If you are looking for answers, Michael Neste, MD, a 1993 graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School, will get them for you. As director of radiology and chief of staff at a rural hospital in western Colorado, Dr. Neste developed his skills through years of experience. “Having the answers is critical for patient care,” he said. “It’s important to have an expert who can read the scans and explain what’s happening and why.” 

Currently, his work as a radiologist examines MRIs, CAT scans, ultrasounds and a plethora of other imaging options that help determine how a patient’s treatment might proceed. “I enjoy my work because, years ago while on rotation, I noticed that everyone went to the radiologist to find out the source – the answers. I loved the idea of that field, and I discovered I loved doing it," he said.

Initially, Dr. Neste had intended to pursue family medicine in connection with the Medical School, Duluth Campus mission. He had grown up in Minnesota, earning his undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1989 at the University of Minnesota Duluth. It was a natural progression toward medical school as the first in his family to aspire for a degree in medicine. 

“It wasn’t a lifelong goal to go into medicine or even radiology,” he said. “Going into the medical field made sense for good job opportunities, but more than anything, I could see how I might give back to the community through my work, and that was really important to me.”

When Dr. Neste graduated with his medical degree, he completed four years of residency at the University of Michigan. He decided on an additional fellowship year in interventional radiology, allowing for more direct patient care. “Working with patients is an important part of the medical profession. I needed to return to it because at the root of my upbringing is a strong connection with people. Patient care is exactly that, and I needed it at the core of my career," he said.

After his fellowship concluded, he worked for 15 years as an interventionist radiologist where trauma and emergency care were a part of his daily routine. “It was all hours, every day, and burnout was a very real thing,” he said.

At the conclusion of his time as an interventionist radiologist, he decided to open a critical-access rural hospital, general radiology practice, and by doing so, he returned to the roots of the Duluth Campus mission. “My medical career went down a subspecialty path, but by being a part of a rural health care system, I’m committed to what Duluth taught me,” he said.

Although his professional career has embraced rural medicine, Dr. Neste has also continued to carry the banner of giving back. In 2010, he began an endowed scholarship for Duluth Campus medical school students. The lengthy path toward earning a medical degree and the rising costs to complete it were at the forefront of the inspiration that led to his decision. 

“I grew up with good parents, and they set the foundation for being a good human being who cares for others,” he said. “Creating a scholarship to help students achieve their goals while lessening the financial burden felt like the right thing to do.”

With over a decade of the Michael G. Neste Endowed Scholarship in place, the financial award has honored 14 students from the Duluth Campus. One such student recipient commented, “The cost of medical school and the debt that I will have at the end of my medical school career is something that is always in the back of my mind. I also don’t have the luxury of coming from a wealthy family that can just pay it off for me when I am finished. That being said, receiving any amount of scholarship money means the absolute world to me. It brings me great joy that there are people, foundations and organizations that are set up to help individuals pay for their continuing education. It is my goal that in my career someday, I will be able to set up a scholarship fund for other individuals in the medical field to lessen their worry of the financial burden that comes with one of the greatest professions.”

The appreciation from award recipients has reached Dr. Neste through cards and letters while he also receives annual updates that highlight how the endowment has flourished and perpetuated through the years. 

“I love getting the profiles and the thank you cards from students,” he said. “It is an honor to support the next generation of doctors. We have an obligation to acknowledge the privilege of going into medicine, and in return, it’s always a good thing to give back.”

Michael G. Neste, M.D., Endowed Scholarship

The purpose of the Fund is to provide one or more scholarships annually to new students with demonstrated financial need at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Primary preference to students who begin their medical education in Duluth. Secondary preference is given to students with an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth, or, if no University of Minnesota Duluth student qualifies, a student from another public college or public university in either Minnesota or Wisconsin.

If you would like to learn more about this scholarship and are considering a gift opportunity, please contact Elizabeth Simonson, director of development, at esimonso@umn.edu or 218-391-4772.