Dr. Mark McCarthy, ’10, Details His Journey from the Duluth Campus to Orthopedic Surgery

Although the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus has a history and legacy of graduating family medicine physicians, including those with a focus on Indigenous health and medicine, approximately 48% of these graduates pursue a different medical calling. In fact, nearly 6% of alumni, who began their academic careers at the Duluth campus, specialize in surgery. 

The surgery subspecialties range from cardiac to orthopedic, with the latter being the career for Mark McCarthy, ’10 MD. Since 2016, he has practiced as a sports medicine specialist in western Wisconsin. His main interest is in knee and shoulder surgery. 

“I typically spend 50% of my time in clinic and 50% of my time in the operating room as an orthopaedic surgeon,” Dr. McCarthy said. “I interact with a wide variety of people every day. I am blessed to care for them and help them — that is the most significant contributing factor that interested me in this career. Helping others. It’s that simple to me.”

Throughout his experiences, Dr. McCarthy recognizes the uniqueness of his journey. While he began his medical degree on the Duluth campus and finished it in the Twin Cities, his residency landed him at the University of Iowa where he focused and honed his skills in the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. He earned a Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago with numerous other experiences that brought him into different hospital systems. 

“I think my journey through different healthcare jobs and careers makes me unique. I have the advantage of introspection into the importance of the healthcare team and each member’s contributions. I also understand that caring for patients is of utmost value,” he said.

During his pre-med days, Dr. McCarthy recalls that while he wanted to help people because of how his parents raised him, he was not interested in following in his father’s footsteps. 

“My dad is a retired judge,” he said. “I didn’t want to go into law, but helping others has always been a calling of mine. I began my healthcare career as a nursing assistant in a nursing home and personal care attendant for a boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy while in college. I then went to PA school and worked as a PA-C for nearly four years before deciding to pursue medical school and a career as a physician.”

When looking back at his first two medical school years in Duluth, he fondly recalls them as incredible memories for life. 

“I developed great friendships with many classmates that we maintain today. The education was top-notch, and it helped prepare me for this profession well and afforded me the luxury of taking my career any direction I wished. I feel humbled and blessed to be an alumnus of the Medical School, Duluth Campus,” he said. “I specifically remember Dr. Repesh, may she rest in peace, Dr. Christianson and Dr. Ward. I enjoyed stopping by their offices and simply chatting about medicine and work-life balance. They were each incredible mentors to me.”

As a coach for youth sports, he brings his knowledge of sports and sports medicine to the community in which he lives and works. 

“I take a lot of pride in advocating for youth athletic and extracurricular involvement and spend much of my free time coaching and giving talks on healthy approaches to sporting endeavors,” he said. 

And, as the world continues to feel the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. McCarthy recognizes the efforts made to keep patients and staff safe. 

“We certainly take many more safety precautions in a field where we already took so many precautions. It’s all about the health and safety of the patient, and the members of the healthcare team, so myself and my team take all these in stride in the name of top patient care.”

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