Link: University of Iowa

Information About

Alumni Interview


Bryan Den Hartog, M.D.


What is your hometown?

Sheldon, Iowa

What is your official title?

Orthopaedic Surgeon
Assistant Clinical Professor
Sanford School of Medicine
University of South Dakota

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

The first time I considered a career in medicine was my freshman year at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. My plans were to be a music major, but a college professor persuaded me that my skill set was more in line with a career in medicine. I started taking biology classes and found my passion was for the sciences.

What interested you to pursue a career in medicine and medical education?

I realize it sounds cliché, but I had a desire to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Physicians can do so much to change the lives of those who put their trust in us. Helping educate other providers helps equip the current, as well as the next generation, of orthopaedists. The most satisfying part of that process is that I learn from fellow educators and in turn I become better equipped to treat my patients.

Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc.

In 1989 I was honored with the AOA-Zimmer Resident Award. I served on the Board of Directors for the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) from 2006-2008, and was the AOFAS representative to the Board of Specialties from 2006-2010. In addition, I hold patents for a number of orthopaedic implants designed for foot and ankle surgeons.

Is there a teacher, mentor or UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member who has helped shape your education?

Dr. Ned Amendola in the Department of Orthopaedics has been an inspiration to me. His endless energy, spirit of service, and pursuit of excellence has set a standard for me to pursue.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education and medical training?

Growing up in Iowa, I was aware of the excellent reputation the UI Carver College of Medicine had. Two other men from Sheldon had attended the medical school and had been superbly trained. It was my first choice.

What kind of professional opportunities or advantages has your University of Iowa medical training provided?

Iowa is renowned for its excellence in medical education. This reputation became quite apparent during the residency interview process my senior year of medical school. Residency directors seemed to recognize and value those students with the educational foundation that I received at Iowa. The Iowa faculty was nationally recognized and their recommendations carried significant weight in the interview process. This, no doubt, was instrumental in helping me land a position at a competitive residency.

Please describe your professional interests.

My area of interest within orthopaedics centers on disorders of the foot and ankle. I have a busy private practice but also conduct clinical outcomes investigations and help educate orthopaedic surgeons through courses offered by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS). As mentioned above, I have served on the board of directors for the AOFAS, and also on the Outreach and Education Fund (OEF).

What are some of your outside interests?

I enjoy being with my wife and three sons - Jordan, Addison and Taylor. The Black Hills of South Dakota offer a number of outdoor activities throughout the year such as boating, skiing (both water and snow), hiking and sightseeing, all of which help provide a much needed break from the demands of work. My philanthropic interests include serving on the board of directors for Mission to Haiti which provides support to schools, child sponsorship, and medical care in that impoverished nation. I am also involved on the local boards of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and YoungLife.

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?

Look beyond yourself and see where your gifts can be used to serve others and to honor God.

If you could change one thing about the health care system in the United States, what would it be?

That government would fully fund their mandates for health care for all Americans.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in medicine since you were a student?

I have seen a trend of physician employment by hospitals. More physicians are adopting a “shift work” mentality which does not necessarily improve quality or continuity of care. Deferring decisions regarding health care systems and efficiencies to hospital employers, and a lack of ownership by physicians may take away the drive to provide the best service to our patients.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's medical students?

Maintain as much autonomy in your practice as possible so you are in a better position to be an advocate for your patients. Those in the business of health care administration may not have the same perspective on how health care should actually be delivered. You know better than anyone what treatments and delivery systems best serve your patients. Get involved in shaping health care policy and don’t assume that hospital administrators and politicians understand the challenges physicians face in caring for patients.

What do you see as "the future" of the medicine?

I see an increased problem with access to health care. A socialized bureaucratic health care system would not improve the quality of, nor be more efficient than what we already have. The more reliable way to assure access to care through cost control and improved quality would be to allow physicians to have greater ownership in the health care model and compete for best services for their patients.


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