Interview with Dr. Francis Yoo

In today’s interview, Dr. Francis Yoo explains why we must imagine our eulogy in order to pursue freedom and meaning in our lives.

Francis is a born-and-raised New Yorker. He runs a part-time cash-pay, holistic-integrative private practice. And he helps physicians awaken to their potential, do soul-searching, inner work, and profound personal development. His goal is to help them find authentic meaning in their career, relationships, and life.

Francis completed his residency training in family medicine at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is board-certified in Family Medicine, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, and Pain Medicine.
He continued his formal training and certification in acupuncture, integrative medicine, and clinical homeopathy. Finally, he rounded out his coaching education by completing Seth Godin's altMBA program and becoming certified to administer the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram.

Our Sponsor

We're proud to have the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, as the sponsor of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest-running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country. It has over 700 graduates. And, the program only takes one year to complete. 

By joining the UT Physician Executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills you need to find a career that you love. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office at (865) 974-6526 or go to

Pursue Freedom

After his formal medical training, Dr. Yoo chose to pursue his authentic life. He focused on integrating his medical training with Existential Philosophy and Eastern Perspectives. And he now uses that knowledge in his own personal development and with others.

The outer results are great, but it needs to be paired with this inner… journey. Don’t neglect this inner part of you. – Dr. Francis Yoo

More recently, he applied his skills and expertise to create a unique coaching program called Physician Search for Meaning.

How to Live Your Authentic Life

Francis provided us with a good example of how to find meaning during today's conversation. He asked us to imagine preparing our own eulogy or obituary using two perspectives. First, write it based on your life as it is being lived today. Then how it might sound if you were living your authentic life, focused on what is truly important to you. 

He explains that by comparing the stories, you will gain insight into what is truly important and discover how to move closer to the idealized version of your life.


Francis finds his true meaning by practicing medicine part-time and coaching physicians to discover an authentic, fulfilled life. And he can help you to find your authentic life in his programs at

NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode that you can download or read.

Links for Today's Episode:

Download This Episode:

Right Click Here and “Save As” to download this podcast episode to your computer.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, share it on Twitter and Facebook, and leave a review on iTunes.

Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton

PNC Episode 192

To Pursue Freedom Tomorrow You Must Imagine Your Eulogy Today

John: Most physicians are lifelong learners, but today's guest has taken that to a whole new level. He's done a lot of learning, but he's also become certified in multiple fields of study. And he's recently been integrating those areas of expertise through his unique coaching programs to help his fellow physicians. So, Dr. Francis Yoo, welcome to the PNC podcast.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Thank you for having me. I really love that introduction, so thank you.

John: Hey, no problem. It's always a challenge. How shall I introduce this person? But I think that's an accurate one and the listeners will find out why in a minute. But yeah, usually when we get into the podcast, we just start with some of the backgrounds. I'm going to really try to keep it a little bit brief because I think your intro could be like 30 minutes alone. So, the education, the formal education. Hit on some of those certifications and additional training that you've done over the last decade or so.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah, actually I would start with my undergrad because it does play a part in what I do now. So, I double-majored in mathematics and philosophy while doing my pre-med. Then I got my degree, I did my training and a combined family medicine and osteopathic manipulation training. It was a four-year program where you get board eligible in two specialties. I got those two board certifications. I grandfathered into the integrative medicine board. I snuck in the year right before you needed to do the actual fellowship, the standardized fellowship. And also grandfathered into the osteopathic pain, additional qualification. And I also got my medical acupuncture certification licensing as well. And some other non-certification so far things I've done, cognitive behavior therapy, lifestyle medicine, and some other things. So those are my medical education pathways.

John: Okay. And then where did you take them? Did you go into practice right away doing some of those things? How did that flow?

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah. So, after my residency, I went into corporate clinical medicine right away and I put on more hats. I did a lot of different things besides working with residents and students seeing my own patients, mostly in the clinic, but some inpatient consultations. I also did GME work as associate program director, program director, vice-chair to the family medicine department for two years. And I also did some quality improvement projects after I got my Lean Six Sigma Green belt. So, I did a lot of different things and tried a lot of different things. Yeah, that's what I did for five years after residency.

