West River Health Services has a new general surgeon on staff.
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
Exposed to the medical field as a young child, Matthew Hefty discovered a love for medicine and science and turned that passion into a profession.
“I developed an interest in medicine very early on,” Hefty said.
Recently hired on as West River Health Services new general surgeon, Hefty grew up with a father who has spent more than 40 years working with babies in the NICU in Bismarck. And as a child Hefty dealt with a chronic illness that forced him and his family to travel for treatment. He said that experience enhanced his respect for medicine.
“From those experiences I developed more of an interest and respect for science at that point,” he said.
Hefty was born and raised in Bismarck. He went on to graduate from Concordia College in Minnesota with degrees in Biology and Chemistry before attending medical school at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine. He spent his residency in general surgery at Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners.
Though his medical education started in college, he had already gained a great deal of medical experience.
At the young age of 13, Hefty started working at a local healthcare facility transporting patients to radiology. Then, when he became 17, he became a surgical nurses assistant for a hospital in Bismarck, a position he would keep until his first year of medical school. From this job, and the guidance of some mentors, he developed an interest in surgical studies of medicine.
But his experience also helped him to get to know the process of healthcare.
“It helped me develop an understanding for healthcare as a team approach,” he said.
It also helped him gain a better bedside manner when it came to patient care, Hefty added.
When talking to the Record, Hefty said he would encourage anyone who is interested in the medical field to get into a healthcare facility and start learning, even if it is on a volunteer basis.
“Get into the hospital, volunteering or participating in some kind of co-op that allows patient interaction,” he said.
His time in the hospital gave him a slight edge when it came to medical school and his practical studies.
“I had a better understanding for it when compared to some of my other colleagues because I had been exposed to it early on in the hospital,” Hefty said. “So I think that was a tremendous benefit.”
Having been born and raised in North Dakota, Hefty said he appreciates the area and the patients he can serve here.
“I’ve always had a strong devotion to my state, I really enjoy taking care of the patients from North Dakota,” Hefty said.
He also believes that surgery in the rural areas is lacking, and he believes that is due to surgeons completing fellowships in other specialties that force them to move to larger, metro areas.
But having a strong understanding and tremendous training in laparoscopic surgery, he hopes to use his skills to treat patients here, at home, instead of forcing travel upon them and their families.
“What I hope to bring here, is a breathe of skills that I’ve acquired, and that includes a broad spectrum of general surgery,” Hefty said. “Just kind of a broad spectrum of skills that may be available to patients so they don’t have to travel to larger, tertiary care centers.”