September 27, 2022

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2022 Top Doctors: Rising Stars Edition

This is the eighth edition of our Top Doctors: Rising Stars list—exceptional physicians who have been fully licensed to practice for approximately 10 years or less.

When compiling any list of this nature, research is essential. We asked physicians to nominate one or more doctors (excluding themselves) to whom they would go if they or a loved one were seeking medical care. From there, candidates were grouped into 42 specialties and evaluated on myriad factors, including (but not limited to) peer recognition, professional achievement, and disciplinary history. Doctors with the highest scores from each grouping were invited to serve on a blue-ribbon panel that evaluated the other candidates. It should be noted, doctors cannot pay to be included on this list, nor are they paid to provide input. Physicians are chosen using a patented multiphase selection process, combining peer nominations and evaluations with independent research. In the end, only doctors who acquired the highest total points appear on Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s 2022 Top Doctors: Rising Stars list.

Of course, no list is perfect. Many qualified doctors providing excellent care are not included on this year’s list. However, if you’re looking for exceptional physicians who have earned the confidence and high regard of their peers, you can start your search here or go to mspmag.com/risingstars. In addition to the list you find here, this year’s group of Rising Stars will join a prestigious group of doctors from more than 20 cities around the country who have been selected to Super Doctors, the full list of which you can find at superdoctors.com.

>>See the full list of 2022 Rising Stars here.


Heidi Erickson, MD

Pulmonary medicine and critical care physician at Hennepin Health, program director of its critical care medicine fellowship, and an assistant professor of medicine at University of Minnesota

Ensuring Critical Care For All

Why did you want to be a doctor?

Like a lot of people in medicine, I was a nerdy, curious kid who got really excited in science class and loved the outdoors and was captivated with the idea of helping people. I grew up with a lot of ear problems and had a lot of surgeries throughout my childhood. I had a neat relationship with my ENT [ear, nose, and throat doctor] and still remember him explaining things to me like I was a grown-up. I had really positive interactions with health care as a kid.

How did you choose pulmonary and critical care medicine?

I love the intensity of the ICU and the challenges of pulmonary medicine. I’m pretty calm under pressure and have clarity in times of stress, which is important in the ICU. And then the pulmonary aspect affords me the opportunity to have a long-term relationship with patients and actually be able to talk with them. Another big part of what I love here at Hennepin is the teaching. I really enjoy medical education and teaching and training, and also learning from trainees.

What motivates you?

A lot of my important life choices have been about choosing places or people that allow me to be productive in channeling my existential angst about our inequitable health care system and social justice—to allow me to better advocate for people with the most diverse backgrounds, people with the highest needs and fewest means. That’s what landed me at Hennepin as a resident. It’s a safety-net hospital for low-income, uninsured, vulnerable folks that also has premier teaching and patient care and technology. It’s a diamond in the rough.

You have been on the front lines of COVID during the past two years. What has that been like?

It’s been long and challenging and heartbreaking and exhausting. It’s a time that has been marred with anxiety of the unknown, my distress about the volume of misinformation and the platforms that have been provided to people who spread it, and the politicization of science and public health. But there are some positive things. I have the best partner in my spouse and the best team—my colleagues, the nurses, respiratory therapists, and trainees. I wouldn’t have survived the hellfire of the pandemic without them.

I have been fortunate to be a part of contributing, with a colleague of mine, to the IVY [Influenza and Other Viruses in the Acutely Ill] Network. With 20-plus other centers in the United States, we’ve been able to contribute substantially to the knowledge related to public health surveillance, epidemiology, and vaccine effectiveness. Being part of research has been so enriching. Early in the pandemic, it gave me an outlet to channel my fears and anxieties about this new disease into something positive, and it’s blossomed into  providing the scientific community with an abundance of data that has guided recommendations and policies. We learned about some of the risk factors for getting COVID or getting really sick; how to protect people, including preventing health care workers from getting sick; and the effectiveness of the vaccines. It’s been really humbling. I grew up here, and I feel really grateful that I can, even in a small way, contribute and give back to my community.

What lessons from the pandemic will stick with you?

Some of the key lessons I learned—or was reminded of—include the importance of prevention and public health preparedness. Vaccines save lives. Basic public health tenets, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining distance, do too. How to better treat patients with COVID-19, including respiratory support and medication options, and the value of multidisciplinary support for those patients with long COVID or post-ICU syndrome.

Also, the importance of representation and diversity in research and clinical trials—as part of the IVY Network, our patients enriched the diversity pool and made huge contributions to the scientific community. How to better combat and deal with the spread of deadly misinformation and the weaponizing of science. There’s the importance of community engagement and the need for a more consistent and deeper commitment to providing equitable and just care. And finally, when one’s resiliency, adaptability, and fortitude wane, it’s time to recharge so as to bend and not break.

“Being part of research has been so enriching. Early in the pandemic, it gave me an outlet to channel my fears and anxieties about this new disease into something positive.”


—Dr. Heidi Erickson, Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care


Ronda Farah, MD

Assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota, director of dermatology at M Health Fairview Maple Grove clinic, and founder and director of the M Health Cosmetic Center

Solving Challenging Skin Issues

What led you to dermatology?

As a medical student, I was very interested in the nervous system and going into neurosurgery. I then began to do research with Dr. Maria Hordinsky, the head of the Department of Dermatology at the U of M and a hair loss and scalp disease specialist. I became fascinated by dermatology, and during medical school, I focused my research on studying the nerves of the scalp with her. The skin and the hair are windows into disease. Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is a fascinating field within dermatology that I have developed a passion for serving.

What do you enjoy about being a dermatologist?