John: All right. Now I feel like just sort of watching you from the sidelines and hearing some podcasts interviews and some other things that I think things seem to be coalescing at this point in some way. Because you've decided, "Okay, I'm going to continue to do some clinical work" and I want to hear more about that, the manipulation, the acupuncture if you're doing that. But you're definitely interested in something outside of the clinical practice now. So, maybe tell us a little bit about how you came to that conclusion and what balance you're trying to strike at this point.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah. That's a perfect word to coalesce what's going on. Basically, I got tired of all, not all, but a lot of things I was doing. The clinical practice structure. I basically quit my GME work, my hospital leadership work. I enjoyed it. I did it while I was there but I just needed to move on and do something else. I call it I've ruled out those things as future career choices I wanted to pursue.

So, I started my clinical practice, which is essentially totally non-pharmacological, non-interventional, manipulation, acupuncture, lifestyle medicine, where I get to really use all the things I've done inside and outside of medicine. And I have no intention of practicing more than one to two days a week ever. I know I like it, but I have plenty of other things I want to do.

And along the way I've done other stuff. I've self-published some books. I've also done medical file reviews and I dabbled in a lot of clinical and nonclinical things. But now, it's really focusing on using everything I've learned to help myself and help others in a way that's really rewarding, really elevates people's integrating their health, but got to have fun while doing it, enjoying my life work. But that also extends into my nonclinical work as well. We spoke briefly in the intro about the coaching aspects.

John: Okay. Well, tell us a little bit about the coaching aspects in more detail, and tell me where you are on that journey. Is it like where you want it to be? Is it influx? What's going on with that?

Dr. Francis Yoo: Not too long ago, I published a guest blog post on Kevin MD actually. I titled it "A Physician's Search for Meaning". And while I'm going through my whole life story, like any other teenager I was concerned with what I'm going to do or who I am. All those existential items, but it never really went away. So, I was very interested in philosophy, psychology, behavior. I became certified in a Myers-Briggs type indicator and the Enneagram and just this consistent continual learning about myself, what meaning is. And I realized a lot of times I was unhappy and I think a lot of other physicians may be unhappy. They just lack meaning in what they're doing. They may be good at it, but there's no meaning behind it. There's that mismatch there, which I think is tragic in a way.

So, my coaching is essentially focused on just that one thing. It's about that inner exploration about does my meaning match with my perception of what I'm doing? I know people talk about work-life balance, but I like to flip that around and say, it's about my life work, as opposed to saying balancing work and life. It's about my life work and helping other doctors find their life work.

And I recently rebranded. I tried different hats, different attire, but what really is meaningful to me, as I call it the physician search for meaning, and I call myself a soul coach. It's really about that soul searching that we don't do in school and training because that doesn't benefit the school or the training program. It only benefits the person who's getting that experience. So, yeah, that's what I'm doing.

And in terms of your question about where it is, it's fresh and I always like to update things because I'm constantly learning. I'm even considering studying more psychoanalysis and maybe pursuing psychoanalytic training. So, I get to just continually improve things and integrate things from everything to everything. Modern academics to ancient texts to whatever it may be. I'm just that deep and breadth kind of a knowledgeable person.

John: Well, that's helpful. A lot of us physicians, we're kind of concrete in a way and sort of like, "Okay, I need to be able to categorize something". It's life coaching. It's career coaching, soul searching. Now that is going to be a whole broad topic. So yeah, the soul coaching.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yes, yes. Exactly.

John: But I think there are a lot of people that I could think of right now that might really benefit from that.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah. And you talk to people doing all these courses. Learning about real estate for doctors and finances for doctors or career for doctors, all of them. A lot of them I see, the concern is this "why" question in there. What is your "why" to do this? But for me, I won't talk about that for 10 weeks or just really get to the bottom of it because I think it's just so important. Plus, it's what I'm just so excited to talk about.

