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Congratulations, you’re a mother—and a doctor!

Lisa Clayton’s firstborn arrives at the same time as her medical school diploma

By Anita Martin and Nick Piotrowicz 

As a former emergency medicine technician, Lisa Clayon, D.O., knows that urgent medical situations require quick adaptability and sound decision-making. But when she went into labor the same morning as her commencement ceremony at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM), Clayton’s medical instincts had to compete with her emotions.

“My water broke around 3:30 [a.m.], but I was in denial,” she said, laughing. “I really wanted to attend graduation, and I refused to let my husband take me to the hospital at first. I said, ‘this can wait until after the ceremony!’”

Clayton soon gave in, arriving at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital around 5:30 a.m. She gave birth to Andrew David Clayton (seven pounds, 11 ounces, 20 inches) nine hours later at 2:27 p.m. The two attending physicians who helped deliver Andrew were OU-COM graduates Jody Gerome Zuchowski, D.O. (’05), assistant professor of ob/gyn, and Linda Ross, D.O. (’07).

Shortly thereafter, the O’Bleness Birth Center received the highest volume of visitors the nurses can recall—mostly dressed in graduation gowns. 

“[Andrew] saw more doctors in one day than any baby ever has,” Clayton joked, adding that “the family atmosphere of OU-COM really came through. My dad couldn’t believe that 40-plus people showed up in the waiting room on their own graduation day.” 

Among them were Clayton’s mentor, Nicole Wadsworth, D.O. (’97), assistant professor of family medicine and assistant dean of preclinical education; and Nicholas Espinoza, D.O. (’90), CORE assistant dean, who coordinated Clayton’s third- and fourth-year clinical rotations at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, a member of OU-COM’s statewide consortium of teaching hospitals, the Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education.

The next day, Wadsworth returned to O’Bleness, along with OU-COM Dean Jack Brose, D.O., to conduct a personal graduation ceremony for Clayton. Wadsworth draped Clayton’s ceremonial graduation hood over her shoulders, Brose presented her diploma, and she took the traditional Osteopathic Oath—all in the company of her family members. 

“I can’t emphasize enough how much it meant to me that the dean of a medical school would take the time to come to the hospital on a Sunday and personally hand me my diploma,” she said. 

Clayton is well-versed in urgent medical situations, by anyone’s standards. As a former emergency medicine technician (EMT), she was among the first responders after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. 

“Our volunteer unit was sent to Ground Zero after the first plane hit. By the time we got there, the second plane had hit,” Clayton said. “We spent four days searching for survivors.”

The New Jersey native was recognized for her efforts with a national September 11 Volunteer Recognition Award. She also received a TOUCH Pin Award at OU-COM (given to those with more than 50 hours of community service through the college’s program, Translating Osteopathic Understanding into Community Health) and two Vincent Terranova Awards, given in her hometown of Lawrenceville, N.J., to outstanding local volunteers.

Clayton next moved on to Fort Rucker, Alabama, where she worked in a United States Army Aeromedical Research Lab for two years, designing cockpits for fighter jets and monitoring pilots’ capacities for cardiovascular stress. 

On deciding to become a doctor, Clayton looked into OU-COM on the suggestion of her Ohio-native father. “I knew I wanted to do osteopathic medicine, and when I came for the interview, it was a perfect fit,” she said.

During her medical training, Wadsworth could tell that Lisa knew the field of emergency medicine very intimately.  

“She has great medical knowledge and a much broader understanding than most when it comes to emergency medicine,” said Wadsworth, who also serves as medical director of the O’Bleness Emergency Department.

“Lisa has a very great ability to interact with people,” Wadsworth added. “Her presence inspires trust and comfort. That allows her to get information quickly and build rapport, which is critical because of the time constraints.”  

Clayton says her training at OU-COM taught her the “other side of things”—what goes on after patients are admitted for emergency treatment. “It’s really neat working on this level: receiving patients, assessing and treating the disease process and educating patients on prevention.” 

On July 27, Clayton will begin an emergency medicine residency at Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey.

“[Morristown Memorial was] nice enough to give me four extra weeks off,” she said, then adds with a laugh, “to give me a more lenient initial schedule, they’re starting me off with one month of obstetrics.”


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Last updated: 01/28/2016