Someone You Should Know: Leading USD Sanford School of Medicine

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Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 6:11 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - From rural roots to leading the University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine, we think Dr. Tim Ridgway is Someone You Should Know.

Dr. Ridgway is playing a major role in training future physicians. Dr. Ridgway credits his past, to where he is now.

“I grew up on a small farm. Ravinia, South Dakota. And it was about as simple of life as you can imagine. But growing up in rural South Dakota, wonderful memories,”  said Tim.

It was where he decided to be a medical doctor.

“My interest in medicine literally came with the farm animals. Every time the veterinarian would come out. I was the first one there. I was fascinated by the work. In fact, I thought at one time, maybe I’d be a veterinarian. But I changed my mind when a cow kicked me one too many times,” said Tim.

Dr. Ridgway would go to Augustana, followed by medical school at USD, and then his residency at the Mayo Clinic.

“Then I wanted to come back. I wanted to come back to South Dakota and practice. Which I did for many years,”  said Tim.

For 31 years actually, as a gastroenterologist, until a new opportunity came up.

“So in 2006, I got a postcard. Remember those? I got a postcard. And it said you should consider applying for this new position at the medical school and it was the Dean of Faculty Affairs.  I had never been a part of a medical school short of just a faculty member where I would take students. And I got the position,” said Tim.

He could now focus on something he loved to do as a practicing physician, teaching.

“There’s something about seeing those students or residents that were under me. And when you could show them something where they were scared or they were nervous, and they got it. And they would just light up. I never forgot that feeling. So I thoroughly enjoyed taking care of patients. I really did, and I miss that. Everybody asks me do I miss that and yes I do. But I think I’m still doing my part for health care in South Dakota by training and bringing up this next generation of students, which I think is vital. It’s vital for our nation, very critical for South Dakota,” said Tim.

“He knows a lot of people in this state. He’s been a part of the South Dakota Medical State Association, the SDSMA. He knows everybody. He knows alumni, he knows students, he knows business people. I just think he’s the perfect person for the job just because of his connections,” said Director of Development for Health Affairs Kellyna Warnke.

Dr. Ridgway has overseen a lot of growth at the Sanford USD School of Medicine. And it’s the students that give him the most pride.

“I’m most proud of the fact that this school produces real world-class physicians. They get their degrees here and they match in outstanding programs throughout the entire country.  And I think too, it’s always instilling in them a greater good, the purpose. Yes, we have good jobs, we are paid well. But we’ve learned across the board you have to have something that’s bigger than yourself.  And I think in the medical profession, we get that. Because we have an opportunity to impact somebody’s quality of life and make it better,” said Tim.

Now 63, he gets asked about his future.

“My answer is, as long as I feel like I’m effective at doing what I’m doing. My goal is simply to continue the trajectory of this school. Of the School of Medicine, and the School of Health Sciences.  I oversee all of the health affairs at the University of South Dakota. My goal is to make certain that every kid gets an opportunity to come here, and then to succeed,”  said Tim.

A lot like this one-time South Dakota kid did.

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