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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine, MinneapolisVIEW PROFILE
Elena (Ellie) Jelsing, M.D. (MED ’08, PMR ’12, SPMED ’13), is a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) and sports medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine in downtown Minneapolis — a state-of-the-art facility providing comprehensive world- class sports medicine care at Mayo Clinic Square. Mayo is the exclusive medical provider for the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA Minnesota Lynx, and Dr. Jelsing serves as the orthopedic team physician for the Lynx. Both teams have practice facilities and corporate offices in Mayo Clinic Square. Dr. Jelsing is also the head team physician for the USA Women’s Ski Jumping team.
“It was eye-opening to see how well we managed during the pandemic when clinics were closed. We quickly accommodated to telemedicine and virtual learning — initiatives we’ll rely on more in the future. We also collaborated on a national scale for collective educational resources for our learners, which we come in handy in the future. Our use of technology has been transformative and will continue long after the pandemic.”
Minnesota is home, and so was Mayo. I grew up in St. Cloud and went to high school in Mora, Minnesota, where my immediate family remains. I graduated from Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and did my PM&R residency and sports medicine fellowship at Mayo. I practiced for two years at the University of Washington (Seattle) in the Sports and Spine Division of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.
I returned to Mayo Clinic to practice in 2015 and am an assistant professor of PM&R and orthopedic surgery and program director for the Mayo Clinic PM&R Sports Medicine Fellowship in Minneapolis.
I was excited to return — even more so because Mayo now has a presence in Minneapolis. That was a big draw — I could be in the Twin Cities and still work for Mayo Clinic. I started about a year after the downtown Minneapolis clinic opened.
It was good to practice in a different system — the University of Washington — to get perspective and see how things work at another facility. I missed the very collaborative nature at Mayo. You can get a specialty consult so easily — just pick up the phone and call a colleague in another department.
We see patients and athletes of all kinds, across a broad spectrum — from people that work downtown who hurt a knee playing pickleball to high school, college, professional, and Olympic-level athletes. Our goal is to keep anyone who is active, active. In addition to the Timberwolves and Lynx, we’re team physicians for North Central University in Minneapolis.
Professional athletes are exciting because of the publicity that surrounds their sport. You could have an impact on helping a well-known athlete get back on the court. But I equally love high school and collegiate athletes. They also want to do anything possible to get back to play, and their passion is just as strong as the pros.
I took over this volunteer role in the last year and traveled with the team to Slovenia early in 2020.
I provide annual physical exams for team members. If an athlete suffers an injury or develops an illness, no matter where they are in the world, the coaching staff or event physician will contact me to assist. I also arrange for physician coverage for the World Cup competition circuit, including physicians I’ve networked with through the sports medicine community.
It’s fun to learn about a new sport. Previously I was the head team physician for the USA Curling teams. I love working with this unique population. I went into sports medicine because I love working with competitive athletes.
I’ve always been an athlete. In high school I played soccer, softball, volleyball and basketball. In college I played soccer and softball. As a relatively out-of-shape adult, I still enjoyed soccer, basketball, volleyball and softball rec leagues to scratch that competitive itch.
Before we reopened the practice, I was very busy working on things we typically didn’t have as much time for before the pandemic — discussing ways to improve the practice, maximizing marketing strategies, developing our educational curriculum for residents and fellows, creating new subspecialty clinics, expanding telehealth capabilities and implementing research ideas.
While Mayo Clinic Square was closed due to state orders, I did telehealth visits from home. I followed up with patients to make sure their management strategies were effective. I also consulted with new patients to educate them about treatment options such as regenerative medicine procedures. Patients are ready and eager for telehealth options.
While I practiced from the basement, our nanny was upstairs with the kids and my husband bounced around the rest of the house taking calls in whatever other available space existed. I really enjoyed the opportunity to check in on the kids intermittently during the day and to hear their giggles in the background.
I also continued to oversee our sports medicine fellow. I met with him multiple times per week via Zoom to discuss telehealth cases, answer clinical questions, review ultrasound scans, and discuss relevant journal articles to make sure that high-quality and relevant learning continued despite the pandemic.
It was eye-opening to see how well we managed during the pandemic when clinics were closed. We quickly accommodated to telemedicine and virtual learning — initiatives we’ll rely on more in the future. We also collaborated on a national scale for collective educational resources for our learners, which we come in handy in the future. Our use of technology has been transformative and will continue long after the pandemic.
My husband, Shane, and I have four kids — Caden (11), Stella (9), Nash (3) and Haddie (1). When not working or changing diapers, we try to spend as much time on or around water as possible. We spend a lot of time walking around Lake Harriett, which is near our house; but we also utilize my parents’ lake home anytime they will have us!
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