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In Remembrance Of Dr. Lacey Wyatt

I got into family medicine not because it was my first choice but because I couldn’t match into any of the Emergency Medicine residencies I applied to. Come match day, I was among the many UCLA medical students who had to scramble into a spot.

My small groups lead, Dr. Denise Sur, was the program director for Family Medicine at UCLA who was looking for a medical student to fill an unmatched spot. My mentor, Dr. Dotun Ogunyemi, thought that I should connect with her because I would make a far better Family Doc than an ER doctor (I think that was a compliment, not sure).

As most things go, it’s all about connections. We all know the strict rules for scramble day, what you can’t do ad what you can’t do. Dr. Ogunyemi thankfully was the man with tons of connections. He got her on the phone immediately and that’s I ended up in Family Medicine.

How I Met Dr. Wyatt

I wasn’t terribly excited about FM, it always intrigued me because of how versatile I could be, but I was sure that it would bore me to death. Back then I didn’t care about money, I always knew that money and medicine go hand in hand.

I chose the underserved track of our program since underserved medicine spoke to me more than reassuring the affluent with their colds. Dr. Wyatt became my mentor and she was the program director for our Mid-Valley program.

I was blown away by this woman, this African American lady in her mid/late 30’s who was a firecracker. She ran circles around everyone, had such incredible useful clinical knowledge and could go from a ballbuster to the sweetest person in the exam room.

She Made Me Realize How Much I Sucked

Medical school wasn’t hard, it was emotionally draining but it was easier than undergrad in my opinion. Most of the Persians had all the old tests, volumes of that shit, and most of our professors recycled test questions. Therefore, passing wasn’t an issue.

My biggest fear came in residency, I could graduate and become a shit-doctor. I didn’t know too many of these crappy docs but I heard about them all the time. Dr. Wyatt would always let me know that I was lazy, trying to cut corners and didn’t pay enough attention to details – ah, the love.

It wasn’t that she would always be mean to me, well, okay, she was always mean to me but it was having her as a mentor that was an incredible eye opener. I realized that there was nothing holding me back from becoming a spitting image of her. That’s exactly what I set out to do.

Her Personal Life

I didn’t know much about her personal life, other than what she would share with us. For the most part, she was quite open about it, up until she developed breast cancer.

She had a daughter, Kamile, and from what I knew she was a single mom. She always tried to make time for her daughter but she was a busy woman. She was the program director for Mid Valley, she took call in the hospital and did a lot of the OB work at the UCLA/Santa Monica Hospital where we rotated.

I remember Her Wig

In my late 20’s I was quite oblivious to things happening around me, I think I developed my 6th sense once I started moonlighting. So I didn’t know exactly what was going on with Dr. Wyatt when she started having sick days at work, when started wearing this pitch-black wig and when she stopped being so hard on me.

I started out weak but I ended strong, I took on a 4th year Chief Residency position at our program and saw more and more of Dr. Wyatt, we were now working together.

What stood out to me is the tension she had between trying to make it to work and making time for Kamile. I could see the pressure she felt to go to work regularly, to be as involved as she once was before but to also give herself enough time to deal with things.

She Passed Away On 1/3/2014

I got word that she passed away when I was in San Diego, working at Kaiser. I didn’t see it coming, I assumed she was going to be okay and I didn’t keep in touch with her after leaving the residency.

I recall a wonderful moment, the day I did my first solo moonlighting gig. I was the first in my residency to get his medical license, October of my second year to be exact.

I did all my credentialing (which was so much easier then than it is now) and got my first overnight gig at the Healthcare Partners emergency room in Los Angeles. And what was my very first case? A GI bleed. I did okay, though, I got through the night really well and I remember I called Dr. Wyatt that night, not sure how late it was and I told her about it. She was the very first person that I could think of to boast to about my successful transition to the “real world” and I thanked her for being tough on me but always having faith in me.

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