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Dr. Sharon M. Malotte

Year of Birth / Death

b. 1955

Medical School

University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences



Career Path

General medicine: Family
Dr. Sharon M. Malotte


Dr. Sharon Malotte is the first indigenous Nevadan to become a doctor.
Dr. Sharon Malotte is the first "Miss Indian Nevada" of two to become a doctor.


As a 5 year old, I wanted to become a doctor, because: "When I grow up, I'm going to be a doctor, so I can boss YOU around!!" Those words were spoken to my mother, a licensed practical nurse. She was medically retired at age 44, and I never got the chance to work with her, or ever give her an order as a physician. She recently passed away, but I'm sure she knew I never would be able to "boss her around." As I got older, I really was interested in taking care of the sick and wounded, starting with my household pets; and early on, it was a toss-up between becoming a vet and becoming a people doctor. I decided on people, because there was such an accomplishment in making people better, and besides, they could talk back to me.


Dr. Sharon Malotte is a member of the TeMoak Band of Western Shoshones of the South Fork Indian Reservation. She is the first indigenous Nevadan to become a doctor and was named Miss Indian Nevada 1977. Malotte considers her heritage an integral part of her work, in building relationships with patients and acting as a mentor, devoting much of her time to public speaking. As a woman who has overcome significant difficulties to become a successful physician, she is a role model for students and her own daughters.

Sharon Malotte was born in 1955, in Nevada. Her mother, Barbara Malotte Pete and her grandmother Ruby Ridley were both nurses, and Malotte wanted to be a doctor from the age of 5. She studied at the University of Nevada-Reno and completed pre-medicine courses at the University of North Dakota-Grand Forks. Her eldest daughter Bhie-Cie Naïve Malotte-Ledesma was born in 1980, and in 1985 Malotte completed her undergraduate degree in human biology at Stanford University.

Sharon Malotte then enrolled at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and received her M.D. degree in 1989. Dr. Malotte completed residencies in internal medicine at the University of Nevada-Reno in 1991 and the University of San Francisco-Fresno in 1993.

After completing her residencies Dr. Malotte served as medical director of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Health Clinic in Schurz, Nevada, providing medical care to the people of the reservation as the only family practice specialist at the clinic. She went on to a two-year post at a rural Indian Health Service clinic, followed by a year at an urban clinic, both in California, to fulfill scholarship obligations from her medical school years. In 1998 she moved back to Nevada to take up the post of 'Rite of Passage Medical Consultant' at an adolescent treatment facility. Her second daughter Darcy Rose Malotte-Emm was born in 1995.

Dr. Malotte has remained in Nevada for the most part ever since, and is currently an internist and emergency staff physician at the Battle Mountain General Hospital. She is also medical director of the Long Term Care Facility there. Since 2001 she has volunteered as the Lander County Health Officer.

Dr. Malotte maintains a strong connection with her Indian heritage as well as those interests she developed growing up in Nevada. In 1977 she was named 'Miss Indian Nevada' and 'Miss Nevada Indian Rodeo Association', and today coaches her youngest daughter Darcy in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and roping events for junior rodeo competitions.

Dr. Malotte is a member of the Association of American Indian Physicians and has served as a Native American Representative to the Governing Committee of the Minority Affairs Consortium of the American Medical Association. She is proud to be a role model for American Indian men and women and frequently gives presentations at local high schools for career day events. She is also aware of her influence on a day-to-day basis, making a difference "by being an identifiable minority person, with a high profile, an obviously prestigious job, and being a real person that other people can identify with."

Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

STANFORD. Growing up, I had a lot of encouragement from my family, and a lot of positive feedback from my scholastic achievements in elementary, junior high and high school. This all changed when I entered Stanford University. Stanford didn't care that I was a Native American, and that I was a first-generation college student. Stanford cared that I did my work, learned my courses, and knew enough to pass my classes. Stanford didn't care about my background, but cared that I did well. I benefited from the stringent rules that caused me to learn how to learn, and not just get by, because I did come from a different background. Stanford taught me humility, because all of a sudden, I was just an average student, and not a gifted one.

How do I make a difference?

I came from a background of alcohol abuse in my family, my father abused alcohol, and this led to my parents divorce. This made me, in the 1950s and 1960s, being from one of the first ever single-parent households. Seeing that my mother could accomplish what she did, made me realize I could do anything if I wanted it bad enough. After I attended Stanford, as an older student, a single parent, I subsequently went to medical school with a two-year-old in tow, and then took her with me, except for the fourth-year clerkships, through internal medicine residency. Medical school is possible as a single parent, and I tell them how I did it, with help from friends, day care, and letting them know that medical school is not forever.

Who was my mentor?

In different stages of my life, there were different mentors, however, the most constant mentors, or role models were my Grandmother, Ruby Ridley, LPN, and my mother, Barbara Malotte Pete, LPN, now both deceased. My grandmother, Ruby Ridley, was a licensed practical nurse, and I don't even know if she ever went to high school. She was a full-blooded Shoshone Indian, who started at Washoe County Hospital in Reno, Nevada working in the housekeeping department, and learned how to be a nurse through the work-learn program. She subsequently took the licensing exam and was certified as a licensed practical nurse. She never received any formal nursing education, but she wore her white nursing hat, white dress, and white stockings proudly, because she learned it all from the ground up. My mother, Barbara Malotte Pete, also began work in housekeeping at the hospital in Elko, Nevada, initially doing menial chores and then working up to nursing duties. With no formal nursing training, my mother also challenged, and passed, the Licensed Practical Nursing Exam. This she did, as a single parent of three small children, one of the first divorced women of the 1950s. If my mother could do that, with no high school diploma, then if I graduated from Stanford I should be able to become anything I wanted. A Native American mentor at Stanford University was a then-medical student, DeAnn DeRoine, now Dr. DeAnn DeRoine. She encouraged me to stick with my pre-med studies, even though it seemed I would never be good enough. At Stanford, I also was encouraged by the Stanford Minority Pre-Med Program, much as I would be by the next great support in my life, the INMED Program. Last of all, but probably the most important, was the Indians into Medicine (INMED) program in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, and supported by the Universities of North and now South Dakota, it is a program specifically targeted for Native American People, primarily from the five-state service area, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming to enter the medical field in all capacities. Graduates of the INMED program are doctors, nurses, medical technicians, etc. For me, the mentors from INMED, were all the native American medical students in each medical school class, and the Indian MD graduates who came back to visit the program. I am successful because when I saw other Indians as doctors, then I knew I could do it too.

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