CHOC wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Katherine Williamson, a CHOC pediatrician.
What is your education and training?
I studied international relations at Pomona College, then went on to the University of California, San Francisco to study medicine. I completed my pediatric residency training at CHOC.
What are your administrative appointments?
I am the chair for pediatrics at Mission Hospital where my practice rounds on newborn babies. I am a partner within my practice at Southern Orange County Pediatric Associates (SOCPA), which is part of the CHOC Primary Care Network. Within this network, I am the SOCPA lead for the IT team where we are beta testing a new electronic health record system to be used at CHOC and in the CHOC Primary Care Network.
What advocacy work are you involved in?
I am the vice president for the Orange County chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP-OC) where we focus on child advocacy and serve as an academic and resource base for pediatricians and pediatric sub-specialists. Through our legislative advocacy efforts in the last few years, we have helped to pass SB 277 to keep kids vaccinated in California, and raise the smoking age for cigarettes and vaping from 18 to 21 years of age. On a community level, we have created a mental health committee bringing together pediatricians and mental health providers working to address the mental health needs of our Orange County youth. And we have newly created the School Health Committee where we are working to increase communication and collaboration between pediatricians and schools, with goals that include the creation of an electronic HIPAA-protected communication system between teachers and pediatricians, and to better understand how to address the unmet needs of children with learning disabilities.
What are your special clinical interests?
Child nutrition and exercise, and healthy body image
How long have you been on staff at CHOC?
A: I did my pediatric residency at CHOC from 2008 to 2011, then stayed on staff as a transport physician which is still currently one of my roles. I joined my pediatric practice, Southern Orange County Pediatric Associates (SOCPA) in 2012, which has partnered with CHOC in the past year to form the CHOC Primary Care Network, thus keeping me in the CHOC family on many levels.
What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
Southern Orange County Pediatric Associates (SOCPA), along with two other pediatric private practice groups in Orange County – Seaview Pediatrics and Pediatric & Adult Medicine – have partnered in the last year with CHOC to form the CHOC Primary Care Network. I am very excited to be a part of this partnership because through our collaboration we can share the best evidence-based medicine practices and increase communication between CHOC inpatient services, sub-specialists, and children’s primary care practices, thus improving patient care. In the near future we will have a shared electronic health record system that unlike so many EHRs in the country will be geared toward pediatrics because we are designing it ourselves.
What are your most common diagnoses?
Pharyngitis, bronchospasm, fever, otitis media, common cold, pneumonia, acne, jaundice
What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you or your division at CHOC?
Kids come first! And all kids needs a medical home.
What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
I have been a part of the CHOC family for many years, from residency through now, and I am inspired by CHOC’s multi-disciplinary team approach to take care of our kids. I have seen CHOC grow with the new tower, expansion of the specialty departments, and most recently CHOC’s extension to the community with the CHOC Primary Care Network to reach out to kids in their medical home. It’s all about the kids!
Why did you decide to become a doctor?
I believe every person has a right to quality health care, and I have been fascinated by the human body since I was a kid. Like I tell my patients, it’s the coolest machine you will ever own. I love being a part of keeping kids healthy, and I love teaching parents and kids about their own bodies so that they can take ownership in their health and well-being too.
If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
One of two things, or maybe both – a journalist, and/or a Broadway performer. I loved to sing and act on stage much of my childhood, and I believe telling a story, whether fictional or non-fictional, is the best way to relate and reach out to others.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
Anything outdoors – running, swimming, biking, and scuba diving. And traveling abroad whenever I can.
What have you learned from your patients, or what is the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?
I learn every day from my patients to find joy in the little things in life – from seeing how your finger lights up red when you touch the otoscope light to the wonders that bribery with stickers can do. I am laughing every day!
We are excited to offer the Pfizer BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens. To receive a vaccine, contact your CHOC primary care pediatrician to make an appointment.