John: Well, I want to go deeper into what this looks like for you because part of the purpose of this podcast is to inspire people and show physicians that you can create something that is in balance or that is fun and fulfilling and satisfying and has meaning. So, I

want to kind of get a picture for your day or your week, what that would look like and how you balance the actual work you're doing clinically and non-clinically.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah. So right now, my practice is two days a week. So, Mondays, and it's going to be Fridays. So, two days a week maximum. And where I'm in the office, physically with patients, it's just as a nature of my particular practice, manipulation, and acupuncture. It's just I would say impossible, really hard to do from a digital standpoint.

John: Let me stop you right there for a minute, if I can, only because I want to know what a typical visit is, like for, let's say a new patient that's coming in. Only because I want to really contrast it with what most physicians are doing.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah. So, I've adapted a lot of the online resources we have now. So first I do a 15-minute call, just to make sure they know who I am. They're not calling the wrong doctor Yoo, they're not looking for a doctor Woo. You found the right doctor Yoo. And then I told them, this is my price, this is how I work. And I let them know so that we're a good fit to work together, which is a model that I've seen other people use outside of medicine. So, it's a 5-to-10-minute conversation.

And then I set up a 30-minute history intake, whereas on the phone, I don't need them in front of me to do their history. Actually, it's easier if they're home, they have their meds, their records. It's like, "Oh, I don't know what meds I'm taking". Well, you're at home. Go to your cabinet and go look for them. And then I do my history. I write it all down. And then when they come into the office, it's just straight into the actual manipulation and acupuncture. My sessions are 45 minutes right now.

John: That just sounds so cool because I think of my attorney. I walk into the office. It's going to be an hour visit. I'm going to get charged for an hour and we're going to get everything they need from me. And they're not going to try and squeeze it into a 10-minute visit like most family physicians do. So, that's the part I'm really keying in on. And it's obviously going to be very more satisfying for you and for the patient because you've both come to that agreement to begin with. And the part about getting the interview at home, it just kills me because I'm still doing some urgent care and maybe I'll have like a 70-year-old Medicare patient walk in with something it's not even kind of appropriate for urgent care and they didn't bring any meds and have no list and I know there are at least 12 meds. It's crazy.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah, yeah. So, they're home. You don't know? Well, your records should be somewhere, go get them.

John: Yeah. Just go in the bathroom, pull out your badge where you keep them stored, and run them down. Well, what do you think? I like to think about how this can help other listeners right now, this aspect of it. Do you feel like that at least let's say a family physician, a pediatrician, or someone who is in private practice, maybe they have their own practice that is still kind of like churning the patients through? Do you feel like they could use this model, maybe adjust it and apply it to what they're doing?

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah. I think for me the need came out of, "I have no employees". So, I needed to maximize the efficiency using all these online resources, whether it's acuity, Calendly, scheduling automation, et cetera. So, it came out of necessity. And I learned from optimizing my calendar and my scheduling and all of this, to optimize the time that I'm there in the actual office with the patients. And it also helps me build rapport with patients because the best way to build rapport is just to listen. We all have the statistics, doctors don't listen or whatever. Sometimes they just talk for 20 minutes. I'm just typing out my history and I can ask them five questions and that's it. And I also don't like being rushed. So that's the other reason I do this.

But again, anything in medicine takes so long to catch up with any sort of innovation. Just look out there though that people are using technology in ways that are very useful. I just need to find ways to make it work. And sometimes it's that necessity that drives that innovation. So, there's some way to make it better. We just think, "Oh, this is fine. Why improve it?" So, there are definitely ways to make it better. Someone figured it out. It's just applying it to your situation.

John: Yeah. It's funny when you talk about just listening. It just reminds me that, sometimes if you just listen, you will get 99% of the information you need without necessarily directing the patient or the client in a certain way. So, that sounds awesome. It's very satisfying for you and it's also very satisfying for the patient because the biggest complaint of patients that I'm aware of is this doctor just doesn't listen and doesn't really know what's going on with me and then tells me to do something that doesn't really fit with my real problem.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah, definitely.

