Sara K. Dye, M.D., works to reduce the number of diabetes-related amputations among American Indians. In 1984, she developed the first non-invasive vascular laboratory for the Indian Health Services and was appointed director of the institute.
Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1945 and a member of the SacFox and Shawnee tribes, Sara Dye was told by her high school counselor that her grades were not high enough for her to go to medical school. Instead she studied to become an X-ray technician. After graduating with the highest grade on her radiologic technologist exam she regained the confidence she needed to train as a physician. In 1968, she began undergraduate studies at Northeastern Oklahoma State University in Tahlequah, where she graduated with a 3.8 grade point average in pre-med. In 1971 she was accepted at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire, and she received her doctor of medicine degree in 1975. Unsure of a specialty, Dr. Dye first worked as a general medical officer at Claremore Indian Hospital in Oklahoma. Later, after a residency in general surgery at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center of New Hampshire in 1983, Dr. Dye became one of only sixteen American Indian surgeons practicing in the United States.
Dr. Dye was named staff surgeon at Carl Albert Indian Hospital in Ada, Oklahoma, in 1983. Throughout the next decade she served the hospital and community as clinical director, developer and director of the Non-Invasive Vascular Laboratory. During this time, Dr. Dye was also a member of the admission board of the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. In 1994, she accepted the position of chief medical officer of the Aberdeen, South Dakota, Indian Health Service. Since that time she has also served as a consulting general surgeon for the Cheyenne River Indian Hospital. In 2003, she was appointed assistant professor of family medicine at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine.
A member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, Dr. Dye was named the Outstanding Indian Health Service Clinician for 1992, and in 1998 was named Physician Executive of the Year by the U.S. Public Health Service Physicians Professional Advisory Committee. In 2001, she was given the Friend of Nursing Award by the Indian Health Service National Council of Nurse Administrators.