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.