November 19, 2017

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Putting the Family in Family Medicine: Dr. Pietka’s Transition to Granite Falls

Cold winters and humid summers, the weather in Minnesota is something many of us dread; but for Dr. Magdalena Pietka it’s what makes her feel at home. Spending a majority of her life in Poland, Dr. Pietka and her husband moved to the United States 15 years ago after deciding they wanted to see the world. “I was born and raised in Poland, I trained in Poland, and I started my family in Poland,” Dr. Pietka explained. “But once we got to Minnesota we knew we had found our home.”

When first moving to the U.S., Dr. Pietka and her husband lived in Atlanta, Georgia where they both taught college courses. Focusing on anatomy and physiology, Dr. Pietka taught students preparing for careers in healthcare but she felt as though something was missing. “I knew I wanted to care for people,” Dr. Pietka recalled. “I remember noticing things in my students, thinking “they seem distracted or depressed,” and I just wanted to help them.”

It was then that Dr. Pietka completed her U.S. boards and began her Family Medicine practice at the Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Mankato, MN. After 10 years, Dr. Pietka decided to she was ready for a change and ACMC Health was just what she was looking for. “I wanted to find a system that was physician-owned and cared about their patients,” Dr. Pietka explained. “ACMC really takes care of people and their employees so I knew it was the right decision for me.”

When she began working at ACMC in 2015, Dr. Pietka accepted a position in Willmar’s Urgent Care department. As the mother of three, Dr. Pietka was looking for flexibility so she could still raise her family. “I was looking for a good balance,” she said. “ACMC is great because they allowed me to work part-time which was very important to me.”
Although the transition from Poland to Minnesota was easy, the healthcare system in the United States is vastly different. With Poland’s social healthcare system, patients experience long waits and little appointment availability. Dr. Pietka believes her experience in the social system makes her aware of the importance of affordable, effective healthcare. “I can treat patients affordably with very little testing because I am more hands-on,” Dr. Piekta explained. “I believe the exam is very important and I listen to what my patient is saying, allowing me to find the right solution.”

When the opportunity arrived for her to move back into Family Medicine with ACMC in Granite Falls, Dr. Pietka was thrilled. “I always wanted to be the small-town doctor. I want to do everything and get to know everyone,” Dr. Pietka explained. “I don’t just want to take care of the patient; I want to take care of their whole family. This is what I missed most during my time working in urgent care.”

From a young age, Dr. Pietka knew she wanted to be a doctor.  As the oldest of four sisters, she spent a great deal of time taking care of her siblings. At the age of seven, Dr. Pietka recalls her first adventures into treating others. “My sister had a cut and I had learned that vinegar kills bacteria,” Dr. Pietka described. “So I thought if I poured the vinegar from pickled mushrooms on her wound that it would kill the bacteria.” Fortunately, her sister didn’t let her follow through with the experiment, but Dr. Pietka remembers that moment, stating, “my passion for medicine has always been there.”

Her love of healthcare also lit a spark in her children, which is exciting for Dr. Pietka who came from a family of teachers. “My oldest son is a freshman at the University of Minnesota, studying premed and math,” she explained. “My 12-year-old daughter wants to be an orthodontist and my five-year-old wants to be a ninja, so I guess you never know!”

As a provider, Dr. Pietka strives to focus her practice on prevention rather than only treatment.  “I want to be able to give my patients guidance,” she said. “I like to help people grow, educating my patients is important so they can be independent. We are partners and I have seen how well it works if you can get a patient in charge of their health.”

As she settles into her new practice, Dr. Pietka is very pleased with the experiences she has had in Granite Falls thus far. “My practice is filling very quickly,” Dr. Piekta described. “It’s a good feeling when patients are excited to see you.” Dr. Pietka said her transition has also been made easier by the fantastic staff in the ACMC-Granite Falls clinic. “It is the type of environment where everyone knows each other and we all do our part to serve our patients.”

With her new role as a Family Medicine physician, Dr. Pietka believes she has found the perfect fit for herself and her family. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I am at a 9,” Dr. Pietka explained. “I’m in the ideal profession, I have the family that I always wanted, and I have the perfect balance between the two. There really isn’t much else I can ask for.”