Medicine is both an art and a science. Those working in medicine must balance not only high-tech medical advances but the best in the field also couple science with empathetic care. Dr. Huan Yan does just that as a general surgeon with Providence Centralia Hospital. His easy-going nature and friendly personality are evident right away when meeting him for the first time — even virtually.
“I really like taking care of people,” he says. “I’ve also always liked the sciences. Overall, medicine is a rewarding experience. It requires empathy, but at the same time, you must think scientifically because that is how we approach patient care. It’s rewarding both on a cognitive level in terms of figuring out what is causing somebody’s problem as well as on an emotional level in terms of helping them.”
Since September of 2018, Dr. Yan has shared his wisdom and compassion essential to outstanding medical care with Lewis County patients as part of Providence’s general surgery team – working with Dr. Atul Thakker and Dr. Kathryne Lucus and physician assistant Abigail Reed. Dr. Yan performs various surgeries, including conditions of the thyroid, parathyroid, hernias, gallbladder, and colon.
“I enjoy working with Providence,” says Dr. Yan. “One of the big things for me is they serve the community. The other nice thing about working for Providence is because it’s part of a larger hospital system. If we have any patients with more complex issues, it’s easier to transfer them to another hospital in the system like St. Peters in Olympia or even Swedish when needed.”
Working in the rural community is familiar to Dr. Yan. “I grew up in rural Arkansas with a population of around 9,000,” he says. “If you grew up there, you know everybody. A lot of times, if you call the wrong number, you still get someone you know. That’s happened to me a couple of times. It’s similar here.”
Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in science, becoming a surgeon in Lewis County started while he was in college in Atlanta. “I was unsure what I was going to do,” he said. “Emory has a really strong medicine program, so I knew in my undergraduate years I was probably going to do something related to medicine.”
After graduating from Emory University School of Medicine in 2011, Dr. Yan completed his general surgery training at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and finished a fellowship in endocrine surgery at the University of Chicago, specializing in thyroid and parathyroid surgery.
It was that time in Los Angeles and Chicago that solidified his desire to live and work in a more rural area on the west coast. “I prefer living in a smaller area because it’s stressful living in large cities, especially if you grew up in a small town,” says Dr. Yan. “I quite enjoy it here — people are down to earth, which really helps.”
Chehalis resident Greg Lund experienced that “hometown feel” from caregivers like Dr. Yan — and the benefits of Providence Centralia being connected to a larger health system — when he needed services at Providence Centralia Hospital earlier this year. Lund wrote in a letter to the editor:
“I was enveloped into a caring and professional medical journey. Professional nursing and compassionate care took control. Dr. Yan, a skillful local surgeon, inserted a chest tube to relieve the pain but said he wanted a specialist to take over, and off to Swedish in Seattle I went. Swedish gave me great care, and I arrived home Friday during the snowstorm to my warm, loving Chehalis home and community. I am hometown grateful and blessed.”
When he is not in the operating room, Dr. Yan enjoys hiking while enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, spending time with his family, and cooking.
Being a surgeon is a natural fit for Dr. Yan as he likes to work with his hands and is a self-proclaimed control freak. “As surgeons, we like to control things a lot, and that is my personality as well,” he says. The finer movements and tools like what he uses when cooking led him to general surgery.
Before medicine, he worked as a waiter in a restaurant as one of his first jobs, an experience that set the foundation for how Dr. Yan treats his patients with a friendly bedside manner.
“When you get right down to it, the medical field is basically a service industry,” says Dr. Yan. “We provide a service to the community, and people should be treated with respect. Generally, when people see a doctor, it’s usually when something is happening to them and not something good. It’s important to make sure they feel that they are taken care of. It reflects something happening in the medical field and schools. It used to be that medicine was about treating diseases. Now, we’ve come away from that. There’s an effort in medical schools to teach students you are treating people. Ultimately, your goal is to make people feel better in any way you can, emotionally and physically. I personally think when people leave, they should feel happy whether it’s in a restaurant or doctor’s office.”
Providence Medical Group Centralia General Surgery
1720 Cooks Hill Rd. – Providence Medical Plaza