Dr. Jay “Chip” Yates, an anchor of the Tanner Clinic medical staff, has worked as a family medicine physician at the clinic for more than 35 years, longer than any other family doctor.
The board-certified physician joined Tanner Clinic in 1978, the same year internist Dr. Bruce Burtenshaw arrived.
Over the years, Dr. Yates has refined his practice with treatment of everything from pediatric needs to mental health to the hypertension and diabetes of the baby boomers.
A native of Brigham City, Utah, Dr. Yates earned his B.S. in molecular and genetic biology at the University of Utah where he graduated with high honors. He received his M.D. at the U of U School of Medicine.
Dr. Yates completed his residency in family medicine at John Providence Hospital, Southfield, Mich.
Over the years, Dr. Yates has served in many capacities, including as president of the medical staff at Davis Hospital and Medical Center and president of the Davis Medical Society. He’s currently president of Tanner Clinic Corp., a physician-owned entity. Over a period of years, he’s also provided humanitarian health care to rural Romania.
Dr. Yates is married and the father of five grown children and grandfather of nine. He enjoys golfing and church ministry. Four of his children are now medical professionals, including Dr. York Yates, a plastic surgeon at Tanner Clinic.
“Istarted going to Dr Yates before my wife and I were married. I noticed that he actually asked questions and kept asking to find the root cause. Then he could focus on testing on a specific ailment. There were times when I thought there was something else wrong other than what he tested for. But he nailed it every time. He has a great personality and is genuinely concerned about his patients.” — Robert on Facebook, Dec. 30, 2014
“We started going to Dr. Yates in 1978 when our children were just beginning school. He always explained to the children exactly what he was going to do and why. As our children grew they refused to go to any other doctor for their sports/school physicals. He is very accurate in his diagnosis and doesn’t order tests that are not needed. Dr. Yates never rushes and he always listens. We have total faith in him.” — Karen on Facebook, Dec. 29, 2014
Over the years, Dr. Jay Yates has seen great changes in the number of patients who visit him with depression and anxiety, as well as the medications that treat emotional disorders.
The family medicine physician began treating depression in the pre-Prozac days when treatments were ineffective and often harmful. Today’s antidepressants, he adds, are much more evolved.
But one thing hasn’t changed over the decades — the challenges of prescribing the right medication for the patient. “That’s the trick of psychiatry,” said Dr. Yates. “We don’t have a test or blood test or x-ray.”
As a family medicine doctor for more than 35 years, Dr. Yates treats the roster of medical conditions that do have tests — hypertension, degenerative joint disease, strokes, high cholesterol, heart issues.
His job, he says, is to “try to get patients back to normal and restore their function.” (Mostly, he adds, “I like to try to prevent things.”)
Becoming more and more common, though, is that non-preventable illness — depression.
‘Unfortunately,” he says, “I do treat a lot of depression.” Fortunately, “If it’s classic depression, I think 100 percent is treatable,” he said.
“People will come in really flat-faced and withdrawn, not enjoying life,” he said. “We start treatment, make recommendations of things they can do in their lives, and when they come back in they’re much happier.”
Antidepressant use most often temporary
Most of Dr. Yates’ patients who use antidepressants are prescribed the medications for a temporary time frame. Depression and its symptoms are often situational, like postpartum depression. “Postpartum depression is as bad as you can get,” he said. “But most women don’t recognize it; they just think they’re having the baby blues. People don’t recognize it until they go off the deep end.”
Teenagers often follow the same course, he said. “They don’t recognize where they are until all of a sudden they need help.”
Prescribing antidepressants often requires a period of trial and error, said Dr. Yates. Because there is no yardstick, it may take measuring the effectiveness of several medications until the most effective one is found.
Medications have advanced
Just remember how far treatments for depression have advanced. “There are very few medicines I use now that I used even 10 years ago,” he said. Before the introduction of Prozac in 1987, treatment of depression was markedly different and more difficult, he said. The only semi-helpful drugs available were lithium and the tricyclic antidepressants developed in the 1950s.
“When I came out of my training, that’s all we had,” he said. “Tricyclic drugs helped, but you had to give patients high doses, which caused lots of side effects.”
Prozac was the first of a new class of antidepressants called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). “I remember the day Prozac came out,” he said. “We were so excited.”
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