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WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — When Dr. Theresa Hegge heard there was an opening for a plastic surgeon at Mercy Medical Center this summer, she was thrilled.
She grew up in Williston, and after leaving to attend school, she never thought she would be coming back.
But returning to Williston was an opportunity "to be able to come back to the place that raised us and the people that raised us."
The rural lifestyle Williston offers, and her family connections here were big factors in why Hegge was excited to come back to the area. She said she liked the small community, and wanted the ability to be outdoors and be in a safe place for her child to play.
"I like knowing who I am working with, and knowing their families," Hegge said.
She moved back in May shortly after her son, Esten, was born, and after completing her residency in Illinois. She joined her husband, Ryan Hegge, who had already been in Williston for a year working as a radiologist for Mercy, the Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/1nGT0r6 ) reported.
"We made some sacrifices that year, and being alone while pregnant was not fun, but we knew it was a commitment for the future," Hegge said.
She wanted her son to be near family and to grow up with his cousins. Her sister and her husband and children, as well as Ryan's family, all live in Williston.
"It's nice to come home and have family to help," Hegge said.
At first, she was attracted to the field of plastic surgery through international programs, but it was the variety of work and the creativity possible with plastic surgery that made her want to work in the field.
"I like not knowing what's going to walk through the door_every day I see a mix of things," Hegge said.
She graduated from the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota, and completed her residency training at the Southern Illinois University Plastic Surgery Institute.
Mercy wanted to fill a void of plastic surgery in Williston. Hegge is the first plastic surgeon to be located in Williston, where growth in the agriculture and energy sectors has created a need for the service.
Previously, patients would need to travel out of town to receive the services that are now available.
While working in Williston she's had the ability to work with many different types of patients and "a little bit of everything," ranging from fillers, teeth and skincare, to hand injuries, wounds, breast cancer, and facial fractures.
Williston is unique because of the high number of workplace-related injuries.
Hegge said traumatic hand injuries in particular are common, such as fingertip crush injuries, finger and hand fractures and tendon injuries that occur when working with heavy machinery such as oil or farm equipment.
When Hegge trained in Springfield, Illinois, she was able to receive a lot of experience with hand injuries.
She said Williston offered the ideal opportunity.
This is Hegge's first year of practice as a plastic surgeon, with six years of experience in the plastic surgery field.
"It feels good to bring something so needed back to our hometown," Hegge said.
Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com
This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Williston Herald