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Today’s guest is Dr. Francis Yoo. Listen in as he discusses career happiness, burnout and being true to oneself!

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Today’s Guest

Francis Yoo, DO

Dr. Francis Yoo, D.O. is a born-and-raised New Yorker. He received his BA in Philosophy and Mathematics from NYU and his DO medical degree from NYCOM. He completed a combined 4 year residency training program in Family Medicine and Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine / Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. He also received training in medical acupuncture, clinical homeopathy, and hundreds of hours of CME in Osteopathic Manipulation.

He is board certified in Family Medicine, Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine / Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, Integrative Medicine and has additional qualifications in Pain Medicine. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Acupuncture and of the Center of Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy. He also has education in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Functional Medicine, and Lifestyle Medicine.

 Francis has spent 5 years in corporate clinical medicine and in GME as an associate program director or program director. He has taught and precepted medical students on clinical rotations as well as residents from multiple residency programs in clinical and didactic settings.

Dr. Yoo is a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Practitioner, is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, completed the Enneagram Institute’s teaching curriculum, and graduated from the altMBA program. He has way too many books with topics ranging from finance/business to philosophy (eastern, western, and more) with some to Japanese manga and light novels here and there. His interests include Jungian Analytic Psychology and dream analysis, credit card miles/points, Japanese anime and role-playing games, pizza, sushi, and playing the electric guitar with a lot of distortion.

He has recently published a book “Physician Freedom: Living Your Authentic Physician Life” as a companion to his coaching / consulting program and is currently writing his second book “Covid Contemplations for self-awareness and personal development.”

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Key Takeaways

  • Dr. Yoo feels that many early career physicians are dissatisfied due to the feeling of “this is not what I signed up for.”
  • Francis feels that the excess red tape and bureaucracy put a heavy burden on physicians.
  • He emphasizes that people choose medicine in order to make an impact on people’s lives.
  • Francis discusses that physicians need to find what is right for them professionally and leverage their skills and interests.

“So the answer is no, I am not happy where I am right now but that’s why I am moving toward a life where I know I will be happy.”


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Check out other great episodes with Michelle Flemmings, MD and Karen Panzarella PT, PhD, CHSE


All opinions expressed by the guest in this episode are solely the guest’s opinions and do not reflect the opinions of Andrew Tisser DO, Talk2MeDoc LLC, or any affiliates thereof. The guest’s opinions are based upon information he considers reliable, but Andrew Tisser DO, Talk2MeDoc LLC, nor any affiliates thereof warrant its completeness or accuracy. The guest, Andrew Tisser DO, Talk2MeDoc LLC, or any affiliates thereof are not under any obligation to update or correct any information provided in this episode. The guest’s statements and opinions are subject to change without notice.


Andrew Tisser 0:01
Dr. Francis, Yoo Welcome to the Talk2MeDoc podcast.

Francis Yoo 0:14
Hi, thank you for having me, Andrew.

Andrew Tisser 0:17
Absolutely. Well, I recorded a very nice bio that you provided to me for the listeners already. But in your own words, could you give us a brief synopsis of who you are, what you do and what your role is in healthcare?

Francis Yoo 0:30
Yeah. So right now I’m employed in a hospital full time doing corporate clinical medicine insurance company, yada yada all that mostly do primary care and outpatient setting. work with students residents, also program director for one of the residency program programs at a hospital. So administrative work JME work seeing patients on my own precepting residents Yeah, I’m sure they do. They’re things I’ve done before. Like, I was the vice chair of the Family Medicine Department at our hospital and a lot of different things. But right now, I’m mostly transitioning out actually, of my corporate clinical medicine career, and I’m transitioning to do working on my private practice and doing non clinical work.

Andrew Tisser 1:28
Very cool. So you certainly wear a lot of hats. Yeah. And I hear you just wrote a book. What is that about?

Francis Yoo 1:37
Yeah, so it was almost a combination of ideas I’ve had for the past, I don’t know almost two decades, I was always into philosophy, philosophy, especially existential philosophy. always been into books, courses and waste to personal development. about myself because as you, as you know, doctors aren’t taught to how to be human in a way they’re taught to, to do this and do that. We’re not taught to, you know, how to run a practice how to personal development and uphold our values and all that.

So I was always into sort of personal development. And I saw this as an opportunity, especially for myself, to be caught in a way my journey and to share with others show that we have to be responsible for our journeys in a way, and we can’t really, oh, we can, but we shouldn’t live a life that other people want us to live. We really have to live the life we want to live. It’s not like the end of the day. We living our own lives. So the idea behind the book is to encourage physicians to find the Life that’s authentic for them.

