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Ortho surgeon on National Physicians Week: They work tirelessly

Dr. Daniel Sutton works at team physician at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. (Provided Photo Via Video)

(WISH) — National Physicians Week in March highlights the contributions of doctors across the country regardless of the challenges they face.

In past years, the observance has addressed important issues within the medical community. For example, in 2017, it spotlighted the shortage of physicians in the United States, with an emphasis on the importance of diversity in medicine.

Dr. Daniel Sutton, a South Dakota-based orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, says he has a dedication to patient care, both domestically and abroad. He works as team physician at Northern State University in Aberdeen.

Sutton in January 2023 joined a mission trip, organized by Hope Ministries, to Tanzania in east Africa. The Christian nonprofit is tasked with caring for orphans and providing essential medical services and supplies to Tanzanian communities. The program over the past 30 years established the country’s first total joint replacement program and launched an orthopedic residency program. The efforts were aimed at equipping local doctors with skills and knowledge to better serve their communities.

Sutton said, “I was appreciative of the people and their willingness to allow us to treat them despite cultural barriers.”

(Provided Photo/Dr. Daniel Sutton)

He also found fulfillment in teaching medical residents during his stay abroad.

Sutton says he and his team treated hundreds of patients and performed 20 surgeries. Despite facing limitations on using medical instruments, he and his team improvised sterile techniques to ensure optimal outcomes. Reflecting on the challenges, Sutton said, “There were obstacles, but we learned to work through them and provide the best care possible for those in need.”

Sutton’s journey in medicine began at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by residency at Howard College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. His pursuit of specialized training in sports medicine led him to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he honed his skills caring for collegiate and professional sports teams.

When it come to the challenges posed by physician shortages, particularly in minority, underserved populations, he advocates for initiatives aimed at increasing diversity in the medical field and the importance of early exposure to health care careers. “There’s a physician shortage on top, and minority, underserved populations are most affected. It is something we have been dealing with for decades and it’s something that our governing boards and medical associations continue to recognize.”

He added, “I think the solution starts with getting more people into medical school and that starts in elementary school by exposing students to medicine at an early age, then preparing them with the tools they need in a life of continual learning. The hope is they go back to their population and make an impact.”

As National Physicians Week continues through Sunday, Sutton also urges recognition of his colleagues. “It’s a moment to acknowledge the efforts of my colleagues and other doctors who work tirelessly for their patients.”

The National Medical Association’s Region IV will host its annual conference, Black Voices Unmuted, from May 17-19 in Indianapolis. The conference will address health care disparities and focus on achieving equity, particularly in maternal and fetal health outcomes among minority populations.