Dr. Matthew Hayes ’99
Radiologist at Sanford Health Radiology Clinic in Sioux Falls, SD
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Chemistry & Biology
Thinking "Small" Led to Right College Decision and Big Career Success in Radiology for Dr. Matthew Hayes ’99
For radiologist Dr. Matthew Hayes ’99, a faith-based, small liberal arts education paved the way for an exciting, challenging career.
“Think small” isn’t the kind of advice one might expect to hear from Dr. Matthew Hayes ’99, a radiologist from the Sanford Health Musculoskeletal Radiology Program in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. An accomplished physician, Hayes completed his medical residency at the highly competitive Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, followed by an Advanced Radiology Training Fellowship, also at Mayo. He’s received numerous awards for his work, published in academic journals and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
But for the Sioux Falls native and O’Gorman High School graduate, it was the decision to “think small” in terms of a small liberal arts college that set the groundwork for big success.
“It was very important for me to attend a school that not only had outstanding academic and athletic programs but also had a strong faith-based community,” Hayes says. “I was fortunate to receive an essentially full-ride scholarship to the South Dakota state college of my choosing, but I chose MMC because it offered what the larger schools couldn’t: a college with professors who know all their students personally and sought to instill in their students the concepts of integrity, community, and faith above any other type of academic or personal success.”
Room to Explore
While a student at MMC, Hayes took advantage of the various athletic, academic and leadership opportunities the college had to offer. He played for the Lancer Men’s Basketball team and served as vice president of the MMC Faith Advisory Board.
A biology and chemistry major, he points to MMC professor James Bowers as someone who “challenged me to achieve more than I ever thought was possible.” He also had the chance to learn from professors outside of his major.
“Although I’m not Catholic, I was so moved by Sister Marielle Frigge’s passion for teaching about God, I took multiple religious studies courses,” Hayes says. “I’m indebted to Sister Marielle Frigge, who not only helped me edit my papers for her religious classes but also helped me edit numerous papers for all my science classes, as well as going above and beyond helping me prepare my medical school applications.”
One of those papers Sister Frigge helped edit went on to be published in The English Journal while Hayes was still a student at MMC. Years later, when the time came for him to apply for a medical residency, he included the paper as part of his application. The Radiology Residency Program chairman at Stanford University not only told Hayes that he was the best medical residency application he had seen in 20 years at Stanford — but he also asked for a copy of the paper.
“He said he had never had a medical residency applicant who was published in an English journal,” Hayes says.
Hard Work Pays Off
For as much as Hayes credits MMC with giving him a strong academic start, his personal drive for excellence is apparent from a quick glance at his resume. After graduating from MMC in 1999, he attended the University of South Dakota School of Medicine and graduated at the top of his class. From there, he earned one of 12 coveted radiology residency positions at Mayo Clinic, from a field of 650 applicants. That residency led to the Advanced Radiology Training Fellowship in 2009 at Mayo Clinic, where he specialized in musculoskeletal radiology.
That fellowship, as it turns out, shaped his life in unexpected ways.
“My greatest achievement was meeting my wife while at Mayo Clinic,” says Hayes, whose wife, Dr. Meredith Hayes, completed the Advanced Radiology Training Fellowship in 2012. “I was her ‘teacher’ while she was in her first year as a radiology resident. We dated for five months before becoming engaged and were married within the year on July 11, 2009.”
The personal partnership has led to a professional one as well.
“My wife and I were recruited to return to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 2012 to start the Sanford Health Musculoskeletal Radiology Program,” Hayes says. “We work closely with Sanford Orthopedic Physicians providing care for patients of all ages and have been fortunate to work exclusively with elite Division I and II-level athletes from USD, SDSU, Augustana and USF.”
As Hayes looks to the future, he sees many more years of providing world-class care for patients in South Dakota and the surrounding states. He hopes to teach radiology courses to medical students and residents at the USD School of Medicine. And both he and his wife plan to continue pursuing their interests in orthopedic radiology research and publications (Meredith recently won the top paper at The Society of Skeletal Radiology and was then selected to present at the International Radiology Conference in Europe).
It’s a future Hayes is excited about — it’s also one he’s worked hard to achieve. And if he had to do it all over again, his path to success would look very much the same.
“Many large institutions have famous professors who determinate their own success by how many articles they publish in academic journals, but at MMC, the professors determine their success by the success of their students,” Hayes says. “MMC will instill in you an unshakeable sense of faith that will allow you to excel in life beyond your wildest dreams.”
MMC’s Department of Natural Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry, forensic science and medical laboratory science. To learn more, please visit our academics page.