And now that’s kind of hard because our education system is all about making us exchangeable replaceable. And let’s say a Board Certified radiologist, to the hospital doesn’t like that person. They Oh, we don’t like you. So we’ll find another force certified radiologist just means that you have the same qualifications. So, the idea behind that book, it’s called position freedom, living your authentic position life. It’s really, it’s a manual. It’s partly inspiration, but also a practical way to figure out what it is that the reader wants to do with their life professionally and personally.

Andrew Tisser 3:44
Yeah, that’s, I mean, certainly no small feat to write a book. So congratulations on that. Thank you. Thank you. I haven’t read it yet. But I it’s on the docket. Especially I think in these trying times, physicians are made money more aware of their of their mortality in a way and how susceptible we are to factors aren’t sat around. So it’s important that we can live our best life.

So thank you for writing that book. I you know this this show focuses on a few things, communication within healthcare and now with more of a focus on the healthcare worker experience and early career physician burnout, I think you’re especially interesting guests to have on the show because you are both an early career physician and you’re in a position where you are a mentor to residents and younger physicians. So do you could you comment on some of the early burnout we’re seeing in both our residents and our early career attendings?

Unknown Speaker 4:54
So can you repeat that last part?

Andrew Tisser 4:56
Yeah, so I’m saying the now that we’re seeing a lot more More burnout and dissatisfaction within both our residents and our early career attendings as well, a person who is both an early career doc and someone who mentors residents. Can you comment on some of the factors leading to that?

Francis Yoo 5:16
Yeah, yeah, I think the major item is that this isn’t quite what we signed up for. So I just happened to be looking at my personal statements for my medical school and residency as I was, you know, doing applications, and no way that I say, my dream job is to be talking to insurance companies, doing prior authorizations, going through loopholes and trying to get what’s good for my patient by talking with other people.

Besides my patients, focusing on the computer, doing all these things, but a reality People go into medicine wants to make an impact, whether directly or indirectly to patients with a health care system, and no one signs up for I want to have form traumatic stress disorder, that’s kind of what I call it. People don’t sign up and say, I want to become a doctor.

So I can go through a lot of red tape and things like that. And I think compared to the more veteran physicians who have been around, they had a transition from a old framework order framework to a newer framework. But now residents and early career positions are realizing quickly, this isn’t what I signed up for. We signed up for pay us our intellect, our desire to know science and the arts and help people and we didn’t sign up for to have to get through multiple layers. To get do that

Andrew Tisser 7:02
so what do we do about it Francis?

Francis Yoo 7:05
Wow that is an excellent question. So So I think there are I’ve realized there are three answers people have given number one is to change a system which it’s a very daunting task Anna, I know you are in the various Facebook groups has been part of trying to change that and talking with the powers that be and the government to do that. But it can be daunting and add that to a full days and full week of work and it’s you really have to be passionate about something you have the desire to get done.

And the the other things I’ve seen is that hospitals and an ACGME , what they’re trying to do is say, Oh, you have to provide wellness, you have to provide These things to positions and you see these, I don’t know what it is cake cookies meditation sessions, which I’m not saying they’re a bad thing but in reality, really the point of that is to retain the position it’s to say, we want you to be well so that you can stay with us. I

It’s not it’s the does an ulterior motive, maybe an ulterior motive, that’s an additional motive to keep the position so they don’t have to find someone to replace them. And the third thing I have seen is that people offer different options, let’s say a non clinical career or resources to do this or that which is again, great. But for for me, and the reason that I wrote the book is to tell people, there are so many options and there are so many things that need to be done has to be done. One physician, even a small group of physicians can’t do everything.

What I believe is people who really, really want to do clinical medicine should the clinical medicine, people who don’t want to do clinical, clinical medicine should do something else. I think the generally, at least myself, I don’t want to be taken care of, by a doctor who doesn’t want do clinical medicine. And I think if all physicians found the place, the career, the life that really makes sense to them, all fall into place, in a way. So it’s better than what we should do. I think it’s a more of a, what is what we think our life’s work should be.

There are physicians who are really, really into getting things moving in the government making changes with trying to make changes about medical school tuition, and you’re involved in that you’re involved in that as well. And honestly, that’s Not my what I want to do in my life not that I don’t support that those movements, but every every position should focus on what they love to do, how they want to support a healthcare system and their patients and just to leverage everything that they have interest skills, education training, to make a change that fits what is that their skill set and the interests?

