Return to Headlines

Dr. Chad Richardson, Anoka High School, Class of 1988, director of trauma services at Hennepin County Medical Center

Anoka High School (AHS) graduate Dr. Chad Richardson has made a career doing exactly what he's wanted to do since middle school-helping people.

That said, helping people might be a bit modest. How about saving lives?

"Yeah, I certainly do that from time to time," he joked. "All in a day as a trauma surgeon."

As if helping to save lives wasn't enough, Richardson, 44, recently added a pretty significant job title to the front of his name. The 1988 AHS graduate has been put in charge of Minnesota's oldest Level I trauma center, being named director of trauma services at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis.

His inspiration for his career was actually his father, Jack, a former K-9 officer with the Anoka Police Department. Richardson said he often witnessed the after effects of violence and car crashes while out on ride-alongs with his father. He knew from an early age that he wanted to do something to help.

"I didn't know what that meant though," he said. "Would I be a paramedic? What about a police officer or a fireman? I didn't envision being a physician when I was 12 years old, but I knew I wanted to do something."

But things began to click when he was in high school, Richardson said. "I developed a specific interest in biology and anatomy while a student at (AHS)," he said. "I had a biology teacher-Mr. Johnson-and he really stimulated my interest in medicine." That teacher was Gary Johnson, who retired from Anoka High School in 1999 after more than 40 years teaching at the school.

So after graduation from AHS, Richardson attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth for his undergraduate degree in biology. From there he went to the University of Minnesota Medical School. He completed his residency training in surgery at HCMC and then a fellowship at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

"It's a lot of training and a lot of school," he said. "The best advice I can give to a student is to be willing to work hard. That and to be a goal setter-both short and long term goals. The road from finishing high school to being a surgeon is a long one. It's so far away, you need to set short term goals along the way, and that applies to just about everything in life."

As for his current work, Richardson said the most rewarding part of his job is getting the patients he sees back to their lives. Most often, he works with patient-victims of car crashes and shootings.

Now, in addition to that, Richardson will oversee all aspects of the trauma center from patient treatment to doctor training. He will also remain an active surgeon, he said. In total, there are 10 surgeons trained in trauma care on staff at HCMC, and 16 other surgeons for other specialties from neurosurgery to plastic surgery. It'll be Richardson's job to make sure the American College of Surgeons maintains HCMC's verification as a Level I Trauma Center.

"Like I said, all in a day as a trauma surgeon," he said.

Richardson, who went to Dayton Elementary School and then Jackson Middle School before AHS, said his Anoka-Hennepin education really helped prepare him for his current life.

"I wouldn't hesitate for a second to have my kids to go to Anoka-Hennepin schools," he said. "I loved my time there."