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Elmore native returns to area as doctor

By Staff | Aug 31, 2009

The newest doctor on staff at the Fairmont Medical Center didn’t need a lot of time to become familiar with the area.

That’s because Dr. Tawnya Kreilkamp grew up on a farm five miles east of Elmore, and is a graduate of Blue Earth Area High School.

Dr. Kreikamp’s maiden name is Ristau. Her brother, Andy, still operates the family farm at Elmore. Her parents, Rich and Barb Ristau, moved to Blue Earth, but her father is still active in farming.

Kreilkamp’s journey to become a doctor, and then return to this area, has taken her across the country, and to several foreign countries.

After attending school in Elmore until ninth grade, she finished her high school education at BEA.

From there she went off to college at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, graduating in 1998.

“I worked for a few years in a lab in Madison, Wis., for Covance Pharmaceuticals,” she says.

After that, she and her husband, Todd, moved to the Twin Cities area so he could attend culinary school and become a chef. Kreilkamp worked for another pharmaceutical company there.

“I knew since high school that I wanted to do something in the medical field,” she says. “Later I decided I wanted to become a doctor.”

So she went to medical school, at the American University of the Caribbean, on the island of St. Maartens.

“My cousin had gone to school there and highly recommended it,” she says. “It wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds, it was a lot of study and work.”

Her third year of medical school was completed in England. For her fourth year, she studied at various medical centers around the United States, including stints in Los Angeles and Chicago.

“My husband loved it,” she says of the travel. “He was able to work with a variety of world-class chefs wherever we went.”

Finishing up her residency in Janesville, Wis., and now with a 4-year-old son, Logan, Kreilkamp and her husband decided they wanted to live in a smaller community in Wisconsin or Minnesota.

“This position in Fairmont was available, and I came here a year ago as part of my residency, to see if they liked me and I liked them,” she explains.

It was a good fit, and Dr. Kreilkamp started work in Fairmont on Aug. 1.

She specializes in family practice, and in obstetrics.

“I have already delivered three babies here,” she says with a smile. “OB is my favorite part of being a doctor. It is so rewarding.”

As a teen-ager in Elmore, she first thought about a career as a physical therapist.

“But I decided being a doctor was more up my alley,” she says. “I like having a lead role in helping people. I also wanted to study more in-depth about how the human body works.”

When not at work, Kreilkamp enjoys spending time with her son and family.

She and husband Todd also enjoy watching baseball. Since her husband is from Wisconsin, she says he is a big Brewers fan.

They also enjoy bike riding, boating and fishing.

“My husband took me ice fishing for the first time last winter,” she says. “That was fun, too.”

After leaving the family farm near Elmore, Kreilkamp didn’t think she would be back in the area for a long time — if ever.

“After our son was born, though, we started planning to return to this area,” she says. “It is great to be near our family and friends. We both love it here.”