Yue Liu is the Assistant Vice President of Program Management, Asian Services and CARE Services at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She has spent her entire career at the hospital, climbing her way to the top from her beginnings as an Executive Assistant to the Chief of Gastroenterology. The rise has been steady, and she’s amassed immense institutional knowledge along the way, priming her to identify and enable necessary advancements toward building a more inclusive culture of care.
Born and raised in Xi’an, China, Yue comes from generations of medical field professionals, so her own pursuit of the industry was not an unexpected one. Yue’s father held an MD/PhD in Hematology; her mother was a nurse. When Yue was nine, her father ventured to the United States to accept a research position at New York University. After two years of lab work, he decided to pursue practicing medicine and thus made his residency more permanent. Yue and her mother soon joined him, first landing in Brooklyn before settling in Great Neck, Long Island.
Yue’s father’s Chinese credentials were not valid in the US, so she observed as he started anew, taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination and completing medical residency programs. His dedication and persistence were motivating, lighting a spark in Yue. She explored her interest in medicine in high school by volunteering at her local hospital. Here, she shadowed everyone from administrators to physicians, and nurses, which exposed her to the vast ecosystem of opportunity under one roof.
University and Grad-School Years
During her first year at Stony Brook University, Yue declared a pre-med major, certain that she’d become a physician like her father. In her junior year, she worked part-time as a research assistant in the urology department to better position herself for medical school admissions. One day, the physician she worked under was absent, so the office administrator pulled Yue to support her in organizing documents and data. This exposure to the other side of the work drastically changed the trajectory of Yue’s career. She began to seriously consider alternative paths in the medical field outside of becoming a clinical professional.
Yue leaned further into this work and requested to split her time between researching for the urologist and supporting the office administrator. By the end of her junior year, she dropped her pre-med major, pivoting to dual majors in healthcare management and multidisciplinary sciences, including biology, chemistry, and psychology.
While Yue was confident in her choice, her parents urged her to try the research avenue again. So, to appease her parents, Yue spent her first year out of college working at Rockefeller University, conducting research in DNA sequencing. “This is not me. I can’t do it…there was a lot of pressure…He [her father] tried to tell me medicine is not just medicine, it could involve research. But for me, that wasn’t it. It was not clicking, and I didn’t feel like I was thriving.”
Yue returned to her instincts and pursued a Master of Public Administration at Baruch College, which enabled her to bridge her knowledge of medicine and business. While enrolled in school full-time, she landed the executive assistant position at Lenox Hill Hospital. This opportunity would begin a career spanning 18 years and counting at the hospital.
Holding down both the full-time responsibilities to school and work was a challenge for Yue, but one she learned to manage. “I did it right away when I was young. So it was okay…If I were to do that now, I wouldn’t be able to do it. It just is a lot. Now I have kids, increased responsibilities, and more things to consider. I think it’ll be much harder, which is why I give a lot of working moms a lot of kudos because I can only imagine how much more different things they have to sacrifice to complete their degrees.”
From her first role at Lenox until now, Yue has done it all. Leveraging her degree and establishing value to the hospital, she became the operational manager, oversaw the operations of Gastroenterology, Pulmonology, Internal Medicine practices, and infusion center, and built the sleep lab. Eventually, she landed in the Department of Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery. “Through the years of working, I think I acquired a lot of skill sets that can help me to understand what my teams are responsible for completing. So I’m more relatable to the team members for them to work with me to accomplish the similar goal that the system is rolling out.”
About five years ago, Yue joined Lenox’s Asian Business Employee Resource Group (BERG), an initiative designed to promote a more inclusive culture for employees and patients, explicitly focusing on Asian communities. A colleague encouraged her to join, recognizing the potential the opportunity held to support Yue’s vision of improving patient experiences within the hospital. “When trying to advocate…the one-offs, the two-offs for some of our Asian patients, it was tough. It was more based on personal favors, people who I know because I’ve been here for a long time…But then, when I joined the BERG, it was very different. I was able to really utilize and leverage that element and then bring certain things into a platform and have the leadership look at it differently. It’s not just I want, it’s not just my patient wants – the BERG now is asking for it.”
In her current title as Assistant Vice President of Program Management, Yue evaluates the hospital’s culture through three buckets: 1. Asian services, which focuses specifically on the needs of Asian patients and the barriers they face to receiving quality care. 2. Concierge care, which intends to make navigating the healthcare system easier for patients and providers of all backgrounds, and 3. the Touch Internal Referral, which seeks to enhance the existing provider relationships. “So everything I do, if you look at it, is all about access. Getting care. I mean, it’s about providing our patients the very best care.”
Yue hopes her next act is running a hospital from the very top. “I’ve been here for so long, I have done so many specialties, worked in many different roles, and that has prepared me.” For now, though, she remains focused on improving Lenox’s infrastructure, head to toe, to better care for the local Asian communities. “Healthcare is complicated…it’s making something complex into something so simple…it’s making sure the patient feels well taken care of, and the community providers feel at ease and satisfied being able to utilize the hospital system. You don’t have to think about anything more. Tell me what you need, and we’ll figure out the rest for you.”