When Tracy Prosen, MD, made the “Best Doctors in America” list two years ago, her peers and patients at the University of Minnesota Health Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center were pleased—but not at all surprised.
Prosen, a maternal-fetal medicine physician, is a nationally recognized expert in the field of clinical genetics. That expertise and compassion, along with that of her peers, help explain why thousands of Minnesota women consider University of Minnesota Health their medical provider of choice, especially when facing difficult pregnancies or complicated genetic disorders.
Describe your role within University of Minnesota Health. What interests, skills and experience do you bring to the organization?
I am a maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialist and a clinical geneticist. I am also the director of the University of Minnesota Health Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center—a collaborative, multidisciplinary group that focuses on the care of families with pregnancies complicated by fetal abnormalities (birth defects, genetic conditions, etc.). We provide consultation and prenatal care for these families. Our goal is to seamlessly guide families through diagnosis, planning, in-utero treatment when needed, delivery and post-birth care of their child. My training in both MFM and genetics uniquely qualifies me to diagnose and treat these conditions before the birth of the baby and to assist in the postnatal planning.
Why are you passionate about your position?
I treat women with complicated pregnancies all the time, and people often ask me whether it is difficult.
The answer to that question is complex. Yes, it can be difficult, but it is also unbelievably rewarding. I have the unique opportunity to work with families at what can be one of the most fragile and vulnerable times in their lives—when they are challenged by an abnormal pregnancy or the death of their baby. My work is trying at times, but these people are so grateful for the compassionate care that we offer.
Why were you drawn to reproductive genetics and prenatal genetic diagnosis?
Embryology and genetics fascinated me from the time I was in college. Human development is amazing and complicated to the point that I often wonder how any of us turned out "normal.” Sorting out birth defects is like trying to solve a puzzle; we have to take into consideration family genetics, external factors and sometimes pure chance. But again, the real reward is the amazing families who allow me the privilege of being part of their pregnancy journey—no matter the outcome.
Describe one of your favorite memories from your work as a physician.
There are many! I delivered a healthy baby to a couple that had lost four prior children to a rare genetic condition. I also delivered a baby whose life we saved with in-utero treatment by using a thoraco-amniotic shunt—a drainage tube placed into the baby's chest while the child was still in the womb.
What do you love about the University of Minnesota Health community?
This place has the most amazing physicians, nurses and countless other providers who selflessly care for our patients. These people are not "just collecting a paycheck.” They genuinely care about their patients and families. They put in hours beyond what is asked of them. They do research to further our knowledge so that we can provide even better care to the next patients we see. They train the next generation of providers, teaching technical skills, critical thinking and compassionate care by direct example.