Laurie Scott, M.D., is a problem-solver, an advocate, a student and a teacher. And she can’t imagine her life any other way.
“At this point in my life, I can't imagine having gone into any other field,” said Dr. Scott, Medical Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Memorial Healthcare System, Hollywood, FL. “The personal fulfillment of being able to help people through a time that is really challenging and perhaps really scary for them… it’s infinitely rewarding.”
She combines empathy and clinical excellence to provide a higher level of care to women with high-risk pregnancies, which sometimes means admitting that she has exhausted all treatment options.
“Our first goal as physicians is to fix the clinical issue, but sometimes it can’t be fixed. The next goal is to make sure these women don’t feel abandoned,” Dr. Scott explained. “They need to know that they have someone who will advocate for them, provide emotional support and help them make sometimes painful decisions about their babies.”
While she had planned to become a high school science teacher, a packed schedule in college left little room to squeeze in education classes. Instead, she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and went to Oklahoma University’s College of Medicine with the intention of specializing in family medicine. An OB-GYN rotation piqued her interest, and she further refined her practice to maternal fetal medicine (MFM) during her OB-GYN residency at St. Paul Medical Center in Dallas.
After a fellowship at Parkland Memorial Hospital through the University of Texas Southwestern, she returned home to Florida in 1996 to build an MFM practice with a former colleague. When that practice dissolved 10 years later, she launched her own to fill a gap in maternal fetal medicine services in the southern part of the county. When she was approached by Memorial in 2012 to lead the system’s new MFM program, she scaled back to part time at her practice to pursue that opportunity.
In her effort to improve the lives in her community, Dr. Scott has worked to add an obstetrics patient navigation program and a high-risk MFM referral program, made possible through a partnership with her fellow Envision Physician Services OB hospitalists, providing more seamless patient care. She has also helped develop specific programs to care for pregnant women with heart disease, kidney disease, placenta accreta and substance abuse issues.
“There’s a narrow window of time that we’re involved in these women’s lives, but it’s clear that what we do as maternal fetal medicine specialists can have a lasting impact, emotionally and clinically, on mothers, babies and their families,” Dr. Scott said.
Being a Woman in Medicine
While Dr. Scott says that she has often been one of only a handful of women on teams throughout her medical career, she has never felt uncomfortable. In fact, she has had several male mentors who have offered invaluable advice, support and encouragement. She is equally grateful for the trailblazing female physicians who preceded her and fought for routine inclusion in medicine, pay parity and work-life balance. She has been able to share her knowledge with other women in medicine on a variety of topics, including how to start and run a financially successful private practice.
“I learned very early on that the best way to succeed in what I was doing was to be the very best so that I was judged on my merits, not my gender,” she said.
Her advice to others in the field is to connect with patients on a personal level: “Get to know them as people. Understand why they are how they are. That’s the reward of a career in medicine—there are academic challenges and stimulation, but your relationships with your patients are where the real sense of fulfillment comes from.”
Dr. Scott said it is important to keep learning and growing personally and professionally. She is learning Spanish and teaches Bible study to young women at her local church. Her family has participated in church missions to Brazil, and she and her husband, an attorney, try to be flexible to keep the household running smoothly. Still, she said, sometimes the house is not spotless, meals might be microwaved and one of them may miss a child’s sporting event.
“No one can do it all,” she shared. “You’re going to have to juggle a lot and know that you’re going to drop a few balls. Just hope that they bounce.”