Meet Our Team

Meet Craig J. Baker, MD

Originally published October 28, 2016

Last updated April 30, 2024

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dr. Baker is a surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC, who specializes in cardiac and cardiothoracic surgery.

Here’s what you won’t find on his resume.

Family and fresh air make him happy.

“I try to spend as much time with as possible with my son and daughter. I’m married to an incredible, intelligent and beautiful wife who is a plastic surgeon at Keck Medicine. I also have very strong family ties in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas so I enjoy spending time outdoors with family and friends.”

He’s into outdoor sports.

“Most people find it surprising that my favorite sport is snowboarding, although I recently switched back to skiing so that I could teach my children. I recently started mountain biking as well.”

His father inspired him to balance his work and family life.

“My father was my biggest role model when I was growing up. He instilled into me the importance of balancing career and family and actively making time for both. I frequently think about the time he took off from work and the opportunities he may have forgone to spend time with his family. I always keep this in mind when presented with new career opportunities.”

By third grade, he knew what he wanted to do.

“I decided to become a physician at a young age. When my sister and I were children, my mother kept a book that tracked our various milestones. In second grade I wrote that I wanted to become a fireman, but starting in third grade, I changed my career goals to becoming a surgeon. I don’t think I have ever looked back.”

Seeing immediate results is the most rewarding part of his job.

“Seeing the immediate effects of a patient feeling better after heart surgery is incredibly rewarding to me. I have always loved working with my hands and am very fortunate to be able to help improve someone’s quality of life while doing something I truly enjoy.”

His students inspire him to be the best.

“I direct our thoracic surgery training program and take my role in training future leaders and surgeons very seriously. It’s critically important to lead by example and instill in our trainees the importance of being the best physician you can be. But I make sure to tell any incoming medical student to choose your career in medicine solely based on what you have a passion for. Oftentimes, students are driven toward fields in high demand, but that’s unpredictable and can change over time.”

Technology is revolutionizing cardiac treatment.

“Cardiac surgery is undergoing a monumental change as technology advances and less invasive therapies are developed. These advances often require close collaboration between different specialties. We have embraced these technological advances at all levels and are leaders in many emerging therapies. We collaborate daily with our cardiology colleagues and work together to individualize treatment plans only with the patient’s best interest in mind.”

Keck Medicine is his home.

“Physicians practice in academic centers for various reasons. I have always enjoyed teaching and knew this would be important to me. I have been here at Keck Medicine for over 20 years and consider my colleagues and partners as my extended family. I enjoy coming to work, and I believe that Keck Medicine has a unique and personal environment. We are truly part of the Trojan Family.”

View Dr. Baker’s full biography and schedule an appointment.