Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Youth will be Served

Sho Yano, then 13, confers with DNA co-discoverer James Watson.

Nine years.

That’s how long it took Sho Yano to get his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago.

Thing is, he started when he was twelve. [Click here to see a ‘before’ story with photo.]

Now he’s twenty-one, and ready to start his residency in pediatric neurology. That usually takes four years. This story and the accompanying video and photographs show what a fine young man he has grown up to become.

Yano earned his PhD in molecular genetics and cell biology. Apparently, he’s pretty good at violin, too.

No word on now much time he spends in front of the tube or playing his Xbox.

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  1. Carolyn Thomas

    Gee, is it just me, or are others a wee bit squirmy at the idea of an adolescent doctor being let loose on unsuspecting patients? Yano was just 18 when he first began examining patients as a med student!

    I don’t care how much of a brainiac he is (and he quite clearly is that, amazingly!) but there are important social skills that come only with maturity and life experience – not from having perfect test scores. And as the linked article here points out, a number of med schools would not in fact accept young Yano into their programs for just this reason.

    As both a hospital employee since the year 2000 as well as being a heart attack survivor, I can tell you flat out that a high I.Q. does NOT necessarily a good physician make. In fact, some of the most shockingly poor interpersonal communication skills I’ve observed come from highly-regarded specialists with sterling academic credentials – and zero people skills. Med schools already attract the brainiest of the brainy as applicants, and then churn out graduates with IQ scores that are consistently higher than other professionals.*

    But is that what kind of doctor we are looking for? Some medical schools, in fact, have now broadened already-tough entrance criteria to include evidence of well-rounded social success in volunteering or other community involvement.

    This trend has evolved because of a number of studies revealing that “problems in doctor-patient communication are extremely common and adversely affect patient management” – such as those reported as the ‘Toronto consensus statement’ by Simpson et al in the BMJ, 1991.

    I don’t know young Dr. Yano at all, of course, so I’m certainly not implying that he lacks those emerging new med school criteria; he very well may be empathetic, an excellent listener, a brilliant communicator, and wise beyond his years – as well as being remarkably gifted mentally.

    But as a patient, I’d far prefer to be treated by physicians who have some semblance of life experience and well-developed people skills behind their M.D. degrees.

    * Hauser, Robert M. 2002. “Meritocracy, cognitive ability, and the sources of occupational success.” CDE Working Paper 98-07 (rev). Center for Demography and Ecology, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

  2. Pranab

    While some (like Carolyn above) will debate whether or not an adolescent dude can a doctor make, I will reserve my comments. These are stereotyping and broad generalizations. Emotional maturity comes from experience, which he did gain in the course of his 9 year stint. We need to shed the sham respect that a shock of grey hair commands.

    Disclaimer: While obviously not as young as Yano, I have faced a similar problem and I guess age should not be one of the measuring tapes a patient should use to evaluate his/her doctor… go Yano!!!

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