MARSHALL – When Dakota Yeaster was a teen-ager growing up in the Michigan community of Jerome, his first-hand experience in helping people in emergencies helped set the stage for a profession in medicine.
“I always knew I had a passion for science,” he said. “I was good at math and science but in the long run, medicine seemed more appealing — being out in the field and working with people.”
That realization came relatively early in life through his hands-on experience at age 17 as a volunteer with the Moscow Township Fire & Rescue Department in Hillsdale County, assisting with emergency calls.
“The calls were predominantly medical in nature, and they helped spark my interest,” he said, nudging him inexorably toward his eventual career as a physician assistant.
In that role, Yeaster has joined Oaklawn Medical Group — Marshall Internal & Family Medicine at 720 N. US-27, Marshall, where he will work alongside Jose Valle, M.D., and other medical providers. Appointments may be made by calling (269) 781-6600.
“I learned pretty early that I wanted to do more for people who were medically in need, and work to prevent individuals from ending up in the situations that sometimes I found them in,” Yeaster said.
As a high school student, Yeaster divided his time between his studies, athletics and working in emergency medical services. Those experiences expanded to include work as a firefighter and licensed emergency medical technician with the Moscow department as well as in Isabella, Clare and Gratiot counties.
Indeed, as an adult Yeaster has remains involved in emergency rescue operations, but his medical focus and a growing interest in the field of cardiology in time led him to focus on the realm of preventive care.
“That was a wake-up call for me,” he said. “If some of these people had had access to primary care, many of their medical problems could have been prevented.”
After graduation from Hanover-Horton High School, Yeaster went on to earn a bachelor of science degree as well as a master of science degree in physician assistant studies, both from Central Michigan University. Yeaster later worked as a physician assistant at the Center for Family Health walk-in clinic in Jackson.
Today, Yeaster is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants.
In his spare time, Yeaster enjoys such activities as mountain biking, snowboarding, hunting and fishing, often around his hometown of Jerome where he’s been known to stalk turkey and deer.
“I like to stay active,” he said.
Yeaster and his fiancee, a physical therapist in Battle Creek, plan to marry in early 2023. Both are graduates of Central Michigan University.
Yeaster — who moved into a Marshall residence in the late summer of 2020 — now says he’s looking forward to returning to Oaklawn, where during his studies he had the opportunity to work during clinical rotations focusing on internal medicine and general surgery.
“I felt at home there versus my experience at some of the larger sites, where you’re just a number,” he said. “There’s a lot of respect for every single member of the staff. Plus, there’s a lot of charm and hometown appeal.”