Dr. Steven Maier retired on Sept. 30 after a 35-year career as a general surgeon at Sanford Health Jamestown and Jamestown Regional Medical Center. Shortly after, Maier celebrated with a vacation to Hawaii with his wife.
"It's a long flight," Maier said. "We typically go every three to four years."
Maier said he performed 40,000 procedures throughout his career, with 20,000 of those being surgical procedures and the other 20,000 being endoscopy procedures, which includes gastroscopy and colonoscopy procedures. In his 35-year career, Maier estimated he removed over 3,000 gallbladders in the Jamestown area.
"My favorite part of the job was just being in the operating room. I love to work with my hands," Maier said. "I enjoyed that more than the clinical aspect of it."
Maier said his favorite surgery was the cesarean section, or the surgical birth of a child.
"It's just such a joyous event, the father's in there and there's just people in there watching," Maier said. "It's just kind of a miraculous thing to deliver a baby."
Maier said his first job as a surgeon ended up being his last, spending his entire career in Jamestown. Maier, who grew up in Ashley, North Dakota, studied at North Dakota State University before attending medical school at the University of North Dakota. He graduated in 1979, when he moved to Des Moines, Iowa, to complete his surgical residency until 1984.
"I was probably in my fourth year of surgical training in Iowa and one of the doctors from Jamestown actually came down and approached me. He knew of me and asked if I had any interest in coming to Jamestown," Maier said. "I said I would definitely come and look at it.
"I've been in Jamestown ever since," Maier said.
Maier said like any other career field, the job carried with it some difficult conversations.
"The hardest part was having to give out bad news. It's tough to have to tell a family those things," Maier said.
He said one downside of his practice was being on call for so much of his career.
"There just aren't a lot of surgeons, or there weren't at the time in my earlier career. I would say for five years out of my career I was the only surgeon in town and I was covering three clinics and the hospital, so I got called in a lot."
Maier said for the last two to three years of his career, his phone was a little less busy.
"I've been easing out the last few years, so it's not like I went cold turkey or anything," Maier said. "The last two to three years, I haven't had to take calls. There's new surgeons in town that have kind of given me a break ... so I'm adjusting to retirement just fine."
Maier said he is thankful for his 35 years spent in Jamestown and he plans to continue living here.
"It was an extremely gratifying career. I felt Jamestown was an excellent community as far as how I was trained and what I could do," Maier said. "It was also a great place to raise a family and to raise children."
His favorite part of retirement thus far, aside from the beaches of Hawaii: not being on call.
"It's just felt so different, knowing you're going to be out of the office and the phone isn't going to ring," Maier said. "It's been very different. It's been quite relaxing, actually."