My practice is medical and cosmetic dermatology. In addition to hair loss, I also see a large volume of patients with skin cancers, rashes, acne, gender care concerns, and scars. A lot of my patients with hair loss and scalp disease also have cosmetic concerns, or they might have skin cancer, so I can do their skin check, and I can do their botulinum toxin and grow their hair.  I enjoy a mix of cosmetic and medical dermatology, as it allows the patient to get both types of care in one place. I also enjoy talking with patients about how their skin makes them look and feel. Our skin and hair affect us every day. It’s important for physicians to remain engaged in cosmetic medicine because we can apply cosmetic treatments in innovative ways to treat medical disease.

What are the most fulfilling parts of your work?

My favorite part of my job is patient care—that’s number one. My patients, especially the ones I have been seeing for years, drive me to come to work every day. And then working with my medical team—nurses, scribes, check-in, supervisors, and more. Exposure to medical students and residents is right up there. They are asking new questions, and they come up with new ideas, and they challenge you to be better every single day. I am passionate about mentorship—this includes mentorship of women in medicine. I have children (two under the age of 6). Balancing work and children as a working mom is difficult but rewarding. And research—I love having a clinical question and figuring out how to design a study to answer it.  Developing novel treatment options to help patients is exciting.

How do you think patient care in dermatology will evolve?

There are not enough dermatologists in the United States. There has been a huge improvement and rapid expansion of telemedicine from COVID-19. I also see patients via telemedicine. We now have outreach to states that did not have a lot of dermatological care. I think teledermatology will continue to grow the ability for the limited number of dermatologists to reach patients. An upcoming technology is total body photography, or mole mapping, that has advanced significantly for skin cancer screening. You will see more artificial intelligence to help with skin cancer and hair disease. We are also using artificial intelligence for hair loss. And I think hair health, scalp health, and cosmetic product safety will be fields for huge growth. I am excited to be a contributor to research in this field.

“There has been a huge improvement and rapid expansion of telemedicine from COVID-19…. We now have outreach to states that did not have a lot of dermatological care.”


—Dr. Ronda Farah, Medical and Cosmetic Dermatology


Der-Chen Timothy Huang, MD

Orthopedic surgeon at TRIA Orthopedic Center in Woodbury and Stillwater, specializing in hip and knee replacements and revisions of joint replacements 

Optimizing Outcomes

How did you choose orthopedics?

I was on track to be a pediatrician, and then I saw my first orthopedic case. One case was all it took to change my mind. The ability to make an immediate impact in someone’s life drew me to orthopedic surgery. I picked joint replacements because with hip and knee surgery, I can help people regain the ability to walk and do the activities they want to do with minimal pain and discomfort. With hip surgery, 95 to 99 percent of people wake up and say, “The pain I had before surgery is gone.” It’s one of the best surgeries we have in terms of pain relief and restoring function.

What are the highlights of your job?

Interacting with patients. I like doing the surgery itself, of course, and I enjoy the patient contact in the clinic. I like talking with patients before and after the surgery. I take on more the role of a coach, coaching them through the process of recovery. After the surgery, my job from a technical standpoint is done. Now it’s getting them through taking care of the surgical wound and doing therapy and exercises and managing their expectations. That’s fun for me. I like to treat everyone like I would want my family members to be treated.

How do you see orthopedic patient care changing?

Technology continues to evolve and is getting better. As a profession, we’re moving toward doing more and more shorter stays for hip and knee surgeries. People used to stay in the hospital for days or weeks, and now they are going home the same day—with the addition of preoperative education, coordination, and home support. As technology moves forward, there will be more patient engagement platforms and more texting or application-based communication through health portals or apps. It exists now and will continue to be streamlined and become more user friendly. We also will see the development of smart implants and robotics platforms. And we will be able to utilize large population data sets to optimize individual outcomes.

What drives you at work?

Seeing how well the patients do after surgery. When people come in and they are grateful to get back to the activities they weren’t able to do before, like hiking, playing tennis, skiing, biking, just walking—and going back to work—that’s super motivating. When patients come in and say, “Thank you for what you’ve done,” that puts a huge smile on my face. But it’s not just me. I have a great team. The whole team coming together to make everything happen, that’s rewarding. I also like doing revisions—the complex redo surgeries. This includes infections, failed implants, dislocations, etc. Someone had a hip or knee replacement and it didn’t go well, or they had it replaced 30 years ago and it’s worn out. We have to figure out how to fix it, and there can be complicated factors, such as bone loss, existing hardware that needs to be removed, fractures, or malalignment issues and stability issues. It can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding.

“The ability to make an immediate impact in someone’s life drew me to orthopedic surgery…. I can help people regain the ability to walk and do the activities they want to do with minimal pain and discomfort.”


—Dr. Der-Chen Timothy Huang, Orthopedic Surgery

>>See the full list of 2022 Rising Stars here.


© 2022 MSP Communications. All rights reserved. Super Doctors® is a registered trademark of MSP Communications. Disclaimer: The information presented is not medical advice, nor is Super Doctors a physician referral service. We strive to maintain a high degree of accuracy in the information provided. We make no claim, promise, or guarantee about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in the directory. Selecting a physician is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising. Super Doctors is the name of a publication, not a title or moniker conferred upon individual physicians. No representation is made that the quality of services provided by the physicians listed will be greater than that of other licensed physicians, and past results do not guarantee future success. Super Doctors is an independent publisher that has developed its own selection methodology; it is not affiliated with any federal, state, or regulatory body. Self-designated practice specialties listed in Super Doctors do not imply “recognition” or “endorsement” of any field of medical practice, nor do they imply certification by a Member Medical Specialty Board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or that the physician has competence to practice the specialty. List research concluded February 17, 2022.