In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

March 27, 2018

The Residents Are Alright — Orthopedic Physicians See Music as Medicine

By In the Loop

For Elvis Francois, M.D., singing is as natural as breathing. He often sings for his patients, and sometimes posts videos online to reach a wider audience. One recent video has gone viral, earning Dr. Francois a new nickname – and a lot of new fans.


For Elvis Francois, M.D., singing is as natural as breathing. One recent video of him singing has gone viral, earning Dr. Francois a new nickname — and a lot of new fans.

When Elvis Francois, M.D., posted a video of himself singing Mike Yung's "Alright" to his social media accounts, he hoped it would "give people a bit of motivation and another reason to smile in the day," he tells us. It's safe to say he's accomplished that goal. With more than 2 million views and over 32,000 shares, the clip — which features fellow orthopedic resident William A. Robinson, M.D., on piano — seems to have struck a (ahem) chord with people. And it's earned Dr. Francois, a resident in orthopedic surgery at Mayo Clinic, a fitting nickname from some media outlets covering the story: the singing surgeon. "It's been surreal," Dr. Francois says of going viral. "People from Haiti have been calling my dad, asking, 'Hey, did you see your son?'"

Dr. Francois traces his love of music back to his father, and his interest in medicine back to Haiti. "My dad is tone deaf but he always had a passion for music, and that was contagious," the good doctor tells us. Medicine was a bug he caught visiting relatives in Haiti, including an uncle who was a physician. "Seeing the effect he had on so many people's lives made me want to do that, too," Dr. Francois tells us. Another trip to Haiti, this one after the devastating 2010 earthquake, inspired him to specialize in orthopedic surgery. "I saw broken people being put back together, and I knew that's what I wanted to do," he says.

Now, Dr. Francois is doing just that inside the operating room — and outside of it as well. He's come to see music as medicine and often sings for his patients. "Very few things in life can actually change the way you feel, and music is one of them," he says. "It has a medicinal quality and can soothe the soul." That's an especially powerful balm in the hospital. "People are in a confused setting, they're hearing strange medical words and maybe feeling scared," he says. "When you start singing, the mood changes. It relaxes people."

Dr. Francois says more patients have been asking him to sing for them since his latest video went viral. He's happy to oblige all requests. "I sing any chance I get, as long as I don't think it will bother someone," he tells us. Sinatra and Simone are among his go-to artists, but he'll also bust out a little Bieber or Sheeran. "It really depends on the demographic," he says. Sometimes he'll even get patients to sing along. "That's the most fun I have singing," he says. "Music connects people."

Dr. Francois tells us he hopes his videos will inspire others to look for small ways to make a big difference in people's lives. "You can do so much with very little effort," he says.

To hear Dr. Francois sing "Alright" and other favorites, you can visit his Facebook and Instagram accounts. Then, leave us a comment below before using the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.

UPDATE:  Drs. Francois and Robinson appeared on “The Ellen Show” on April 3, where they discussed their motivation for performing for patients and their reaction to their video going viral, and performed a cover of Mike Yung's "Alright." Watch the appearance below.



Tags: Dr. Elvis Francois, Dr. William A. Robinson, Orthopedic Surgery, Staff Stories

A message of gratitude for Dr. Elvis Francois and Dr. William A. Robinson:

Last December, my daughter's 15-year old teammate and friend had a dermoid cyst removed in an ER and she and her family thought that was the end of her story. This story will ultimately lead to you and why I am writing….to thank you.

We are from the Bay Area and while traveling to Las Vegas for a soccer tournament in March 2018, Taylor began to feel the pressure and not well again. During our games, she took a knee. Her mom had made her an appointment to be seen upon her return for a follow up visit. We shared a van and had hotel rooms next to her along with another family. As moms, we talked and really got to know one another. Ironically, one of our dearest friends at home who they didn’t know is a well-respected and well-known OBGYN in our area, and we said “you should meet her or talk to her” when you return.

Long story short, we were not the only ones who recommended this particular OBGYN, others in her office said you should also see this same doctor and she was being pointed to the same one by several people. She took it as a sign.

However, after further testing, she was immediately told that her daughter had to see a gynecological oncologist asap. (What they didn’t know then was that they were about to be told she had ovarian cancer.) Although she did not see our friend the OBGYN, she was able to recommend an amazing gynecological oncologist that turned out to be heaven-sent, and Taylor and her family came to believe that they were in the best hands possible.

The very next day they were in his office meeting with him. He too has a teenage daughter and he went above and beyond with his care. Despite the grim diagnosis of ovarian cancer at age 15, he reassured her he would take the very best care of her and the odds were in her favor that “everything would be alright.”

We could also reassure her of this as the other family in the van we shared in Vegas- their niece had the same diagnosis and 17 years prior, to the exact day of Taylor’s surgery, she too had the same cancer with her ovary removed. Today, she is doing amazing and has three beautiful children. Sharing that Vegas van connected many dots and allowed divine intervention to happen.

So her surgery was set for March 27th; however, on an early morning of Sunday March 25th, I caught your performance on Good Morning America. I immediately videoed you and sent it to her mom and said, “It’s an omen, I know it’s all going to be ok. You need to watch this.”

Let me tell you, when things were hard with chemo, etc., I have no doubt you had laryngitis! You were our reminder to hang in there! I would often resend your video.

So why today do I write? After her three rounds of chemo over about three months and being told she was cancer-free, Taylor was diagnosed with a rare off-shoot of masses in her abdomen that were caused by the chemo that affect a small percentage of those who have her type of ovarian cancer- unlucky her. She had to have each surgically removed. That was done about 1.5 weeks ago and although they went in knowing there were five, they found more while in there. They had to biopsy all to insure they were all benign. The news came today that she was clear and none were malignant. Finally, they feel like they can move forward!

EVERYTHING IS GONNA BE ALRIGHT. You were right all along and you helped us and her family keep the faith. Your timing and my seeing you right before her surgery could not have been more perfect. I wanted to write to say THANK YOU. You have no idea what your song meant to three moms who played you over and over helping us stay positive. I’m not on Facebook, but I figured out a way to make you an icon on my iPhone to have your song handy. So know your simple song touched many lives out here in California, and it is not done…

Two weeks ago, a friend of Taylor’s from school who helped shave Taylor’s head was diagnosed with Lymphoma. She is a senior and now has six months of chemo ahead of her. The first thing Taylor’s mom did was share your video to help her mom now keep her faith.

I sincerely hope that you will see our message of gratitude. We will always be grateful and continue to share it with others in times of need.

Again, many, many thanks….and God bless!
Michelle (Jenny & Kim)

Please sign in or register to post a reply.
Contact Us · Privacy Policy