From Army to Avera, plastic surgeons find niche in Sioux Falls

Jan. 25, 2018

This piece is presented by Avera.

About two years ago, Barry Martin and Mark Shashikant were Army officers, serving in the medical corps and providing specialized medical service to soldiers and their family members.

Today, these board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons are with Avera Medical Group, having worked with patients for more than 18 months. Their practice continues to grow and evolve as part of the Sioux Falls market. This life transition and change in atmosphere from East Coast to Midwest, as well as from military life to civilian medicine, has come with some surprises – almost all pleasant ones, they said.

“Among the best is the mission. Avera’s mission makes a big difference for me, and while it’s a different mission than the one we had while in the U.S. Army, it’s striking,” Martin said. “I didn’t know what to expect in the transition, especially in terms of camaraderie, and that’s been among the best parts. There’s been no drop-off or gap in that connection between us and our physician peers and the members of our teams.”

Shashikant said Avera’s focus on patient care is another difference that he appreciates.

“Being such a large entity, the military ties many of its approaches to a variety of metrics. Now, we can just focus on holistic care of every person we see and not worry as much about those Department of Defense hoops that were a part of that life,” he said. “With Avera, our efforts are driven by the culture of our mission and our health system, not by measurements dictated from above.”

Both surgeons said that the reward of being in a community and of seeing patients who are “out and about” is another noticeable difference. When they practiced medicine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, many of the soldiers would receive care and then return to posts around the globe.

“Now, we will see people again as patients or out in the community, at the grocery store, things like that,” Martin said. “The community gets to know you as you are a part of it, and you get to develop that trust.”

Martin and Shashikant brought a new specialty to Avera, giving them the opportunity to build their practice from scratch. They have spearheaded efforts to add innovative technology, including Vectra 3-D imaging that can provide comprehensive views of the “after” images for patients long before they enter the operating room. The team both highlighted Avera’s leading-edge work as a health system with electronic medical records, which is a critical tool for specialist physicians.

“Communication is key in our work, and to have that seamless system that keeps us informed allows us to focus on the patient and not have to track down information. The minute it goes into our patient’s record, it’s on our screens,” Shashikant said. “That was another pleasant surprise, coming from the East Coast and being on the forefront of the industry. Things are just as good here in terms of talent, technology and access. In terms of access, it’s actually better here in the Midwest.”

As they continue into their second year of practice in Sioux Falls, Martin and Shashikant look forward to continuing to serve patients and colleagues at Avera, where they offer consultation and their skills to a wide-ranging set of conditions, from cancer to trauma.

“It’s rewarding to be a part of Avera’s overarching, holistic care delivered by a small army of specialists,” Martin said. “For patients, that level coordination is priceless.”

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From Army to Avera, plastic surgeons find niche in Sioux Falls

These former Army officers are building a plastic surgery practice at Avera — and encountering plenty of nice surprises about working in Sioux Falls along the way.

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