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Like her patients, Essentia Health's newest Ob/Gyn juggles family, career

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Dr. Alicia Prahm, Essentia Health’s new obstetrician/gynecologist, believes she has always been compassionate toward her patients. Many of them, despite feeling tired, achy and uncomfortable during the last few months of their pregnancy, continue to care for their young children while working.

Prahm was empathetic then, but she gets it now. She’s living it, too.

Prahm (rhymes with “name”) and her husband, Jeremy, have two young children, Walter, 2; and Margaret, or “Maggie,” 3 months.

Throw in a new job and a move to a new community while on maternity leave and it’s understandable that life has been a whirlwind for her.

“I’m nursing and he’s potty training. We’re a mess,” Prahm said with a good-natured laugh as she nodded toward her young son who recently played at the Gregory Park playground in Brainerd. “We can’t get anywhere on time — or clean.”

Prahm starts her new position at Essentia Health Oct. 1. She joins Dr. Hal Leland and Dr. Pamela Rice in the obstetrics/gynecology department at Essentia Health’s Baxter Specialty Clinic. The practice also includes Ob/Gyn nurse practitioners Sue Hadland, Lori Gutierrez and Jordan Benson, as well as four visiting specialists, Dr. Randle Corfman; Dr. Mary O’Day; Laura Witrak, MS, CGC; and Kayla York, MS, CGC.

Essentia Health’s goal in the near future is to have an Ob/Gyn practice with five full-time Ob/Gyn physicians on staff.

Prahm, 35, grew up in West Fargo, N.D., graduating from West Fargo High School in 1995. She attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, studying natural science. She also attended medical school at UND and then performed her residency in the Ob/Gyn department at the University of Minnesota Hospital.

Before moving to Brainerd this summer, Prahm had worked in a private Ob/Gyn practice in Edina’s Southdale area since 2006. She and her husband married in 2008. They both felt they wanted to raise their children outside the Twin Cities and started looking at communities. They narrowed their search to Alexandria and Brainerd. Coincidentally, she and Dr. Jared Rustad, neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at the Brainerd Specialty Clinic, went to medical school together.

Prahm said she didn’t want to move to a community where she was the only Ob/Gyn, since delivering babies at all hours of the day would be tough on her young family. She also wanted the support of other partners in her practice. She visited Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center and respected their model of patient- and family-centered care. The medical staff encourages patients and their families to become partners with their health care team.

She and her husband purchased land on Gilbert Lake in 2009 and built a cabin they have been living in. Her son is enrolled in a preschool program and her husband, who works in finance, is working remotely from Brainerd. She is excited about living in the Brainerd lakes area.

“It’s a style of living and a style of medicine that I think will feel like home to me,” Prahm said with a smile.

Prahm’s view is that women shouldn’t be alienated during their pregnancy. If they want to have an epidural or go through labor and delivery without any pain medications, it is up to them. She herself had epidurals with both her children and while laboring with Maggie, one side of her body wasn’t fully numb. This has happened to some of her patients before and now she had the unfortunate opportunity to experience that herself, she joked.

But Prahm said she has a role as their physician to guide them through the process and let them know if she believes they are making unsafe decisions for themselves or their unborn child.

Another aspect of Prahm’s practice is performing gynecological surgeries, including laproscopic hysterectomies. She performed many surgeries at her previous Twin Cities medical practice, which had clinics in Edina and Burnsville. She also worked out of Fairview Southdale Hospital and Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville.

“It was a great practice and I’m going to miss many of my patients, but this lifestyle here suits us much better,” Prahm said.

Prahm said she had relatively easy pregnancies with few complications. She said she loves babies, especially when at the end of the workday, everyone is healthy.

“Things can get scary during pregnancy, but if everyone is healthy, we can send them home,” Prahm said. “There’s a lot of sweetness in (delivering) a healthy newborn.”

In her spare time, which is limited these days, Prahm likes to go boating, running and walking. She also likes a “good dinner and a good glass of wine.”

Fall is one of her favorite times of the year.

“I’m a Fargo girl, I love the walks in the fall, the crisp leaves,” she said. “And winter, I love it’s an excuse to do nothing.”

■ JODIE TWEED, a former Brainerd Dispatch reporter is a freelance writer living in Pequot Lakes with her husband, Nels Norquist, and three daughters.