John: So now on the other side though, the coaching side. First of all, I want to mention your website it's, right?

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yes, that's it.

John: So, in case some of my listeners don't listen to the very end, go check it out because really everything you're doing is there more or less. And even you have a link to your practice. So that could be something they can look at and kind of model for their own practice, I would think. Okay. And this other side, one of the things that I heard you talked about in this coaching side and working with people as a coach was walking through this exercise of writing their own eulogy, which I don't know. I think I may have heard something, but it just struck me when you were talking about it. So, I'd like you to explain more about how one might do that and just walk us through it.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah. I'll explain the exercise in person, then describe what the intention is. So, it's a two-part exercise where you first can either write or deliver whether you're a verbal or written person, you can write or deliver your obituary eulogy, but based on your current lifestyle. Meaning if you continue to live the way you lived, not making changes, whether that is your home, your profession, your interest, where you spend your attention, and then how many years is in the future. Let's just say 90 just to be safe. And then what would people write or say about you? What is it that they would say?

But not just the niceties. Oh, they did all these nice things, but really getting down to the nitty-gritty of, "Oh, doctor Yoo at the age of 90, he was somewhat satisfied with his career and I guess his home relationships were okay, but they were not really quite exactly what he thought, he could have done better", et cetera. He accomplished a lot but he didn't really attend to some of his other interests or didn't go on his six-month sushi Hot Springs tour in Japan. It's basically explaining what life would be like if you continue to weigh on your current trajectory without being true to yourself.

And then the second version is, write your ideal, optimal, fulfill your purpose, fulfill your vision of pituitary eulogy. And so, Dr. Yoo was able to use all of his resources, his interest improved, his relationships, his inner health. He got to experience the things he wanted to do, help people the way he wanted. He didn't feel restricted by XYZ. Being general, but getting the flavor of it.

And then now you have these two separate stories. It's in front of you. You can't run away from it anymore. Then you compare them. This life that I could potentially live if I just keep living the way I'm doing without optimizing my soul and my life and my potential versus really exploring what's important to me, making that happen, and seeing that I would say for most or all people, there's going to be some discrepancy. And it's sitting with that discrepancy and saying, "Oh, there is something I'm not allowing myself to take advantage of in my life". Then it sets off this existential quandary in a good way to let you know what's possible in your life. So that's the intention of that exercise.

John: So then once you have that clarity about what those two different stories are and how different they are, then hopefully you can make a decision to change that to go from the current story to the better, the ideal story, I'm assuming.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yes. And also, since you have a physical or recorded version of it, you can always go back and put it on the wall somewhere and say, "Oh, wait, this is what I want things to look like. And this is what things look like before". It serves as a constant reminder about your potential. Again, it might change, but the point is that it brings you to a place of actually seeing what's going on and what could be and the difference.

John: Well, it sounds like it really kind of makes it so you can be a lot more intentional instead of just sort of let's see what happens if I don't change or if nothing changes. The only thing I might change in the story is that, in the first one you might live to be 70, and in the second one, you're going to live to be 90. Do you know what I mean?

Dr. Francis Yoo: Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. They say, "Oh, they didn't get enough sleep and they didn't eat it that well". But the second story maybe, "Oh, they got plenty of eight hours of sleep at night. Refreshed every morning, got plenty of greens in, but still enjoyed the foods they wanted". Yeah, you get the idea.

John: So, it's going to be a positive thing. All right. Well, I want to know a little more, because I was looking at your website and just the specifics because it looks like you have different versions of your coaching, depending on, let's say the time commitment or the intensity, that kind of thing. Could you just explain it in case there are listeners who are interested?

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah. So, I have an introductory course called "Awaken your potential", which is similar to the URL for that, but it's going to be called "Awake your potential". And that gives you an idea of what I talk about and what exactly is the focus. But the name of my signature program is "Physician Search for Meaning". That's the name of the program and that's where you get into the nitty-gritty of the ideas and apply them for yourself.

