Janice Drake: Women in Business

By Kathleen Swift

Bariatric surgery has become more common, and Janice Drake serves as the program coordinator for the bariatric surgery team at Freeman Health System. Drake has been with the program since its inception in August 2014. Freeman Bariatric Center is accredited as a Comprehensive Center under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP®), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. The first and only bariatric program in the area to be accredited, Freeman Bariatric Center meets the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care.

“We are proud to be the only comprehensive bariatric center nationally certified in a 65-mile radius of Joplin,” said Drake. “We’ve seen close to 700 patients in the last four years. Our two surgeons, Dr. Brad Coy and Dr. David Baker, saw a real need in our area for this kind of program and added it to their general surgery practice.”

Drake worked for 30 years as an OR nurse before coming to the program. “I always thought I like my patients asleep before I became a part of this team,” quipped Drake. “Now I love patient contact. Getting to know our patients and seeing how bariatric surgery affects the quality of their lives is rewarding. I think I have grown as a nurse. I don’t mind the long days because I love the work.”

As a part of the bariatric surgery program, Drake participates in the seminars that work with patients and preceeds any bariatric surgery.  

“The doctors hold the seminars on the second and fourth Tuesday each month. They go through the types of procedures available and discuss the pros and cons of each one. A registered dietician and a psychologist also provide information,” said Drake, who helps potential patients navigate through the process and lets them know what to do next. 

Drake said support groups are available for those who have undergone bariatric surgery. “Some people are private about having had the surgery, and some people are more open about it,” remarked Drake. “I think as the surgery becomes more common, patients will realize that good support can lead to more successful outcomes. Attitude makes a difference.”

Drake loves her career in medicine. 

“Nursing is a great field, and I would choose it again. There are so many options. I thought I would always work in the OR, and here I am working with patients in an area that didn’t exist when I first became a nurse. As a nurse, you can have a job anywhere in a variety of settings. I highly recommend nursing.”

In addition to her job, Drake enjoys spending time with her son, and going antiquing with her mom and sister.  

“I love to collect things, and for a while, I collected Dr Pepper items. I drank a lot of Dr Pepper at one time. I gave up all soda to support a bariatric patient. She had to give up soda, and I told her I would give it up with her.”  

Drake has never looked back on drinking soda, and she continues to look forward in her career in bariatric surgery nursing.