According to Sarasota physician R. Dean Hautamaki, MD ’89, everyone has two choices in life.
“If a building is on fire and people are screaming inside, you either run to the fire or you stand on the curb and take photographs,” he says. “You have to decide who you are: an observer or a doer.”
Hautamaki has committed himself to the doer’s life, and with a recent philanthropic gift to the UF College of Medicine, he and his wife, Lizzie, are supporting the goals of the next generation of physicians and doers. The Dr. R. Dean and Elizabeth F. Hautamaki Endowed Medical Scholarship Fund provides $1 million to establish merit-based scholarships for UF College of Medicine students.
“This scholarship is designed for individuals who are clearly driven, passionate and hardworking in the field of medicine, no matter what specialty they decide to go into,” Hautamaki says. “Every physician practicing in this country should be welltrained, ethical, caring, compassionate and communicative. We can make sure that is the case for every graduate of the UF College Medicine.”
Joseph A. Tyndall, MD, MPH, interim dean of the College of Medicine, says he feels deeply grateful for the Hautamakis’ commitment to UF medical students.
“They understand how daunting tuition debt can be and what a barrier it can pose to aspiring physicians,” Tyndall says. “Their generosity will have an incredible impact upon our best and brightest students.”
After graduating from the UF College of Medicine in 1989, Hautamaki completed a general surgery internship and two years of a general surgery residency at UF before traveling to Missouri for an internal medicine residency and a respiratory/critical care fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis.
“The UF faculty in the basic sciences and the clinical arena were outstanding,” he says. “When I went to St. Louis, I realized how good my education was at UF, not only from a knowledge standpoint but also from a clinical skills standpoint. I realized the education here was really special.”
Hautamaki co-founded the private practice Hautamaki and Horiuchi Personal Physicians of Sarasota in 2008. Unlike many practices in which a physician maintains office hours, Hautamaki and his partners create a continuity of care for their patients, seeing them through stays in the hospital or emergency room, managing their care at rehabilitation facilities and making routine home visits for those who are recovering from surgeries, are homebound or are in hospice.
In addition to serving his patients who pay an annual fee for unlimited health care services, Hautamaki also practices medicine pro bono for 15%-20% of his patients who cannot afford the high costs of health care.
“I’ve always believed you have to love medicine to practice,” he says. “It’s not a job; it’s a way of life. I love diagnosing, treating and getting people back into a healthy state. I love being there for people and giving back. That’s why it’s a calling.”
Ever the multitasker, Hautamaki serves as director for biotechnology companies Fibralign Corp. and First Wave Technologies. He is a co-trustee of the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust, one of the largest private trusts in the state, which is dedicated to health care and community needs on Florida’s Suncoast. He’s a member of the faculty at the Florida State University College of Medicine and the current chair of the UF College of Medicine Dean’s Leadership Council, where he leads a group of physicians, physician assistants and business experts from around the state who provide input and support to the college on topics like fundraising and project management.
When he’s not working, Hautamaki spends time on his cattle ranch east of Sarasota with his wife, who graduated from Ringling College in Sarasota and has taught for more than two decades, including at the Forty Carrots Family Center. A father of four college-aged children, Hautamaki finds peace working in his family’s organic garden, walking his dogs in the woods near his home or moving the cattle around the ranch. Downtime doesn’t come around often, but he has no regrets for the fast-paced life he’s carved out for himself over nearly three decades of practice.
“It’s a lot of work,” Hautamaki says. “It takes its physical and mental toll, and yet it’s the way I wanted to live my life. People in need truly come first.”
This story originally ran in the Winter 2020 issue of the Doctor Gator newsletter.