Early life and education
Scott was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, and was inspired to become a physician by both her father and uncle. Her father was a dentist, and his dental office was the source of Scott's early exposure to medicine where she helped on Saturday mornings by cleaning dental instruments, editing information on charts, and organizing patient documents. Scott's father suffered from a heart attack when she was in the third grade. However, he lived through it and later encouraged Scott to become a surgeon. Not only was Scott inspired by her father, but her uncle was a thoracic surgeon and President of the hospital where he worked in Chicago.
In Troy, New York, Scott attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for her undergraduate education, and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1970. She then moved on to the New York University School of Medicine, and graduated in 1974, despite being a victim of sexism and racism in the medical field during that time. She remained in New York City for internships and residency at both St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center and St. Clare's Hospital and Health Center. Scott continued her residency as a thoracic surgeon at Boston University Medical Center from 1977 to 1979. She then returned to New York City from Boston for residencies at St. Clare's Hospital and Health Center, once again, and New York Medical College, where she specialized in cardiac surgery and general surgery. By doing this, Scott became the first African American woman to establish a residency in cardiothoracic surgery. Scott continued her training in cardiovascular surgery as a fellow at the Texas Heart Institute, where she was the first ever to receive the Mary A. Fraley cardiovascular fellowship in 1980. In 1994, Dr. Scott received a Masters of Science in Health Administration from the University of Colorado College of Business.
In 1981, after Scott completed her postgraduate education, she was appointed as an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. She stayed in Houston until 1983, when she was then appointed as the assistant professor of surgery at UCLA and the Charles R. Drew School of Medicine and Science. While at Drew University, Dr. Scott served as the associate director of the general surgery residency program (1990-1997), vice chair for research and academic affairs in the surgery department (1991-1997), as well as the director of the Drew Surgical Research Group (1993-1997). She was also an associate research professor (1994-1997) and adjunct professor (1998-2001) at the School of Health Administration and Policy at Arizona State University. While she had her appointment at the Drew Medical Center, Dr. Scott was also on the surgical staff of the Brotman Medical Center and the Harbour-UCLA Medical Center. While working at these locations, she focused on research for occupational stress within surgical residents and the health disparities in cardiovascular and lung cancer care. In 1987, she left UCLA, and in 2007, she left Drew for Wright State University, where she is currently a professor as well as the Chief of Surgical Services at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio.
Throughout Scott's career, she has been a pioneer for African-American women in her field. The first African-American woman thoracic surgeon, she was also the first African-American woman to be admitted to the Society of University Surgeons. She co-founded two organizations to support other surgeons and encourage students to fight discrimination: the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, founded in 1986, and the Association of Black Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons, founded in 1999.
Scott has conducted extensive research over the years pertaining to the thorax region of the body. Her research includes health care disparities affecting people with cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, and occupational stress affecting surgeons. She has served on numerous research boards as well as created other organizations for cardiovascular and thoracic doctors, including the Association of Black Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons.
Honors, awards, and distinctions
- The first African American woman to be trained in thoracic surgery (1977)
- The first Mary A. Fraley Fellow, Texas Heart Institute (1980)
- Founding member, Society of Black Academic Surgeons (1986)
- First African American woman to become a member of the Society of University Surgeons (1995)
- Founding member, Association of Black Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons (1999)
- Former President, Women in Thoracic Surgery 
- "Changing the Face of Medicine | Dr. Rosalyn P. Scott". www.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "CUMC Hosts Exhibit Honoring Prominent African-American Surgeons". Columbia University Medical Center. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
- "A Pioneering Cardiothoracic Surgeon" (PDF). NYU Physician. New York University. 2010. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
- "Rosalyn P. Scott, M.D., M.S.H.A - Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons". www.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "Rosalyn P Scott | people.wright.edu | Wright State University". people.wright.edu. Retrieved 2016-03-08.