Treating Patients Like Family | Billy Haug, MD

BikingDr. Billy Haug’s warm personality and genuine caring spirit makes him a favorite around Altru Health System. His patients say his vested interest in their health and well-being, beyond their time at the clinic, is what sets him apart. We’ve heard from many of Dr. Haug’s patients recently on the care they’ve received, and all gave glowing reviews. So, we sat down with Dr. Haug to get to know him a little more and understand what drives him to treat each patient as though they were family.

Q: What is the focus of your work at Altru Advanced Orthopedics?
A. My practice focuses on medical orthopedic care, such as injury management, ultrasound guided injections, concussion management and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. I enjoy caring for those of all ages, from infants with hip dysplasia to folks in their nineties with arthritis.

Q: What have you done outside of the clinic in your field?
A. Earlier in my career I was a team physician for the USA Cross-Country Ski Team and Nordic Combined Team (which involves ski-jumping as well as cross-country skiing). I traveled with them to Norway and Finland. I also worked with the United States Anti-Doping Association at the World Junior Hockey Championship. Three years ago I was appointed to the North Dakota State Board of Medicine which meets three times a year in Bismarck.

Q: What is your approach to care?
A. I strive to be present for my patients — to really listen to them and understand their concerns. It is imperative to respect their wishes and to include them in the plan of care to reach their goals. My staff and I focus on treating everyone the way we would like our family members to be treated.

Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
A. Knowing my patients trust me with their care, and to care for their family, is humbling and rewarding. It motivates me to come to work every day with a smile knowing I can share a part of their lives. That trust is so special, and it is a bond I take seriously.

Family

Q: Why did you choose to become a physician?
A. Growing up in Grafton, N.D., I had physicians who made a difference not only in my life, but in the community as a whole. One physician made a house call to see me on a cold winter’s day, and I have always remembered that. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives the way they did in mine.

Q: What do you do for fun?
A. My wife and I enjoy spending a lot of time with our children. We do outdoor activities and take them to live theater and musicals as much as we can. I also enjoy spending time in northeastern Minnesota paddling my kayak, taking part in bicycle endurance races and playing the guitar.

Kayak

Q: What do you do outside of your role at Altru?
A. For the last five years I have volunteered to read weekly at my children’s elementary school in “Book Buddies.” It is a wonderful way to start a day! I am also involved with Special Olympics, volunteering at the annual soccer and bocce ball tournament and at local events. My son has Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), and he is excited now that he is old enough to participate in Special Olympics! Additionally, I am the medical director for the Wild Hog Marathon in Grand Forks. It’s a historic event this year as it’s the first full distance running marathon in Grand Forks!

Q: Where would you like to travel?
A. When I traveled with the USA Ski Team, I befriended a physician and a few coaches from Russia. Hearing their stories gave me some serious perspective. It is a place I’ve since wanted to visit and hopefully reestablish those friendships. I’d also love to take my children to England and expose them to where the famous British romantic poets lived. My daughter would especially love to see the new “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” theater production in London.

Q: What would you like to be if you weren’t a physician?
A. The scientist in me would have loved to be a university professor, studying the ecology of the rain forests in South America. The humanitarian in me would love to be a writer, using verse to share the human experience. Don’t look for my work in libraries or bookstores anytime soon, but maybe someday I’ll make an attempt!

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