Director, mentor, researcher.
Dr. Dennis Stevens has served as all of them, and throughout his time he's helped put South Dakota on the map in terms of neonatal care, but that's just a sliver of the impact he's made at Sanford Health.
"He's brought the academic side to our unit, and a great clinician to work with, a great team leader," Dr. David Munson said.
Munson has worked alongside Stevens since he started his career at Sanford back in 1980.
And now he is witnessing his associate receive a proclamation from South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard.
"It's an honor to see him, it's an honor for all of us to participate at. But he is a hard worker, he shares his work in many areas as the proclamation said and we are very proud of him," Munson said.
Areas not just limited to KELOLAND.
Stevens has traveled to China four times with Sanford World Clinic to teach physicians there how to save lives, with a fifth trip in the works.
"It's been a real lesson I think for us, to go to a part of the world that I never thought about going. To bring that kind of impact, you know they're still talking about it," Stevens said.
Throughout his 39 years Dr. Stevens has helped care for more than 20,000 babies.
"The number that was quoted really was a cumulative number of babies that in some way I would've touched or participated in the care of," Stevens said.
Stevens has played a major role in creating the NICU unit that Sanford has today, but he doesn't want all the credit. He pays a big thank you to all who've helped along the way.
"I think this is a success for South Dakota, and for babies," Stevens said.
Stevens' first piece of advice to a younger medical student -- decide what your values are and maintain them.
His last piece of advice hits close to home.
"Choose a field that you love, believe in, or feel strongly about and work harder than you ever thought you could," Stevens said.
Stevens says though he's cut down on his NICU hours, he plans to continue teaching research to internal medicine residents as well as consulting in China.