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New Ulm Medical Center

Ophthalmologist happy to be back in Minnesota

For Natalia Kramarevsky, MD, who joined the staff of New Ulm Medical Center Clinic in August and became its full-time ophthalmologist, family has had a big influence on her career choices. From the time she was a little girl visiting her father in the hospital, she was determined to become a doctor.

“My father had lung cancer and died when I was 12,” Kramarevsky recalled. “Going to see him in the hospital, I knew I wanted to go into medicine.”

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Natalia Kramarevsky, MD

Many years later, while an undergraduate at the University of Washington, Kramarevsky’s mother suddenly couldn’t see because she had cataracts. Once they were removed, her mother’s eyesight was restored. After that incident, Kramarevsky knew she would become an ophthalmologist.

Prior to joining New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC), Kramarevsky worked as an associate ophthalmologist at the Virginia Beach Eye Center in Virginia Beach. But she wanted to return to Minnesota, where she had done a residency and a fellowship, because of another family connection — she wanted to live closer to her sister and her family.

“These were all factors in my coming to New Ulm,” said Kramarevsky, 47, who is excited to be back in Minnesota and embarking on a job she loves.

A nurse first

Although Kramarevsky knew early on she wanted to help people as a doctor, her career as an ophthalmologist took a circuitous route. Born in the former Soviet Union and refusing to adopt the communist enforcement in the 1980s, she was not allowed to attend medical school so she went to nursing school instead. In the early 1990s, Kramarevsky moved with her husband, Nick, and their infant daughter to the Seattle area, where he had family already living there. The next year, she enrolled at the University of Washington where, despite being an older student and mother, she earned an undergraduate degree with honors in molecular biology.

She immediately went on to the University of Washington Medical School, graduating in 1999. By this time, she was not only a doctor but also the mother of two daughters, Christina and Oxana, who are 13 months apart. But that didn’t stop her from pursuing an internship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and then doing her residency in ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota.

First job in Minneapolis

In 2003, when Kramarevsky completed her residency, she took a job as an ophthalmologist at Hennepin County Associates and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. In 2008, she also completed a one-year fellowship in cornea, anterior segment, surface disease and refractive surgery.

While seeing patients, Kramarevsky also found time to teach other medical students as an instructor at the University of Minnesota. And, while in Virginia, she was an associate professor of ophthalmology at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

When Kramarevsky received the job offer from NUMC, she found she was anxious to return to Minnesota. It was an ideal opportunity. It was more than her chance to be near family. As Kramarevsky said, “I would be able to help a community that needed a full-time ophthalmologist.”

Kramarevsky believes she has the right mix of skills and experience. “I am experienced at both being by myself as an ophthalmologist and working in a big hospital and clinic,” she said. Also, she added, “I enjoy being able to take care of people’s needs. I love helping to save and preserve people’s vision.”

When Kramarevsky is not working, she enjoys spending time with family, cooking, playing piano and traveling. She also enjoys hosting dinner parties where she can serve her guests homemade dishes from her native Ukraine (borscht, perogies, cabbage salads) as well as Russian or Italian favorites. “I make good fish, but I’m not the best when it comes to Chinese food,” she said with a smile.

Dr. Kramarevsky (or “Dr. K” as many of her patients call her) is looking forward to moving to the New Ulm area with her husband and the youngest of their three daughters, 13-year-old Ivana, as soon as they find the right house.

To make an appointment with Dr. Kramarevsky, call 507-217-5011.