Andrew Tisser 10:27
Well, what do you say to someone Francis that says he will I hate this, you know, I hate medicine. But I don’t have any other interests or I don’t I don’t know what to do. You know, this is all I know. And, and this is all you know, I’m stuck in this system. What do I do?

Francis Yoo 10:45
Yeah, so I definitely heard that. In my facebook group, I wanted the questions to get in, or I like to know is that what are your skills and interests outside of medicine? And yeah, about half the people say they have certain interests. And but there are some that say I have no other skills, no other interests outside of medicine. And I think that’s one of the faults of the education and the training system is that they don’t teach physicians to know themselves.

I can guarantee they’re every position, every person have things they’re interested in. It’s just a matter of practicing exercises as doing things that let you become more aware of yourself. I think one of the great exercises that I’ve heard is, let’s say you had three extra hours, on a weekend you’re off. You don’t have to work. In fact, you don’t have maybe you don’t, you don’t have you don’t even have internet access. What would you do in those three hours besides eating, sleeping and things like that? I think the way we ask the question can help people figure out what it is that they’re interested in.

And that is partly what I do in, in my work as a coach and consultant is to really draw out the physicians interests, their purpose, their vision, and their values. Its its people have them it’s just sometimes they need a little poll, kinda like Kyle, Socrates. The philosopher, asked questions to have the person he’s talking to, to reveal things about what’s going on, as opposed to telling people this is this, you’re wrong. You have skills and interest, what are you talking about, which may help but in the end, it’s really about from the inside out and realizing that we’re we’re people positions that people and we have things that we’re called to do in life.

Andrew Tisser 12:59
And those are Great points, I think honestly, I think to say, and I hear it all the time myself is I don’t have any other interests. And I, I think that’s part of the brainwashing of our medical education to some degree. Yeah. But I think that’s nonsense, right. I mean, you you had interests in when you were in high school and when you were in college and medicine, you know, medicine is my life is, is an absurd notion. I think you can love your job, but it’s still your job. Right.

Francis Yoo 13:28
I think another way to look at it is during your job, what are the things you’re drawn to? Are you drawn to the diagnosis part? Are you are you attracted to the finding patterns? Are you attracted to the human connection? Are you interested in the workflow? Are you interested in how the nurses and physicians and other staff communicate? So even during the actual work Bay, there are things that everyone gravitates towards. So I think that’s another way to find interests. side of medicine is just, it’s done in a medicine environment. Sure.

Andrew Tisser 14:05
I mean, I think early in my journey, it was more about like, Oh, I gotta get out of this. I got to try this, try that. Try it, you know, like trying a million things, but that was just trying to escape rather than running towards something that I actually enjoyed. And that doesn’t. That doesn’t work, you know? I mean, I agree with trying different things. But I think if you’re just trying to run away from medicine, instead of knowing what what interests you and what, what you actually enjoy, you’re not gonna get very far. And I think that’s kind of your whole philosophy and program.

Yep. Yeah, I understand it. So, you know, back to the the the issue of communication in medicine. Do you think that that poor, you know, we see a lot of poor communication within the team itself between the docs and nurses and texts and things like that. Do you think that is a cause of the burnout crisis, or is that a downstream effect? have burnt out clinicians.

Francis Yoo 15:06
we’ve always had communication issues. People like to speak in different ways. I occasionally break out with metaphors or analogies. Some people prefer straightforward, A to Z discussions. But really, people have been like that for years. It’s not as if, in the past 10 2030 years, we’ve invented new psychological ways of perceiving and giving information. Yeah, we have email and phones and things like that. But reality in the end, it’s just verbal or written communication, which we’ve had for a decent amount of time.

What I think it’s the gets in the middle of the communication is that there are so many more Things to communicate. There are more things to say more things to report, more things more red tape to communicate about more eyes to dot more T’s to cross. And then just because you have so much to do and talk about that certain things get lost. Or now you need to hire someone else whose specialty is working on communication, or you need to hire someone whose job is information technology, and just the more people you have on the team, it’s just the layers of communication and the permutations of who talks to whom. That just increases. Not to say that there aren’t benefits of the system, but it makes things more drawn out and makes barriers to communication thing. That’s the one I’m trying to say there’s so many barriers to communication and that just takes a toll on people.

