Dean Jenny Yu Discusses Career Challenges, Achievements, and SCU’s Unique Culture
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we interviewed Jenny Yu, Dean, College of Eastern Medicine. As a teacher, daughter, mother, wife, employee, supervisor, and upstanding citizen—Dean Yu personifies what it means to be a phenomenal woman. In this interview she discusses the challenges she faced pursuing a career in Eastern medicine, her greatest achievements, and offers advice to young women moving along their career paths.
How do you define women’s empowerment?
In my opinion, empowerment should be gender neutral in the perfect world. A task should not be defined or judged based on being men or women and instead, each person should perform their roles to the best they can, regardless of gender. However, many cultural and historical development may have a different perspective. For example, it wasn’t until the recent centuries that women may participate in social activities such as to vote, and not just being bound to domestic responsibilities. It is imperative for women to partake in these social activities, as according to the Eastern medicine philosophy, everything in this universe requires balance and harmony. This same concept applies to empowerment, where women’s viewpoints and participation in decision-making are integral to forming a sound society. Without women’s participation, the society or decisions made would then be considered as imbalance or disharmony according to the law of nature.
What is an average day like for you at SCU?
Busy, busy, and busy. Happily though.
Tell us what led you to your career path?
The first toy I could remember as a child was a stethoscope. I have always been intrigued by medicine and science and I thought I would become a surgeon. While in college, I discovered my passion about Eastern medicine, its philosophy, and its relation to the law of nature. I was in private practice for seven years before involving in teaching. It all started when I was invited to substitute for a class and a clinic shift at SCU. I then discovered that I really love to teach and I went from substituting to becoming the actual lead instructor/clinician. But it took me over three years to have made the decision to really become a full-time faculty, as it was the hardest decision to give up my private practice. This decision became clear to me when my father advised me of the ripple effect by teaching and how I could help more students to later on help more patients. I enjoyed teaching the class that not many people liked to teach: theories. Honestly, I have never imagined to becoming a teacher. Teaching to me was like a television that found its antenna station and suddenly the image became clear! I am grateful to have found this passion of mine. I am very fortunate to be one of those people who enjoy going to work everyday.
What challenges have you faced as you pursued your career? How did you handle them?
The biggest challenge I have faced pursuing my career in Eastern medicine was about the mysterious perception that people had toward this profession. Having worked in an integrative setting since the 1990’s, many people back then did not understand much about Eastern medicine. But instead of viewing this as a challenge, I actually took it as an opportunity to communicate and educate the doctors and patients with whom I worked, and I played the role of “ice-breaker” to initiate dialogues in introducing my profession. I find that once people understand more about Eastern medicine, the barrier then dissipates. After all, regardless of which healthcare profession, our unanimous goal is to provide the best care to the patients. Therefore, having bias or ego would not solve any problem, so I preached and I am happy to see the results.
What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date is to have lived everyday to my fullest extent and played every role (teacher, clinician, daughter, mother, wife, employee, supervisor, citizen, etc.) to my maximum. I go to bed each night in peace, knowing that I have no regrets because I do my best in every opportunity. Of course, I also feel extremely happy when patients tell me how their lives were changed from my help to them, for example, when a couple became biological parents when they thought their only option was to adopt, etc. It actually makes me feel even more achieved when my students tell me how they have helped their patients in the same way. This sensation is the ripple effect that I mentioned in question #3. This pacifies and assures me that I have made the right decision to give up private practice and be devoted to teaching.
What advice do you have for young women as they move along their career paths?
I would advise the young generation to never give up on their dreams and to not be defeated by frustration. For young women who encounters obstacles along their career paths, take it as the opportunity to prove wrong those who doubt them. Distance proves a horse’s strength, and time proves a person’s character. Success comes with hard working, good planning, and strong emotional intelligence. Frustration would only be in the way to achieving success.
Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share with us?
“Age is simply a reference number.”
What does integrative mean to you?
Integrative to me means harmony. Music sounds best as a symphony and the same concept applies to all aspects of life. In healthcare, being integrative is the best offer from a practitioner to a patient, knowing when and how to apply the expertise while also complementing the shortfall with other practitioners’ expertise when needed.
What makes SCU unique?
SCU is unique in many ways, especially in the “walking the walk” of our vision and mission. SCU pioneers healthcare and education in a way to truly reflect “what is the best for our students and our patients.” It takes initiative, strength, energy, and bitter and sweet to accomplish today’s students learning with, from, and about each other. Being the pioneer is not an easy task as it is so much easier to remain in the comfort zone and not making changes. But SCU took on the approach to doing the right thing rather than doing the easy thing. These are the results of the wise leadership and vision of our President and the commitment and extreme hardworking of every employee, student and patient. How much more unique could any institution be?
What makes SCU’s culture unique?
SCU is, if not the only, one of the few institutions of our kind to have invested in a campus culture. Being an evidence-based institution, data shows that culture is crucial to an organization. The development process itself was already an amazing massive work of art and collaboration. Representatives across the campus dedicated time and effort into our culture development. The question #9 is tied into this question, as only an unique institution would be able to have an unique culture. While culture is defined differently among organizations, our SCU culture is just perfect for us! We work hard and yet we remember to bring humor into our day-to-day work. When life gives us lemon, we manage to turn it into lemonade and lemon pie!
In celebration of Women’s History Month 2018, we are honoring some of the phenomenal women faculty members at SCU.