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Dr. Yvette Laclaustra





Year of Birth / Death

b. 1955


Medical School

Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine


Geography

LOCATION
Puerto Rico


Career Path

Surgery
Dr. Yvette Laclaustra



Inspiration

The profession of medicine attracted me since I was a child. I always wanted to be a doctor since my earliest memories. My father planted the seed that a physician is the most honorable profession. He taught me that a physician has the ability to impact human life and alleviate human suffering as no other profession can. There is nothing more honorable and spiritually rewarding than being a physician.



Biography

"I am trying to find balance in my life as a trauma surgeon, breast surgeon, wife, and mother of three children. Ultimately, the many roles as a woman enhance my abilities to be a better surgeon." Yvette Laclaustra, M.D., has forged a dedicated and committed path in her career. "There is nothing more honorable and spiritually rewarding than being a physician," she says. Although juggling so many responsibilities is never easy, Dr. Laclaustra believes it is well worth the effort.

Yvette Laclaustra has been determined to become a physician for as long as she can remember. After earning a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Puerto Rico in 1977, she attended medical school at the Universidad Central del Caribe in Cayey, Puerto Rico, graduating in 1981. After moving to the United States, she took a residency in general surgery at the Nassau County Medical Center, New York from 1981 to 1985, and was then chief resident in the department of surgery from 1985 to 1986. "As a female and Hispanic surgeon," she says, "it was difficult to conquer a field which is basically male dominated." Nonetheless, she has been able to build a fulfilling career by providing patients with more options as they seek out medical care.

In 1988 Dr. Laclaustra married and moved to Stuart, Florida, where she established a solo practice in general surgery in a community hospital. Her practice focused on the care of women with diseases of the breast. "As a woman and a surgeon, I became the first choice of many women," she says. She then joined a new trauma system in Palm Beach County, where she became a full-time trauma and critical care surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach. Dr. Laclaustra has practiced at St. Mary's for the past eleven years.

Dr. Laclaustra has built a career that includes many roles. She tries to balance the responsibilities of her work and love of patients with her family and friends. In West Palm Beach, she serves as a trauma surgeon, and critical care and trauma thoracic surgeon, and has a private practice in general, vascular, and breast surgery at St. Mary's Medical Center. She also has a private practice in general and breast surgery at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach, and specializes in general surgery and diseases of the breast at the Women's Breast Care Center in Palm Springs, Florida.

Dr. Laclaustra has been featured on an award-winning video sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, "Women Are Surgeons." The award-winning video offers a new perspective on the field of surgery, which was once considered so unwelcoming to women. By changing the culture of surgery, women physicians are broadening their patients' choices and changing the experience of disease and treatment.



Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

As a female and Hispanic surgeon, it was difficult to conquer a field which is basically male dominated. It took years of hard work and dedication. There are many times that a physician values and ethics are challenged, one must remain true to your core values. On one occasion I had to resign from a lucrative position because the mission of the organization went against my values; ultimately it proved to be the right decision.

How do I make a difference?

I believe that I had a calling to be a surgeon. My relation with my patients and families is open, and I am always there for them. There is an immediate reward to saving a life. The skills and knowledge that I have acquired over the years have allowed a great degree of comfort in my career as a surgeon. I have a strong desire and authentic love for my profession.

Who was my mentor?

My mentor was Anthony DiBenedetto, the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Nassau County Medical Center in New York. He was a devoted and skillful cardio-thoracic and general surgeon. Dr. DiBenedetto was an example of a truly dedicated surgeon with extraordinary ethics and love for the profession.

How has my career evolved over time?

After completing my five years of surgical training, I became a junior faculty member at my training program, Nassau County [New York] Medical Center. Within two years I married and moved to Florida. I started a solo practice in general surgery in a community hospital in Stuart, Florida. While in Stuart, my practice evolved into the care of women with breast disorders. As a woman and a surgeon, I became the first choice of many women. Over the years I was honored and humbled to provide such a valuable service. In 1991, I was given the opportunity to be part of a newly established Trauma System in Palm Beach County. Eventually I moved and became a full-time trauma and critical care surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital. I have practiced there for the last eleven years. I also developed a small practice in breast surgery. I am trying to find balance in my life as a trauma surgeon, breast surgeon, wife, and mother of three children. Ultimately, the many roles as a woman enhance my abilities to be a better surgeon.



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