So, for me, I've taken plenty of courses. I'm sure I've started courses I haven't finished or bought courses I haven't started either. It's just the name of my game, I suppose. But I found that you can do a course, learn it, but not understand it or not apply it. So, really a centerpiece of my Physician Search for Meaning course is about that true integration and application.

So, there are built in-person activities, because I found that when I did courses that have homework per se, I mean, yeah, I kind of do the homework, but then when you're going over it with a person, a coach or whoever may be, then you bringing it to life and actually doing it. And I'm really invested in the interpersonal getting a result versus here's a lot of knowledge. Because that was my journey to add a lot of knowledge, but sometimes I'm not able to actually apply it. And also, I have a more intensive where it's really more one-on-one where we will really be exploring much deeper, but that's kind of like the premium program. But really the Physician Search for Meaning is the cornerstone of what I'm doing.

John: Okay, great. So, I'll put links to that and of course, to your website. And I also want to try and track down that Kevin MD article, maybe I'll need your help on that, but we'll put that in the show notes as well.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah, yeah, definitely.

John: Well, we're getting down to the end of our time here. So, let's see. What else was I going to ask you about? I want to just give you an opportunity. You know what my audience is like, I mean, most of my audience are physicians, obviously. Some of whom have made a change, some who are thinking about a change. Many of them are either burned out or unhappy, dissatisfied, one or the other. So, what last words of advice you might have for the listeners today?

Dr. Francis Yoo: Yeah, I definitely listened to your episodes and have visited your webinars and discussions in the Facebook group. So, there's a lot of external longing, meaning there's this, "I want to do something, but I don't know what it is" or "There's this result I want to get to or this goal", which is I think very, very important. But what I would emphasize is perhaps ask yourself, "What is the inner result I'm looking for?" Instead of saying $4 million in the bank, I can pull out 4% per year or whatever, which it's an external goal. But perhaps saying, "Oh, I want to wake up every day being fulfilled and having the equanimity to be able to withstand hardships".

Doing this inner sort of goal, emotional cognitive habitual results. So, it's about this inner work and really honing our habits, our thoughts, our emotions, our beliefs, and the inner work is what we call it. And again, listening to your soul and letting your soul breathe, breathe in and out, and not analyzing, but really listening to the inner gut, the heart, and the head, as opposed to, "How can I escape? How can I get away from here? What is this result I can get to?" The outer results are great, but it needs to be paired with this inner worker, inner goal or inner journey. So, don't neglect this inner part of you, this inner life, this inner world of you.

John: No, that is really good advice. And we see it in those people who are hurting, let's say, or they don't have the meaning. They're burned out. And sometimes it's like, they just want to get one step less in pain than they are now, which isn't necessarily the long-term goal. They can't think far enough ahead to say "What do I really want my life to look like? What do I want to be feeling and how satisfied do I want to be? And what might that look like?" So, I think it's good to stop and self-reflect and try and identify those and maybe get help if you can't by yourself.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Definitely sometimes it is necessary to make that decision right then to change something. And definitely not living that by any means. But definitely, there's the "You can't do that for the rest of your life". That's a point.

John: Yeah, the best is going to be just a temporary situation, hopefully just long enough to then take the next step to something else. But it's human nature. A lot of times we're just in denial until things get so bad, we just can no longer deny it. And so, we end up feeling like we're in a big rush. Whereas if we had just slowed down a little bit and started thinking about whether they're satisfied or whether life has meaning with what they're doing along the way, it might be a little smoother of a trip.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Exactly. Exactly.

John: All right. Well, I appreciate that. That is very helpful. Very interesting. And I think we'll have to end it there. So, with that, I guess I'll just say goodbye Francis, and thanks again for being here.

Dr. Francis Yoo: Thank you for having me.

John: It's been my pleasure. Bye-bye.


Many of the links that I refer you to are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you.

The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life, or business.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. I do not provide medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counselor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career.