pathway to get there," she said.