As the newest provider at Altitude Pediatrics, Dr. Kate Sawicki is the embodiment of compassion and encouragement. Her genuine desire to build trust through long-term relationships with her pediatric patients and their families shines through. She often tells parents, “I’m an expert in the pediatric department; you’re an expert in your child. Together, we’ve got this.”
Growing up in Carmel, Indiana, Kate adored her pediatrician, staying with the same doctor from birth through young adulthood. Going to the pediatrician was always a fun experience. “I loved the idea of doctoring and playing with medicine and the stethoscope. My mom was a nurse, so I grew up with exciting medical stories all around me.” A medical career seemed like a natural fit to her.
Kate attended Bethel University in Mishawaka, Indiana. School was hard but being on the track team provided a stress-relieving outlet, and somewhere between practice and traveling to meets, Kate met and fell in love with a fellow pole vaulter named Tyler. The couple married and Tyler supported Kate through four years of osteopathic medical school at Marian University in Indianapolis.
Kate loved residency rotations, wavering between pediatrics and OB/GYN. “I loved labor and delivery and seeing a life enter the world,” she recalls. “Every time a baby was born, I’d get emotional.” At the end of the day, however, Kate chose pediatrics because “kids are so resilient, so confident. It’s just such a happy field.” Both Kate and Tyler love rock-climbing and had taken many trips out west to enjoy the sport, so they were thrilled when Kate was matched for residency in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the University of New Mexico (UNM).
“I was very blessed with my training program,” Kate says. “The leadership was strong and prioritized our mental health and wellness which fostered solid learning. No questions were too simple. We were given freedom to practice what we were learning but with a safety net that allowed us to make mistakes and debrief afterward. It was okay and necessary to fail. If you have the mindset that you must be perfect, you’re not going to learn as well. I feel like my training gave me a solid foundation that will continue to carry me into my practice.”
After residency, the Sawickis stayed in Albuquerque for several years while Kate launched her career in a small, private pediatric practice. While living there, the couple’s now two-year-old son Henry was born. “Going through those first months with a newborn gave me a lot of respect for the new moms coming into my practice,” Kate relates. Becoming a mom only sharpened her caregiving proficiency as she learned firsthand tips and tricks for swaddling, buckling car seats and administering medication. “There’s so much you don’t learn in medical school such as parenting, newborn sleep tactics, and emotional sanity when you’re going through hard nights of having a newborn. It helps to be able to say, ‘I’ve been there, too.’ It’s changed my practice for the better in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”
Feeling the pull to be near extended family, the Sawickis decided to move to Colorado where Kate’s only sibling lives and they’re hopeful Kate’s parents will follow suit in their retirement. “We’ve always said that whenever we move, we want it to be a forever move,” Kate explains. “As much as we can plan, we want to stay and raise our kids here. For me professionally, I want to know my patients from birth to 21. I would like those relationships to be built so strongly that when kids in my practice become teenagers they feel safe enough to bring up hard things and be open to asking questions.”
Altitude Pediatric feels like a good fit for Dr. Sawicki. She appreciates the small, personal feel of the clinic and sees opportunity for creativity and flexibility in meeting her patients’ needs, such as the clinic’s plan of offering extended office hours this winter. Dr. Sawicki is excited about Altitude’s own on-site behavioral and mental health provider, Richelle Hicks, who works part-time hours at Altitude to provide accessible care to patients who need extra support in that area.
Dr. Sawicki is currently helping her partners by alleviating their high patient load, as well as seeing new patients of her own. When on call, the Altitude pediatricians still round on newborns and children in the hospital. “We’re one of the few practices that is still able to do newborn rounds for patients,” says Sawicki. “I love to get to meet the babies in the hospital, and then see them back in the office for continued care.”
In this current season, Dr. Sawicki has put her rock climbing hobby on hold to put her family and patients first, but she and Tyler currently enjoy hiking, camping, and hosting friends in their home. “We love getting to know people on a deeper level,” says Kate, who looks forward to putting down roots in the Grand Valley and getting relationally tied into the community.
Kate Sawicki, DO is currently accepting new patients. To establish a relationship with Altitude Pediatrics newest provider call (970) 609-7337 or visit their website: https://altitudepediatrics.com/