Yolanda López López, MD, MA, a rheumatologist in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, says she’s been writing “forever.” But when she was in high school, several teachers, counselors and others persuaded her against selecting writing as a profession or even getting a college degree in literature because she wouldn’t be able to earn a comfortable living. At the time, she was told that good-paying writing jobs were simply not to be found.
Explore this issueFebruary 2019
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So Dr. López chose medicine, her other passion, as her career and has served in private practice for more than 30 years. She never stopped writing, though, and in 2011, earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, a private college in Puerto Rico. She has now had a novel published and is completing a second novel and an assortment of short stories while working on two books about rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
“Writing gives me a lot of energy,” she says. “It frees your mind. You can create, travel, go back and forth in time. It’s like you’re living in that time or space. You can actually feel it.”
Dr. López completed her medical education at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. Initially, she wanted to pursue a career in psychiatry. But during her fourth year of medical school, she completed a rotation in psychiatry and changed her mind.
“I became depressed,” recalls Dr. López. “[Psychiatry] was too much. But when I went into rheumatology during my rotation, I just fell in love with the patients and the challenges of trying to find things out. They have a sign or symptom, and you keep searching until you find out what the
She graduated from medical school in 1980, finished her internship in 1981, completed her two–year residency program in 1983, and then spent another two years in rheumatology. In 1985, she opened her private practice.
During the 1990s, she conducted research at her office on rheumatology drugs, including Vioxx and Forteo. From 1996 to 2008, she served as a speaker for MSD, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and others on such topics as osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Fiction to Biographies
While pursuing a successful career in medicine, Dr. López never abandoned writing. Her MA thesis was actually a novel, La caída de Alejandro Curtos (The Fall of Alejandro Curtos).