June 25, 2017

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Family Medicine a Family Affair for ACMC-Granite Falls Doctors Kenneth and Darrell Carter

Dr. Darrell and Dr. Kenneth Carter, ACMC Granite FallsGrowing up on a farm in Ada, Minn., Drs. Kenneth and Darrell Carter never would have guessed they would pursue careers in family medicine. Nor did either expect to serve the same community for more than 40 years. Dr. Ken has been seeing patients there since 1970 and Dr. Darrell since 1972.

When Dr. Ken left home to pursue higher education, the idea of being a doctor—a doctor to humans that is—still wasn’t something he thought he’d ever do. He was studying to become a veterinarian.

“I didn’t think I was smart enough for medical school, but I liked the idea of medicine. I went to become a veterinarian instead. I had four quarters of vet school under my belt the day I decided to apply for medical school. I was sitting in pathology lab when someone asked me if I was going to submit an application as several of my classmates had. I decided to apply, and the rest as they say is history,” he said with a smile.

And for Dr. Darrell medicine seemed like a distant dream.

“In high school we took aptitude tests, which pointed me toward some sort of professional career. Medical school didn’t seem like a possibility to me. I didn’t know how a small town kid living on a farm near Ada, would be able to compete with a bunch of kids from a larger school in the city. I started out at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, but wasn’t sure what major to pursue. Many of my courses happened to be with pre-med students and that eventually led me to medical school,” Dr. Darrell said.

A Rural Upbringing, A Small-Town Practice in Granite Falls

“Our mom was really proud to have two sons go into medicine,” Dr. Ken said. “Life on the farm wasn’t always easy and she wanted us to have a better life.”

But it was that rural upbringing that led the brothers to working in a smaller community.

“I don’t think it was a question in either of our minds about the kind of place we wanted to make home and practice family medicine. Granite Falls fit the bill for both of us,” Dr. Darrell said.

By the time Darrell started looking at Granite Falls, Dr. Ken had already spent two years practicing with two physicians at the Granite Medical Center.

“Dr. Carl Lundell and Dr. Paul G. Schmidt were just what you expected of country docs; they had experience doing everything.  That was a huge benefit to us. Darrell and I worked hard in school, but we worked harder out here. When we became board certified, both of us did better than our counterparts in the Cities because of the hands-on experience and everything we had the chance to learn from them,” said Dr Ken.

Dr. Darrell added, “Over the years, I think that’s something that Ken and I have really appreciated about working in Granite Falls. We get to see a little bit of everything, while still exploring areas that most interest us. I could roll OB, pediatrics and cardiology into one practice. On any given day we might sew up a wound, set a fracture and then perform a well child exam on a young patient or see a 90-year-old patient with he­art problems. We’ve been fortunate to be able to practice such a wide range of medicine.”

A Part of Their Community

When you live and work in a community the size of Granite Falls, patients are often also acquaintances and friends.

“It’s special to be a part of a town where you know your patients and their families as more than just a patient. Though our relationships with our patients are more informal, the mutual trust and respect between us is stronger,” said Dr. Darrell. “I think these relationships enables us to develop a better partnership with our patients when it comes to their health care.”

Practicing medicine through the years in Granite Falls has been a rewarding experience for Dr. Ken and Dr. Darrell.  Over the last 40-plus years, they’ve been through and accomplished a lot.  Dr. Darrel has played a crucial role in the development of a CALS (comprehensive advanced life support) course under the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians.  Throughout the years the scope of their practice has changed.  Both have become board certified in geriatrics as well as their family medicine specialty.

Drs. Kenneth and Darrell are well-respected by their peers, colleagues and patients.  And though they are humble when talking about it, both have been recognized as outstanding physicians in their community and across the state.  Dr. Darrell was named Minnesota Rural Health Hero in 2001, Physician of the Year in 2001 by the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Physician of the Year in 2003 by the American Academy of Family Physicians and most recently   2014 Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians’ President’s Award.  Dr. Ken was a finalist for Physician of the Year by the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians this year.

The brothers are proud of what one another has accomplished in their decades-long practice in Granite Falls though neither believes they’re doing anything out of the realm of what healthcare providers do.

“We’re doctors; we help people. It’s innate in what we do. But to practice medicine, we have to innovate, learn and grow as doctors and as individuals. In the past forty-plus years we’ve both seen and done a lot.  We couldn’t have done it without the support of our community and fellow staff and providers at ACMC,” Dr. Ken said.

The brothers agree they couldn’t have asked for a better place to do what they love to do—helping others through their medical practices.