Medical student Amy Yu wins AMA Physicians of Tomorrow Award

Amy Yu
Fourth-year medical student Amy Yu, AMA Foundation Physicians of Tomorrow Award recipient from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 4, 2013) — Amy Yu, a fourth-year student in the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, has been named a recipient of the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation’s Physicians of Tomorrow Award. Francisco González-Scarano, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the Health Science Center, announced the honor today.

“Amy Yu is the first student in our history to receive this coveted AMA award and is one of only 20 students selected this year from the 141 accredited U.S. medical schools,” Dr. González said. “I saw her frequently during her time in the Dean’s Office, and know that she is very intelligent and dedicated. We are particularly proud of her commitment to become involved in improving how care is delivered.”

The AMA established the Physicians of Tomorrow 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.

“Since her entrance into our school as a first-year student, Amy has been working with us on ways to emphasize health care delivery, economics and policy in the medical student curriculum,” said Yu’s 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. The school now offers three course electives that address the subject.

The School of Medicine launched an administrative internship that students can undertake during the summer, rotating through various areas of UT Medicine San Antonio operations. UT Medicine is the School of Medicine’s clinical practice. Yu was the first to complete the internship, and her ideas are benefiting the practice, Dr. Leykum said.

Yu also led 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. The interviewees included local hospital system chief executive officers and chief operating officers, officials with the Texas Medicaid Program, and many others.

“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,” Dr. Leykum said. “We need more physicians who have that kind of mind-set.”

Amy Yu, 27, is from the Dallas suburb of Irving. Her undergraduate degree, from Stanford University, is a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree with concentrations in religious studies, philosophy and biological sciences. After her graduation from Stanford, she worked for the Asian Liver Center, a non-profit organization focused on raising awareness of hepatitis B and the liver cancer it causes. This form of cancer is highly prevalent in the Asian and Asian-American populations, she said. The experience taught her that, as a physician, she could make not only an impact on individual lives but on the lives of many at the population level.

At the Health Science Center, she has again broadened her view of health care beyond the four walls of an exam room. “If I am going to be a good clinician, I need to have a solid understanding of the entire landscape to help patients achieve good health,” she said.

Informed physicians can traverse the divide between the clinical side of health care and the administrative side, Yu 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,” she said. “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.”


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 29,000 graduates. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

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