A reluctant student at first, Dr. Carrie Kern has found her niche as the new family medicine provider at Mayo Clinic Health System in Ellsworth.
It wasn’t until her senior year of college that Kern decided on a career as a physician, she said.
A “big hang-up” was the entrance exams she knew she’d have to take, Kern said. And they were to be the first of many.
Yet, she believed she had a strong science background, counting chemistry as a top subject when she was at Red Wing High School, she said. Advanced literature was another favorite (because it was both challenging and rewarding) for the daughter of John and Linda who played volleyball and softball, ran track and was in band before graduating from RWHS in 2001.
Still undecided about her employment goal, Kern said she emphasized chemistry while at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., for four years. She also enjoyed an art class she “took for fun” and a women’s studies class she entered late in her time at the college, a subject which might have gained more of her attention if she’d encountered it earlier, she admitted.
“Then I took a year off,” she said.
During that year, Kern got a job at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in the Twin Cities as a cardiovascular monitor technician. She assisted in the cardiovascular unit. Like the hospital, the unit was big; there were 35 operating rooms, for example.
Once her career decision was finalized, the student went to medical school at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. The D.O. designation behind her name differs from M.D. in that she has extra training in the muscular-skeletal system, she explained.
While there for four years, she was introduced to a holistic approach, being able to avoid medications in some treatments, for instance.
After graduating in 2010, Kern completed a residency at the University of Minnesota-St. Joseph’s Hospital Family Medicine in St. Paul. The three-year program had her caring for an array of patients of varied ethnic backgrounds.
This past April, the new physician became board certified. She became licensed in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Following the first year of her residency, Kern had sent a job application to Red Wing’s hospital, she remembered.
To her surprise, she was offered her present position in Ellsworth right away, she said. Signing on with two years of residency left, she was able to somewhat tailor the rest of that experience to the role she understood was to come.
This fall, she spent a few weeks at the Red Wing medical center before arriving at the Ellsworth clinic, she said.
“I’ve already met a lot of families,” she said, adding, “I’m looking forward to offering pre-natal care to my patients here and following them through delivery at the hospital.”