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Physician Spotlight Maria Stys MD FACC Cardiologist

Maria Stys, MD, FACC

Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland

Family: husband, Adam; children, Julia (12), Natalya (9), Veronica (7), Jacob (4)

Medical School: Warsaw University Medical School, Warsaw, Poland

Residency: State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY

Hobbies: cooking and painting

Favorite Workout: Zumba class

If you didn’t go to medical school: I would’ve studied painting.

How did you come to South Dakota?

I think of it as God’s decision. I needed to work for the government in a medically underserved area. It happened to be Clear Lake, SD. That became my first experience with Sanford. I loved Clear Lake, and I consider it my hometown. We left Clear Lake so I could do some extra training in New York, but it felt natural to come back. We promised our children we would return to South Dakota. When people ask where my accent is from, I say Clear Lake, South Dakota!

You instill your love of Polish cooking in your children.

I learned from my mother, so I’m quite traditional. Our major meals are fish, veal and traditional cooking like pierogi, which is time consuming. I’m trying to teach my daughters and my son how to cook for the future. That’s our wonderful family time together.

Your family also spends time together painting.

I planned to study painting back in Warsaw. My oldest daughter has great talent, too, so we spend time together painting, oil painting mostly, and music is another passion in my life.

When it comes to family business, at Sanford Clinic Heart Partners you practice with your husband and brother-in-law.

My husband and I have worked together since we got married 17 years ago. I studied under my husband (Adam Stys, MD) and his little brother (Tom Stys, MD) when we did our training in New York. I learned so much from them. For our patients, we can easily exchange information and communicate. There is always one of us on call, so there is great continuity of care. We love what we do, and we share this passion within the family.

As a woman in cardiology, what do you want women to know about heart health?

According to statistics, it’s the number one killer for women. We fear for breast cancer, but heart disease is four to five times more frequent than breast cancer. We can prevent the disease. Women have different symptoms and being a female physician I can better understand the unique female heart.

What’s your philosophy of medicine?

I treat every patient as a person I love the most in life, so I have a very personal approach to the patient. I always try to ease the fear which comes with illness and fear of the unknown. I love patients, and it’s great to combine knowledge with all the ethics and morals we learned from childhood. I hope I can use all that to help my patients.