Amy Yu with American Medical Association Physician of Tomorrow award

Recognized potential

Monday, April 14, 2014by Will Sansom


Medical student Amy Yu is compelled by twin desires: helping others and shaping how health care is delivered.

Amy Yu, an M.D. candidate in May 2014, is already showing the potential to be a compassionate force for change in medicine. When she was young, the Irving, Texas, native decided she wanted to help people.

“I wasn’t sure how that would play out, but after I graduated from college, I worked for a non-profit organization called the Asian Liver Center that focused on raising awareness of the association between hepatitis B and liver cancer,” Amy said. “This problem is highly prevalent in the Asian and Asian-American population. I worked for two physicians who really inspired me that we could impact not only the lives of individuals but the lives of many at the population level. I decided medicine is a way to do both.”

A leader from the get-go

Amy entered the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center in 2010 and quickly made her mark, leading a student team that interviewed 50 leaders in health care about what students need to know about care delivery to successfully navigate in the future.

“Not only is Amy smart, compassionate and dedicated, but she came in with an understanding that few students have about how the organization of health care delivery is a very important contributor to patient outcomes,” said her faculty mentor Luci Leykum, M.D., M.B.A., M.Sc., associate professor of medicine, division chief of hospital medicine, and associate dean for clinical affairs in the School of Medicine.

Amy also was the first student to complete a new administrative summer internship rotating through various areas of UT Medicine San Antonio operations. UT Medicine is the School of Medicine’s clinical practice. Her ideas are benefiting the practice, Dr. Leykum said.
The ideas are also benefiting student education.

“Since her entrance into our school, Amy has been working with us on ways to emphasize health care delivery, economics and policy in the medical student curriculum,” Dr. Leykum said.

AMA recognition

Amy received the American Medical Association (AMA) Physicians of Tomorrow Award in 2013. She was the first student from the School of Medicine — and one of only 20 from the 141 U.S. medical schools — to receive this honor. The AMA established the award in 2004 to help medical students relieve debt incurred due to the rising cost of medical education. The award currently provides $10,000 to each winner.

“The AMA has an application process, and every medical school in the U.S. can nominate one student,” Amy said. “I was in Houston taking a portion of a licensing exam when I received a phone call from the AMA that night. I was so excited I drove to NASA (at Clear Lake) by accident.”
Informed physicians can traverse the divide between the clinical side of health care and the administrative side, Amy said.

“With all the change going on, including the Affordable Care Act, I don’t think there are enough physician voices in the discussion. We need more. Having talked to many administrators and clinicians, there is the sense that our goal, collectively, is to help the patient and we should work together to reach that goal.”