PERSEVERANCE, POSITIVITY, AND FAITH ARE THE KEYS TO DR. JOYCE HAYNES BUSCH’S SUCCESS IN LIFE
by JENNIFER JORDAN
“When you have a dream that is seemingly impossible, you must believe in yourself.” These words of Dr. Joyce Haynes Busch underlie her remarkable life. In only 48 years, Dr. Busch has achieved more than most people do in their entire lifespan, and this is due to her strong positive attitude and faith as well as an unwavering determination to succeed. As a Family Medicine resident at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Southwest in Texarkana, Arkansas, Dr. Busch lives daily her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor, a dream she officially began at age 38.
Dr. Busch’s path to medicine was not traditional; in fact, she took several diversions and met significant challenges along the way, including the loss of her husband and a legal battle to adopt her stepsons. Yet, most dreams worth achieving require great effort, and Dr. Busch did put in the effort.
Dr. Busch’s story begins in Los Angeles, California, where she grew up, entering kindergarten at age three and taking 9th grade classes at age 12. In 1982, her family moved to Texarkana to help care for her maternal grandfather, Lewis Nelson. Dr. Busch and her sister, Novalean Haynes, attended Texas High School. Although Mr. Nelson passed shortly after the move, the family stayed, and Dr. Busch graduated from Texas High at age 16.
Becoming a physician had always been Dr. Busch’s dream, but graduating high school early, and worried about how to pursue college financially, she decided to join the United States Air Force at age 17. She worked as a communications computer specialist and maintained computer inventory at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. During this time, she received an Associate of Arts Degree in Logistics Management from the Community College of Air Force in 1990. “I was determined to complete an undergraduate degree,” Dr. Busch remarks, so upon discharge from the Air Force, she returned to California and attended college at night while working full-time at DoorKing, Inc., as a wholesale consultant responsible for selling gate operators and telephone entry systems with sales territory in the Midwest. In 1996, Dr. Busch earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Upon graduation, Dr. Busch brought her energy and her business degree to the real estate field, having worked weekends in real estate during her senior year in college. She took a leap and became a licensed real estate agent with Century 21, eventually expanding into real estate acquisitions and rehabilitating residential properties. Dr. Busch moved to Dallas in 2004 and became a Texas mortgage broker. In 2006, she met the love of her life, Donald C. Busch, a widower with two sons: Jamaal, age 4, and Christian, age 14, at the time. They married in May 2008. When the stock market crashed and real estate values plummeted in 2008, Dr. Busch decided to make a career change. She moved to Houston to be with her new family (the family already lived in Houston).
Out of insecurity and naïveté, she had shelved her hopes of becoming a doctor, but with her family’s support, she realized that it was the right time to pursue her medical degree. She was the first person in her family to graduate college, and she remembered her maternal grandmother, a mother of 11 children, always encouraging her family to get an education. At the age of 38, Dr. Busch dusted off her childhood dream and took the plunge. With her go-getter attitude, she researched the steps necessary to apply to medical school, spoke with advisors, and began to take prerequisite courses. “I make it sound so simple, but it was not without struggle and plenty of discouragement from others. I was told, ‘No way will you get into medical school at age 38 plus.’ ‘Most people your age are planning for retirement, not starting a new career.’ ‘You would be competing with candidates 10 to 15 years younger.’ These statements only fueled my fire and desire.”
With her passion ignited, Dr. Busch enrolled in a summer session, but her choice to take Biology and Calculus I at the same time brought concern from the Mathematics chair. He initially said, “You are setting yourself up for failure attempting both of these courses in a summer semester.” Dr. Busch recalls asking him, “‘How can you sum me up to be a failure after only knowing me for 15 minutes?’ He saw that I was not going to give up. With much persuasion, he allowed me to take both courses. He even loaned me his calculus book to save me the cost, as he presumed that I would have to drop out. Our agreement was that if I did not do well on my first exams, I would drop one of the courses and return his book. Well, I returned to his office to give him back his book, with a positive report of receiving A’s in both classes, and he then tried to convince me to major in Mathematics,” she chuckles. “That was the beginning of my journey toward practicing medicine.”
Dr. Busch planned that she would need about 12-18 months to complete the prerequisites for medical school. However, her husband was soon diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. Dr. Busch moved to part-time status so that she could drive Donald to chemo and radiation appointments. She also attempted to maintain a normal home environment for her sons while completing 150 volunteer hours with Healthcare for the Homeless in downtown Houston, part of her prerequisites. Sadly, Donald passed away within a year. Dr. Busch worked to fulfill her promise to her husband of legally adopting his sons. Despite challenges from seven different interveners, Dr. Busch succeeded in the adoption. She also succeeded in finishing all of her prerequisites, although it ended up taking her a total of three years. Dr. Busch could not have done it all without her family, including her late father, Eddie Haynes, who passed away from metastatic prostate cancer the month she started residency in Texarkana, and his wife, Cheryl. She credits her mother, Mary Vaden, as the greatest influence on her. “She is wise, experienced, and I trust her counsel,” Dr. Busch states. “She has encouraged me when others had no faith that I could do this at my age. She not only was there for me in words, but in deed. After my husband’s passing she moved in with us and provided support and comfort.”
Dr. Busch was accepted into Ross University School of Medicine, and maintained a tough study schedule, devoting 12-14 hours a day to her school work. Yet, she still participated in her school community, contributing articles to the student newspaper and serving as the public relations representative for the Student National Medical Association. Upon graduation in 2016, Dr. Busch was thrilled that she matched for a family medicine residency at UAMS Southwest, and that she would return to Texarkana. In the two years that she has been working at the clinic and rounding at both local hospitals, she loves what she does, serving the underrepresented and underserved, providing continuity of care to the chronically ill patients, delivering babies, and taking care of seniors and children. “I’m a thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie, so I thoroughly enjoy the high pace aspects of the hospital and emergency medicine environment, as well as being an outpatient physician. This is why Family Medicine is a great fit for me.”
In her spare time, Dr. Busch enjoys time with Jamaal, who is a rising 10th grader at Pleasant Grove High School. Son Christian, a graduate of The University of Texas at San Antonio and currently on active duty with the Air Force, recently visited, and the family went ziplining in Diana, Texas. Dr. Busch is also an avid roller skater, and she skates any time she can in Dallas or Houston. As a member of the Junior League of Texarkana, she enjoys actively giving back to the community.
To say that Joyce Haynes Busch leads a full life is an understatement. Facing the numerous challenges she encountered along the way to her accomplishments would be a struggle for any person. Yet, Dr. Busch is a role model for all people on how to never give up on a dream. Perseverance, positivity, and faith are the keys to her success. These characteristics will continue to drive her as she completes her residency and decides upon which specialty to focus. Dr. Busch says that she has “a strong desire to pursue an Emergency Medicine Fellowship locally or become a Hospitalist with a combination of part-time clinical work.” Given her past victories, Dr. Busch will no doubt achieve her goal. As she believes, “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). With Dr. Busch’s incredible optimism and motivation, she certainly will fulfill more dreams in the next 48 years.