Andrew Tisser 17:00
I agree with that. That’s a good point. Do you so loaded question, Francis, are you professionally happy right now?

Francis Yoo 17:08
Yeah, so that’s a very good question. I really like this question. It’s, the technical answer is no. It’s because, uh, my current work. There are things I like about it. But the things I don’t like about it are more than the things I like about it. So as I’ve said before, I see patients in a kind of a corporate clinical medicine scenario, and I’m a Program Director and things like that. So there are things I like about it, but I don’t see myself doing this long term.

I don’t see myself 30-40 years being in this kind of role, and it’s because I’m not entirely happy doing these things. But in a way, for me, what’s more important is that I know that I’m not happy. And I know that I want to make changes and move forward in life to become happy. I think a lot of people don’t realize they’re unhappy. And furthermore, actually, maybe even worse, there are people who know they’re not happy professionally, but say, oh, I’ve been in this work or this so much residency training, or I’ve been working here for 20 years, and it’s kind of stuck here. And yeah, it’s too late to make any changes, things like that. So no, the answer is no, I’m not happy where I am right now. But that’s why I’m moving towards a life where I know I will be more happy.

Andrew Tisser 18:45
Yep, that’s a great point. I think that I’ve been doing this forever. I know nothing else is garbage. Honestly. Yes. You got one life to live right. Yeah. All right. Well, let’s shift the show a little bit to get to know you a little bit more. I know you’re a big reader, but let’s give besides your own book, which we will definitely be linking to, if you could give the readers maybe your top top book ever and a book recommendation of any genre.

Francis Yoo 19:17
Yeah, so I’m going to cheat a little bit and say more than one book. That is a okay. So I’ve always been into the more fantastical, or maybe a science fiction and things, books of that. Of those genres. And recently, I’ve been most of the fiction books I’ve been reading are English translations of Japanese series. And one of the books I really like it’s called Log Horizon. And I won’t go into too much detail but these People who are playing this internet game are suddenly forced into the game.

And so now they’re in their, their bodies that they use in the game. And now they have to try to figure out this human relationships, how the world works, and it brings up a lot of ethical and philosophical questions. And I think in general, I like anything that really asks questions about the human nature and just the nature of things. And I think I’ll answer the second question in a combination here. So it’s a book I recommend, called health care communication, using personality type.

So I am a Myers Briggs Type Indicator, certified practitioner and so a lot of us all about how people prefer different ways to do things how some people prefer to write some people prefer to talk etc. And this is a book that helped me too. realize some people like information in a different way. Some people think more value based Some people think more logically. And I think it’s a good book for it’s relatively short and it’s it’s a definitely something I recommend.

The other book I recommend is called quitting by design. It’s actually by a position. And this position has Dr. Lynn Marie morskie. And she quit a lot of different things, educational pursuits, jobs, careers, and it’s a book almost. It’s a book made to help physicians quit. And not just just leave your life situation and go somewhere else tomorrow. It’s about figuring out what works for you and what needs to leave from your life or what aspects of your life you need to live. And I think that would be helpful for those that are contemplating changes in their life. And yeah, so those are my two book recommendations.

Andrew Tisser 22:07
Great. Yeah. I’ve been meaning to read quitting by design for a while now. I’ve heard her talk on a few podcasts and that’s been on the on the to read list. I gotta get get going on that one. So what do you like to do for fun?

Francis Yoo 22:23
Yeah, so definitely reading. I’ve perennially since my late teens always been interested in philosophy. So really, anything that I’m interested in, has a some sort of philosophical twist. But I also do enjoy playing the guitar. I prefer electric guitar, a lot of heavy distortion, and all that if people say what kind of music I like to play, but honestly, I just do it around and play whatever I want to play could be something moves inspired, are or heavy. Metal inspired or it can just be been folk music inspired.

I like I like to tinker around and combine different bang that’s the play around that’s you know figure out something new and the speak cited by something interesting going on. Let’s see what else I do. I do watch a lot of TV actually not cable though. I’m not the Netflix Hulu kind of person. I’m more of a Crunchyroll Japanese animation type of person. I’m a washed up growing shows like Dragon Ball and things like that since I was three years old. So it’s just a part of my, my growing up as it were, so I could probably speak a lot about that but that could be a whole different episode.

Andrew Tisser 23:55
Great. I do. Let’s see. So if you can’t If you could give physicians early in their career, you know, less than seven years out, including residents just just a single piece of advice. What would it be?

