Dr. Darin Leetun of Altru Advanced Orthopedics helps patients get back to the life they enjoy through thorough care and advanced procedural offerings. He’s also a doctor for the USA hockey, ski and snowboarding teams. On top of that, he provides regular free presentations to the community on common concerns with joint pain, and even has time to mix in a round of golf or two. We sat down with Dr. Leetun to discover more about his approach to care, and the things he enjoys doing when he’s not focused on joints.
Q: What is your area of specialty?
A: I focus on shoulder and knee care. I do everything from basic care and non-surgical treatment to replacements. I enjoy having that focus as I can confidently manage everything for patients related to their shoulder or knee concerns.
Q: What’s your approach to care?
A: I approach caring for my patients as a partnership. I like to work with them to achieve the goal that they’re looking for. Whether it’s to return to an activity, sport or just everyday life—my number one priority is to help an individual accomplish what they set out to do when they sought care. My goal isn’t always to do a surgery, it’s to do whatever I can to get them back to activity with the least amount of risk and difficulty for them. I look at every option and try to emphasize partnering with them to make a decision, not making the decision for them.
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
A: My motivation is simply the fact that I believe God has given me a gift that I can use to help others. Although I may not always be perfect, I can be helpful in what I do and take something that I’ve been blessed with and be a blessing to others.
Q: When did you know that you wanted to go into medicine?
A: My interest in medicine started when I was very young. I broke my arm when I was six, and to set it, the doctor used the fluoroscopy (or live x-ray), so I could see my bones being moved. That experience really got me interested in dealing with bones.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
A: I enjoy the challenge. Every day is different. Every day there’s something new that I need to adapt to and try to overcome. I enjoy learning new things and adding to my practice. Medicine is advancing all the time, and we’re adding new and better ways to care for our patients—like our recent addition of the Mako Robotic-Arm. That’s allowed me to offer more precision in a partial knee replacement, which is a great value for patients.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I enjoy golfing and working in my yard. I also enjoy spending time catching up with family and friends—I feel that those relationships are very important. I just got done goose hunting with my cousins. I’ve never hunted for geese in my life, but I did it so we could spend time together. Unfortunately we got skunked—we didn’t get any geese. But, we had a good day. We enjoyed hanging out and experiencing the benefits of what North Dakota brings.
Q: Where would you most like to travel to?
A: For me, it would be going to Israel, to Jerusalem. Seeing all the places and sites where Jesus walked and talked, helping the Bible to come alive—to gain a better understanding of what was being taught. Hopefully it would be an opportunity where I could to grow in my faith and apply it to my life.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I graduated from Bismarck Century High School, then I went to the University of North Dakota. I actually spent my junior year at the University of Alabama doing a student exchange program (primarily because I was a huge Alabama Crimson Tide fan). Then, I ended up going back to Alabama for my first two years of medical school before finishing my medical degree at the University of Virginia. From there, I went to Fort Worth, Texas for five years, and then off to Australia for my fellowship training before starting an orthopedic practice. I’ve been in Grand Forks three years this August.
Q: What do you like about being in Grand Forks?
A: Grand Forks reminds me of how Bismarck was when I grew up. Not too big, not too small. I like the opportunities here with the Greenway, the outdoor activities, etc. But, I’ve got to be honest—my favorite thing is UND Hockey. I’m a big fan; I’ve always been. Having the opportunity to go to the games on a regular basis and enjoy the quality of hockey we have here, week in and week out, that’s a huge plus.