Today we’d like to introduce you to Felicia Yu.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Alabama (Gadsden and Birmingham). I grew up in a medical family with my father as an anesthesiologist and my mother as a cardiovascular operating room nurse. My parents, my dad in particular, always hoped my brothers and I would end up in medicine. Being Chinese immigrants, my parents believed in the “American dream” and hoped that their hard work and sacrifice would one day open doors and give their children opportunities that they never had.
Years later, they would send all three of us to Ivy League Schools; I went to Dartmouth College and my two younger brothers attended Brown University. In college, I fell in love with art history and dreamt of curating art exhibitions (not exactly in my dad’s dreams for me although he remained supportive). In a twist of fate, I worked for my OBGYN during my junior year and fell even more in love with medicine and decided it was my path. I’m pretty sure my dad breathed an audible sigh of relief when I told him.
I attended the University of Alabama in Birmingham for medical school, decided on internal medicine at UCLA-Olive View because of my love for people and primary care, and did a two-year fellowship in East-West primary medicine at UCLA (Chinese medicine and Western medicine combined). I finished my medical training with a certification in culinary medicine through Tulane University.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It was an incredibly bumpy road, but it shaped me into the person and doctor that I am today. During my second year of medical school, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given six months to live. He didn’t want any of us to stop our lives because of him. Thus, I kept plugging away in medical school.
After class or clinical rotations (when I wasn’t on overnight call), I would drive to my parents’ home and spend my evenings studying medicine and watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” with my dad. He underwent radiation and received at least seven different types of chemotherapeutic agents. Unfortunately, my dad experienced many serious side effects from the cancer treatments. He was admitted into the hospital more than a few times. It was eye-opening and heartbreaking to experience both sides of patient care simultaneously. He was receiving medical care at the same university that I was receiving my medical training.
Due to his sheer willpower and the incredible caregiving from my family, especially my mom, he lived for twenty-one months after he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. Oddly enough, my grandmother (my dad’s mother) died three months after him. My remaining two grandparents (my mom’s parents), passed away my first year of internal medicine residency, within three months of each other. I experienced death and dying more intimately and frequently than I could have imagined over those several years.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during my first year of East-West primary care fellowship and my favorite aunt was diagnosed with colon cancer at the end of my fellowship training. Thankfully, they are both alive and well today.
I look back on those nine years of medical training, and can’t believe I got through it in one piece. I couldn’t be more grateful for my family and friends who were there to pick me up each and every day. They are the reason I made it.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m an assistant clinical professor at the Center for East-West Medicine at UCLA. Through my life experiences during medical training, I realized that medicine is not always about curing, but it is always about healing: making one’s quality of life better. We have the luxury of utilizing both ancient medicines and modern medicine to promote healing. With the philosophy of “stronger together,” I combine the best of conventional modern medicine, Chinese medicine, and culinary medicine in my practice. I see primary care patients as well as patients who are referred for a specific health concern that would benefit from Chinese medicine. In addition, I teach and give lectures to medical students, residents, fellows, and people in the community throughout the year.
I’m known around my clinic as the “nutrition expert,” given my personal love of food and my professional love to educate patients on how best to optimize their health through cooking and eating. Ultimately, my job as a provider of health and care is to promote healing and help people understand their bodies better through education and a doctor-patient relationship built on mutual trust and respect.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I think hard work and a bucket load of luck (or perhaps fate) got me into medical school, residency, and fellowship. No question.
- Address: 2336 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 301 Santa Monica, CA 90404
- Website: https://cewm.med.ucla.edu/team/felicia-yu/ and https://www.drfeliciayu.com
- Phone: 310.998.9118
- Instagram: @dr.feliciayu
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Felicia-Yu-MD-2103542793242723/