Francis Yoo 24:11

Andrew Tisser 24:17
I’m hitting you with the hard ones today.

Francis Yoo 24:24
Yeah so the way I would answer this is if I were to tell myself great weather yesterday, a year ago or five years ago is, don’t be afraid to say no. or quit something or try something. If we just stuck with knowing one thing, it’ll just never know what else is out there. It won’t discover that. That new pizzeria or that uh, that great deal, etc. We’re just stuck doing the same thing. You may not even whether you like it or not, if you don’t try something else and say, Hey, you know what?

I’m going to try something else stay. And if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to say, don’t be afraid to say no. Now you have to accept the consequences. You’re responsible for saying no. But life is more than just a predetermined path that other people make for you. In the end, what are people gonna say about you? When you’re dead? You know, they’re gonna say, hey, Dr. Francis, you was a great employee.

He did everything he was supposed to be in reality, he didn’t really enjoy his work or his life or his relationship was in shambles, etc. and kind of combining different things here, but what I would say is, number one, learn how to say no and quit things. Number two, try Other new things. And number three is focus on things that are meaningful to you, as opposed to having other people dump their expectations and desires and wish lists upon you.

Andrew Tisser 26:20
Great, powerful. So you wrote the book. You are working on a second book I hear. Yeah. And what’s that one about?

Francis Yoo 26:30
Yeah. So I, in that physician Facebook groups about COVID and occasionally look into other non physician, Facebook groups on COVID. And a lot of the talk is about anxiety, fear, uncertainty, grief loss, and just a total change from what used to be the norm. And Something more to be said, about anxiety in times of uncertainty Besides, let’s get rid of it. let’s let’s let’s manage up here or, or treat anxiety which which those are important things.

But what I’m about is really transformation through the difficulties if we go through life, just avoiding things that are uncomfortable, or things that we don’t like, or, or just things that are things that we’re not perfect in things that were not the best thing. You know what that means we’ll never pick up a musical instrument we’ll never learn to drive a car and things like that.

Similarly, in times of uncertainty, I believe that, yes, we need to. We need coping strategies and we need to see get therapy and things like that, but What the books about it’s called COVID contemplation, it’s really to challenge people to figure out why they do certain things. So the one of my favorite examples is the whole, the college students went to spring break, even though there was this instructions to stay home and, and there’s a lot of power, a lot of powerful messages in that, why did they choose to go to spring break?

Why even knowing the issues and putting themselves and others and major but they still went. But the other aspect of is, there are people that yell and criticize these students from going on spring break, but that also illustrates something about those people making those criticisms as well. So our behaviors, our actions, our emotions, and our thoughts really illustrate a way for us to be more aware of ourselves than for personal development.

So the book is for the general public. It’s not meant for For the general public not targeted towards position specifically is to, is to challenge and encourage people to face their fears and look at us and opportunity in this COVID times to, to see what it’s in themselves become aware of why they feel the way they do, why they do things, why they criticize others, why they do things that they know, they shouldn’t be doing things like that. And these are all avenues to grow and to have personal development. So yeah, so that’s what the book is about.

Andrew Tisser 29:38
Great and you are a physician coach as well.

Francis Yoo 29:44
So the the book I wrote first the physician freedom book is it’s it explains some of the basic ideas I have of my coaching it’s it’s to draw out and Direct people, not by what I’m trying to tell them, but really what is their vision, their purpose and their mission in life. And that that is a tall order for especially for physicians.

So my coaching program focuses on leading people from the inside out, and helping them figure out what it is that they want, number one, number two, to figure it out that we need help everyone needs help, and how to get to where they want to be. And number three is just, sometimes we just need to take action and do the next thing. So yes, so my coaching program has a lot to do with the Yeah, I don’t know what more to say.

Andrew Tisser 30:45
Great. So if people are really into your message and want to find out more about you, how can they find you?

Francis Yoo 30:53
Yeah, so there are a couple of ways. [SEE ABOVE] So, and the I also have a Facebook group. It’s called physician freedom, living your authentic physician life.

Andrew Tisser 31:29
Great. Yep. Everything will be in the show notes for the listeners, Francis is has been a lot of fun. Thank you for coming on the show.

Francis Yoo 31:36
Oh, thank you so much. I’m very grateful for you having me.

Andrew Tisser 31:39
Oh, absolutely. Francis. Well, be safe out there. Take care. keep living your authentic life and we’ll talk soon.

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