Dr. Stephen VanWylen, MD
Thoracic and General Surgeon
Dr. Stephen VanWylen, Thoracic and General Surgeon, has a career spanning 35 years and special interest in esophageal surgery. Dr. VanWylen developed a unique skill set in surgical treatment of acid reflux. Of acid reflux, Dr. VanWylen said, “There are around 200 million people who deal with reflux, only a small percent will benefit from surgical treatment. It’s my role as a surgeon to have done the right testing to see who would be benefit from surgery.”
Among Dr. VanWylen’s strengths is patient education. It is important to him to help people understand what reflux is and whether they’d be a good candidate for surgery or not, providing enough information to help people make good decisions. He can treat other acute issues as well, including gall bladders, appendectomies, bowel obstructions, endoscopies, colonoscopies, hemorrhoids, and hernias to name a few.
Born and raised in Michigan, Dr. VanWylen and his wife, Kathy, have five children (spread across the U.S. and Spain) and four grandchildren. He and Kathy are in the process of relocating to Minneapolis where they will be close to grand children and a major airport hub.
When not providing surgeries, Dr. VanWylen enjoys spending time outside both camping and wilderness canoeing, hiking, and swimming. A green thumb, he used to have a backyard apple orchard where he would graft his own trees. A masters swimming competitor, it’s no surprise he enjoys swimming for exercise.
McKenzie Health is excited to have Dr. VanWylen’s expertise on the surgical team! He will provide services one week per month. To schedule an appointment with Dr.VanWylen, please call 701-444-8730. Certainly, if you visit our Emergency Department for unexpected surgical needs, Dr.VanWylen may be the surgeon on-call to provide your treatment.
"In an effort to establish with a primary care physician after not having one for some time, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Kiedrowski in September of 2023. He was thorough, personable, attentive and efficient. His nurse, Karlee was excellent as well. In the lab, I didn't even feel Taylor's stick or draw. From check in to check out, it was an exceptional experience, and I didn't have to leave town. I was back to work within the hour and had my lab results on EPIC's My Chart as soon as they were available. I would recommend McKenzie Health's Rural Health Center to my friends and family."
— Vawnita Best; Rural Watford City, ND
"I recently had hip replacement surgery at McKenzie Health in Watford City.
The entire experience, beginning with registration, to my primary doctor (Dr. Ramage and Maria), Dr. Johnson, Dr. Brewster in surgery scheduling, Dr. Joshi and his surgical team, the nurses on the surgical floor and physical therapists (Jess, Corey, kara and Lexyn) was all that I could ask for and more.
I felt your genuine concern for my well-being and care. You folks all deserve some recognition, so please give yourself a big pat on the back for a job well done and the service you continue to provide the citizens of western North Dakota.
We are indeed fortunate to have a facility of this caliber, along with its dedicated health professionals and employees, here in Watford City. Thank you again McKenzie Health!"
— Kent Taylor
— Patsy Levang; Keene, ND
— Ted Lone Fight III; Mandaree, ND
— Ernest Lambert; Belcourt, ND
— Marco Pelton; Watford City, ND
"In January of 2022, I slipped on the ice and broke my ankle. The initial ER visit that Thursday evening to stabilize it until surgery was efficient and the care was very good. Dr Joshi's nurse scheduled a pre-op consultation by telemed Friday morning and two hours later, Dr Joshi was conducting that consultation with me. The following Monday I had surgery to plate the break and clean and repair the damaged joint. Post-op with Dr. Joshi and his surgical team was seamless. They were caring, efficient and concise in their communication and their treatment plan. Follow-ups with Dr. Joshi and Dr. Tomjack were easy to schedule; they were on schedule, and check-in and check-outs were quick and easy, including pharmacy and insurance aspects of the user experience. All of these skilled services were high-quality, efficient, and delivered right here at home. There were no miserable vehicle transports to Bismarck, Minot, Williston, or Sidney while in pain. All the medical visits and procedures were quick, efficient and convenient, so I could get right back to healing.
Thank you McKenzie Health providers and staff. You are making a difference in the lives of McKenzie County residents and beyond."
— Vawnita Best; Rural Watford City, ND
— Kelly Peterson; Watford City, ND
— Jan Dodge; Watford City, ND
— Ron Anderson; Keene, ND
— Myra Anderson; Keene, ND
— Evelyn Wilson; Huntsville, AL
Dr. VanWylen has Specialized Skills in:
- 29+ years practicing Thoracic and General Surgery in Holland, Michigan
- Anti-reflux surgery
- Diagnosis (development of esophageal lab: impedance high resolution manometry, impedance pH testing, BRAVO pH testing, Restech pharyngeal pH testing)
- Treatment (laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication, laparoscopic LINX procedure, Belsey MarkIV fundoplication, transoral incisionless fundoplication)
- Diagnosis and treatment of benign esophageal diseases including achalasia
- General surgery
- Advanced laparoscopic skills including anti-reflux, colon, adrenal, CBD exploration
- Breast, hernia (including complex abdominal wall reconstruction)
- Endocrine (thyroid and adrenal)
- Hepato-pancreatic-biliary procedures utilizing open and advanced laparoscopic techniques
- 3 years as rural surgeon in Medford, WI
- Hernia Repair
- Lumps and Bumps
- Foreign Body Removal
Awards & Accolades
- The effect of imidazole in endotoxin shock in dogs.
VanWylen SJ, Browning DP, Villalba M. Am Surg. 1986 Aug; 52(8):413-7.
Winner Charles G. Johnston award (Detroit Surgical Association), Midwest Surgical Association, and William Beaumont Hospital resident research awards.1984
- Disappearance of Pneumoperitoneum after Laparoscopy
Winner of clinical research award, GRAMEC, 1992
Education & Certifications
- B.A., Chemistry, Philosophy — Hope College; Holland, MI
- Dip. H.E., Theology — Trinity Theological College; Bristol, England
- M.D. — Michigan State University College of Human Medicine; East Lansing, MI
- Post Graduate Training
General Surgery — William Beaumont Hospital; Royal Oak, MI
General Thoracic Surgery — E. Birmingham Hospital; Birmingham, England
Dr. VanWylen's Favorite Things to do:
- Board Member Regional HMO–1990s
- Catechism teacher–local church for 22 years
- Service as elder/deacon at local church
- Youth soccer coach