Muskegon native Dr. Sarah N. Pletcher, a surgeon and telemedicine trailblazer, has been named the 2016 Muskegon Community College Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
Pletcher founded and established the Center for Telehealth and Connected Care for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system serving 19 million patients in New England. A faculty member at Dartmouth University’s prestigious Geisel School of Medicine, the fourth oldest medical school in the nation, she also established the Center for Rural Emergency Services and Trauma, a network of 20 rural hospitals in New Hampshire and Vermont supporting emergency and trauma care
Pletcher will be honored on Tuesday, May 3, at the Distinguished Alumni Award Dinner on campus and will address this year’s graduates on Wednesday, May 4, at the 2016 MCC Commencement in Walker Arena.
Established in 1998, the award is the highest honor that MCC bestows upon outstanding alumni whose professional achievements, community service, and advocacy of higher education exemplify the foremost ideals of their alma mater. The honorees are selected by the MCC Alumni Relations Committee.
A single mother and 10 years out of high school when she attended MCC, Pletcher credits the College in more ways than one for helping her find her career path.
“(MCC) saved me as a kid by offering me the outlet of the WINGS program,” said Pletcher. “And it saved me again as a single mom returning to school to pursue a new career path.”
After graduating from MCC in 1997, Pletcher attended Grand Valley State University. From there, she went on to earn her medical degree from Michigan State University, and then accepted a prestigious residency at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine in New Hampshire. She never left.
Now an accomplished surgeon, Pletcher has always had an interest in health care for rural communities.
“I want to build a virtual health system (to) use technology to deliver clinical expertise, at increments of scale, to a patient anywhere,” Pletcher said of her work at the Center for Telehealth.
Along with her increasingly busy career, Pletcher strives to find balance in her life. She has two children, and it was her son Henry who nominated her for the Distinguished Alumni Award.
“She is always telling me or anyone else who will listen about how the quality of teaching she had at MCC was the best of her life,” said Henry.
“MCC offers you a great education with instructors who know how to teach,” said Pletcher. “Take advantage of this time to try different courses and hone your skills as a successful and mature learner. From MCC you can go anywhere, do anything. Don’t let yourself or anyone else limit your possibilities.”