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Musician and physician: DPN urologist excels in both

When you hear about a surgeon who also is an outstanding musician, it shouldn’t surprise you. After all, both require a high level of technical skill, complex thinking and persistence to master. Some studies have even found increased grey matter in the brain, which is associated with increased skills, as a result of musical training.

For Michael Yu, MD, a urologist with Dayton Physicians Network and a first-generation Asian American, playing an instrument was a requirement set by his parents when he was a child.

“If I wasn’t a physician, I’d probably be a musician,” he observed. Dr. Yu can play seven instruments, including piano, clarinet, three saxophones, guitar and violin.

While playing an instrument was mandatory, having an actual career in music wasn’t a possibility he felt he could consider. Dr. Yu said he always knew he would become a doctor. His father, his aunts and uncles on his mother’s side, and his grandparents—all of them are physicians.

“For me, it was never really a question,” Dr. Yu said about his career path. He considered a career as a trauma surgeon for a short time before being influenced by two of his uncles to consider urology.

Dr. Yu said urology allows him not only to care for his patients, which is why he enjoys being a doctor, but also to develop lasting relationships with them. Many of the conditions Dr. Yu treats are chronic, allowing him to provide a continuum of care and to work with his patients in developing treatment plans that allow for their input. 

From removing kidney stones and helping older patients with enlarged prostates, to treating conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, Dr. Yu truly enjoys the work he does.

“It gives me a good sense of satisfaction to be able to help people and show them the results of what we do,” Dr. Yu said, who often presents patients with kidney stones removed during their surgeries.

When Dr. Yu is in the operating room, music is still a part of his routine. “I listen to pretty much anything but rap and country music,” he said.

Choosing to practice in Dayton

Dr. Yu performed his undergraduate work at Dartmouth, his medical degree is from NYU, and he completed his residency at Washington University in Saint Louis. He was offered a job at the Cleveland Clinic and chose Dayton Physicians Network instead. Dr. Yu became the first urologist in Dayton to perform robotic pyeloplasty for ureteropelvic junction obstruction, which removes a blockage occurring where the kidney meets the ureter.

“I think Dayton is a very good medical community that is underrecognized nationally,” he said when asked why he settled in the Miami Valley. “I would put us up against Ohio State, Cincinnati and the Cleveland Clinic.”

At the end of a long day, of which there are plenty, Dr. Yu says he enjoys playing the piano, watching movies, hiking and even playing video games from time to time.

“I find myself with less and less free time to spend with my wife and kids,” said Dr. Yu, who recently celebrated his 20-year wedding anniversary and has two boys, ages 15 and 18. “Being involved in medicine isn’t easy…and it’s not really for everybody. You have to be completely committed to it.”

Between paperwork and preparing for his surgeries the next day, Dr. Yu said he often works two to three hours each night after his family goes to bed. With the amount of labor he puts in, he doesn’t see either of his sons carrying on the family tradition of becoming a physician. In fact, one of his sons is also interested in music, and Dr. Yu said he would support whatever direction their lives take them.

“People say, ‘You’re in it for the money,’” Dr. Yu said, “But I really do like what I do. Actually, I love what I do, and I think I’m pretty good at it. I’d like to keep doing it as long as I can.”

If you’d like to make an appointment with Dr. Yu, contact Dayton Physicians Network at 937-293-1622.

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