Inspiration From Immense Dedication: Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster
My name is Yamileth Cazorla-Lancaster, also known as Dr. Yami, and I am a proud Latina in healthcare. I am a board-certified pediatrician, certified lifestyle medicine physician, certified health and wellness coach, podcast host, author, and speaker.
I was born in Panama, but my family emigrated to the United States right before I started the first grade. Although I did all of my schooling in the United States, I would spend every summer in Panama with my family. I grew up watching my aunt, who was a dedicated and beloved general practitioner in a small town called Macaracas, practice medicine. I admired her and her work so much that I declared that I also wanted to be a doctor when I was a mere four years old. I am fortunate that my grandmother, the matriarch of the family, was very focused on education and supported her three children in their educational pursuits. In my family, education was a priority and it was expected that all of the grandchildren would go to college and obtain advanced degrees. I was supported in my choice of career from the very beginning.
I am a very goal oriented person, so once I decided I would be a doctor, I was determined to accomplish that goal. I remember every step of the way asking what I could do to increase my chances of getting into medical school. I knew that it would be a long, hard road, but I was focused and very adamant about getting there and doing what I needed to do to reach my goal.
After my high school graduation, I chose to attend a small, private, liberal arts college where I majored in psychology and completed my pre-med courses. It was there that I met my future husband. College was so fun and we had so many incredible experiences, but I also remember studying hard and often choosing to hit the books rather than go out and socialize. There were definitely many stressful times wondering whether my grades and my test scores would be good enough to get into medical school. My now husband proposed to me a few days before we found out that we both got into the same medical school of our choice! I graduated college magna cum laude with honors, married my college sweetheart the next day (on a Monday), and we started our combined DO/MPH program 10 days later!
Medical school was amazing! I loved it so much and felt so grateful and so happy that I had made it! After enjoying many of my rotations in my third year of medical school, I chose pediatrics for my future career. Ironically, I had purposely scheduled my pediatrics rotation for my last rotation of third year because I knew “for sure” that I did NOT want to do pediatrics! By the end of the first week of my peds rotation, I had to admit that I was so wrong! I LOVED it! It was perfect for my personality and it just felt so right. I am so glad that I kept an open mind and followed my heart. Seeing my adorable and hilarious patients every day is the best part of my job. In medical school, I also had my first child and decided to obtain an additional degree as part of a special program at my medical school. I graduated in 5 years with my osteopathic medical degree, a master’s in public health, a master’s in clinical research and education, AND a 15-month-old son!
My husband and I couple-matched to programs in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was accepted into the pediatric primary care track at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I felt so honored to be accepted into such a prestigious training program where I knew I would get incredible training and excellent preparation for a career in primary care. Residency was intense. The hours were long, and I often felt anxiety. I had to learn to care for children who were sometimes critically ill and that was so stressful for me. Residency is a great time to practice getting comfortable being uncomfortable because there is a lot of discomfort. It can be hard feeling like you don’t know enough, don’t understand everything that is going on, constantly feel overwhelmed, and chronically sleep deprived. However, I wouldn’t trade my experience for another because I know that the intensity of my training helped me learn what I needed to become a better doctor.
After 3 years of residency, it was finally time to get our first real jobs. It was such an exciting time! Because I had a national health service corps scholarship, which paid four years of my medical school training, I was committed to serve in a health professionals shortage area. We accepted jobs in a small town in central Washington state called Yakima. I joined an excellent group of pediatricians who became my mentors. I learned so much working there over the next six years and developed more confidence in my primary care skills. However, around the six-year mark I became restless because I felt that there was something more that I wanted to do in my career. I had heard that private practice was “financial suicide” and that it was difficult and maybe not worth it. Despite this, I really felt like it was something that I wanted to try. I wanted to have more time with patients to discuss nutrition and other lifestyle habits that I felt were immensely important for their health and longevity. I was scared and not sure whether I would be successful, but I had a vision of a beautiful practice that would help nurture, support, and empower families. Finally, with the support of my husband, I acquired the courage to give it a try.
I opened the doors to Nourish Wellness four years ago. Being an entrepreneur and a business owner has taught me so many lessons, but it has also given me so much experience and confidence. I love being my own boss, setting my schedule, making the decisions for my practice and having the freedom that it provides. Although there are definitely things that I miss about being employed and being part of a larger group, I am so glad that I accepted the risk to pursue my dreams.
During the past few years I have also elected to take extra training in plant-based nutrition, have become a certified food for life instructor, as well as a certified health and wellness coach. Most recently, I became board certified in lifestyle medicine. All of my talents, passions, and interests have all coalesced together in my dream job. I love sharing potentially life-saving information with others through my podcast Veggie Doctor Radio and on social media.
My advice to you is don’t give up on your dreams and don’t settle. We live in a day and age where you can create the career that you desire. However, life changes and things evolve over time. Keep an open mind, keep learning and follow your passions and desires. I believe that I do much better work and serve my patients at a higher level when I am happy and fulfilled.