Felicia Yu, M.D., CCMS
For health and wellness tips, follow me on Instagram at @dr.feliciayu
- Internal Medicine
- Integrative Medicine (specifically East-West Medicine)
- Culinary Medicine
- Preventative Health
- B.A., Art History (Dartmouth College)
- M.D. (University of Alabama Birmingham)
- Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine (UCLA-Olive View Hospital)
- Fellowship, East-West Primary Care (UCLA Center for East-West Medicine)
- Double Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Integrative Medicine Culinary Medicine Certification (Tulane University)
- Assistant Clinical Professor of Health Sciences in the Division of General Internal Medicine & Health Sciences Research (UCLA Department of Medicine)
- Faculty (UCLA Center for East-West Medicine)
- Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist
1 | What is East-West medicine?
East-West Medicine blends the best of modern Western medicine with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to provide healthcare that is safe, effective, affordable and accessible. It is a sub-specialty within Integrative Medicine which is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.
2 | What is culinary medicine?
Culinary medicine is the practice of helping patients use nutrition and good cooking habits to restore and maintain health. It’s a new field that combines important scientific principles related to nutrition, behavior, and medicine.
3 | What drew you to subspecialize in East-West medicine and culinary medicine?
I loved the idea of having “more tools in my toolbox” when working with patients. Western medicine is excellent when it comes to acute or life-threatening issues. However, East-West medicine and culinary medicine are often a better choice for prevention and certain chronic diseases. It’s great to have different therapeutic modalities to offer patients to find what works best for them and their idea of health and healing.
4 | What advice would you give medical students interested in East-West medicine?
Seek out opportunities inside and outside of your medical school setting! Interested residents and medical students can apply to do a rotation at our center, the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. In addition, we have an integrative medicine summer course offered through UCLA and we collaborate with the Students for Integrative Medicine at UCLA to host an annual integrative medicine conference for those curious to learn more.
5 | Any advice to pre-med students majoring in the arts?
I was an art history major in college and am SO happy that I chose to study something outside of the sciences. Don’t be afraid to major in something you’re passionate about (even if it’s a “nonconventional major” for a med school application), it will enhance and broaden your skillset as a physician, giving you a more unique and creative perspective when caring for patients. In addition, it makes you stand out during interviews.
6 | What is a typical day like for you?
I see patients Monday through Thursday 8a-5p and Friday 7a-4p. I spend half my day seeing internal medicine patients as a primary care doctor. The other half of the day, I’m seeing East-West patients for a specific issue. I do acupuncture, trigger point injections, and spend time discussing self-care (stretches, diet, stress management, self-massage, sleep optimization, exercise) to empower patients to learn how to help and heal themselves. New patient visits are one hour and return patient visits are thirty minutes.
7 | What do you like the most and least about being an East-West primary care physician?
Most: Because I spend so much time talking about balance, moderation, and good self-care, I now integrate the East-West philosophy, tips, and tools in my own life which has been fantastic. In addition, I am able to help my patients from both a reductionist and a holistic perspective (simultaneously seeing the forest through the trees but also appreciating the trees)
Least: It can be emotionally taxing at times.
8 | How much sleep do you get every night? How many hours do you work per week? How many vacation days do you take per year?
I typically sleep 6-8 hrs every night. I work 45-50 hours per week, including charting and notes. I have the option of taking 24 vacation days a year, and I usually take 20-24 days of vacation per year.
9 | How do you maintain your work-life balance?
Taking vacation is a MUST for true work-life balance. “I practice what I preach:” I meditate, spend time in nature, take art classes, exercise, spend A LOT of time with people I love, and also spend alone time. I’ve also learned the importance of setting boundaries and being ok with saying “no.” For more information about that, I highly recommend the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown.
10 | Are you satisfied with your financial compensation, such that you can manage your student loan debt (if any)?
Yes, no problem managing my student loan debt and still having enough to enjoy my life outside of work.
11 | What has been your most fulfilling professional experience?
I had a 51 yr old woman establish primary care with me this past year. She had already been diagnosed with metastatic cancer with a very poor prognosis. I saw her in my clinic only once. In the last few months of her life, I would get electronic notifications that she was in and out of the hospital. So, I messaged her through the EMR to offer her any help and support. I will never forget her reply and will always remember that if I practice medicine with humanity and patient safety in mind, I will always be making the right decision:
Dear Dr. Yu,
I just wanted to thank you for your check-in and fast responses. They have come to me at difficult moments and were so appreciated. We may sometimes be limited in fully understanding the mechanisms of the inner body, but you understand the heart and that is one of the greatest healers.
With all my gratitude,
12 | There is a shortage of primary care physicians in the USA. How can we encourage more medical students to pursue primary care?
Primary care is truly about the doctor-patient relationship. It’s a chance to have an impact and shape a person’s concept of his or her health in the long run, and ultimately the health of their family, their community, and this country. Primary care doctors are the foundation of our healthcare structure. They are the first point of contact for every patient and are given the responsibility to guide patients through an otherwise confusing system.