New doc’s mom was labor, delivery nurse

BROOKINGS – Emily Abele joined the Brookings Health System’s medical staff on Sept. 1 as a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology. To date she’s been doing more GYN than OB.

“At this point, I like everything and I am doing both. More on the gynecology side,” she explained. “More acute things have come up via referrals from family medicine or calls from patients with new concerns and other providers don’t have slots to work them in.” 

OB-GYN Dr. Emily Abele of Avera Medical Group answers questions and reassures a patient prior to surgery at Brookings Health System. Gynecologic procedures, such as robotic-assisted hysterectomies and endometrial ablation, are a primary service Abele and her partner OB-GYN physicians offer in addition to delivering babies.

Smiling and laughing a bit she admits that she hasn’t delivered any babies here yet: “… because my on-call shifts have been very quiet. And my OB patients aren’t yet at a point when they’re going to deliver. They come in as new OBs.”

There is one baby she won’t be delivering – her own. She and her husband Mark Abele are expecting their first child in October.

Dr. Abele is no stranger to the OB-GYN specialty. She was born and raised in Sioux Falls, where she graduated from Lincoln High School in 2006. Her mother was a labor and delivery nurse.

“I grew up kind of in the culture of OB-GYN,” the doctor explained. She did her undergraduate work at Augustana University (Sioux Falls), initially considering a career not unlike her mother’s. 

“I majored in biology,” Abele explained. “I originally started out in nursing and changed my mind. I wanted to be more on the physician side and teaching students and teaching my patients.” 

She graduated from Augustana in 2010 but delayed medical school.

Africa before South Dakota

Abele took a year off between college and medical school and worked in The Gambia, the smallest country on the African continent, as a medical missionary for Worldwide Evangelicals of Christ.

Working in a clinic there, she “did a lot of vitals, did some organization of their data base for their HIV clinic, did a lot of helping out in the pharmacy.” 

HIV proved to be a daunting challenge.

“In the prior three years they had been screening every single pregnant woman,” the doctor explained. “And they were finding a lot of people who didn’t know that they had HIV.

“Once they find one person, then they screen the whole family, including their husband. And they have multiple wives; so then we obviously have to screen all of the other wives and all of the children of all of those individuals.

“You get a lot more cases very quickly once you find one. It definitely is a big problem there; but I think we were just starting to get into really understanding the scope of how very prevalent it was in that area.”

From 2011 through 2015, Abele attended the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine (Vermillion), doing her two years of clinical training in Yankton. Following her time in Yankton, she did a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

The doctor is board eligible in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology; she has passed her “written boards” but has to practice her specialty for a year or two before being eligible for board certification.

‘On the smaller side’

“My husband and I wanted to be closer to family,” Abele cited as one of the reasons she decided to hang out her shingle in Brookings. “My parents are in Sioux Falls. We were also looking for a smaller community.

“Being in Omaha, we got a little bit overwhelmed with all of the traffic. It’s more of a stressful life in a big city. My husband grew up in a small town in western Nebraska. So both of us definitely wanted a little bit on the smaller side.

“Brookings came up on our radar as an area that was looking for an OB-GYN (specialist). Everything seemed to fall into place for the size of the group.”

Additionally, she appreciated that she could receive guidance in some areas where she might not yet be ready to “to be on her own.”

As the doctor works on building up her practice, she’s available to see patients for: menstrual conditions, including heavy bleeding; uterine fibroids; endometriosis; ovarian cysts; pelvic pain; menopause; pregnancy and infertility.

The doctor has a special interest in gynecological prolapse and incontinence, “being able to treat those issues on both the surgical side and with medication.”

Abele has trained on the DaVinci Robot for use in hysterectomies. That can be “more detail-oriented and provide a little more precision.”

Her patients range from teens through women in their older years, looking at: birth control, general healthy living, preparing for childbearing, care during pregnancy, birth and afterward (post-partum) and a good quality of life.

In their off-time, the Abeles enjoy board games; travel, specifically to national parks and overseas; and spending time with family.

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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