Daughter of a cardiothoracic surgeon and a nurse, Dr. Karen Beckman thought early on that her career in medicine might lead to a specialty in psychiatry.
The Guilford native double-majored in Spanish and psychology at Tufts University, and went on to enter Tufts University School of Medicine. In her third year there, Beckman began to try different fields and “loved OBGYN,” she recalled Tuesday.
“I loved delivering babies, I loved working with young moms, and with babies, and I just thought the whole thing was fascinating. And then I did my pediatrics rotation and I loved the kids. I just thought they were so fun and with the job, you are working a lot of hours, it can be a grind when you are a resident because you are working 100 hours and getting no sleep—and I found that I didn’t mind it when I was working with kids. Because they were funny and fun. They just kind of made you laugh, made you smile and they were fun to be around, so I ended up really surprising myself and liking pediatrics when I was a third-year med student.”
Beckman would compete her residency at NYU Medical Center/Bellevue Hospital and, 20 years ago, launched a career in private practice in New Canaan and Stamford. In 2006, she founded Riverside Pediatrics in Greenwich, and last month, she opened the practice’s second office, in a new building on Vitti Street in New Canaan.
We talked to Beckman about her decision to open a New Canaan office, what it offers and how she’s found it in the early going (Q&A below).
Riverside Pediatrics has already joined the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, hired New Canaan High School and Boston College graduate Morgan Krolikowski as nurse manager at the Vitti Street office and is talking local preschools about presenting on health.
Asked about the practice’s opening, Laura Budd of the Chamber said, “We were happy to hear the new building at 23 Vitti St. has had Riverside Pediatrics open as one of its first tenants. Healthcare is a top concern among New Canaanites and to have an established practice here gives our residents more options. We look forward to working with the team at Riverside Pediatrics.”
That team has expanded from Beckman herself when she launched the business 13 years ago to include four physicians and a nurse practitioner on staff, and another three part-time physicians to staff the Greenwich office’s evening, holiday and weekend hours.
“Our goal is to get enough of a patient base here that we can actually have weekend hours here,” Beckman said.
One more note before we get to the Q&A: Beckman herself is not only the daughter of a surgeon and nurse, but her grandmother and grandfather were doctors, her great-grandfather was a doctor and her great-aunts were doctors.
“I always knew in the back of my mind that medicine was something I might want to do as a career, because it was at the dinner table, we talked about it all the time,” Beckman said. “It was just something I was very exposed to.”
Here’s our exchange.
New Canaanite: Why New Canaan—what made you want to expand here?
Dr. Karen Beckman: Considering the 30-minute drive from New Canaan to our Riverside office, we have a surprisingly large number of New Canaan patients in our practice. After observing this trend for many years and speaking with our New Canaan patients, we realized that there is a need in New Canaan for the type of care and service that Riverside Pediatrics provides. We are so happy to be able to offer a closer office to all of those loyal patients who have been traveling to our Riverside office every time their children need to see a pediatrician because they value the care that we provide.
I see you started practicing 20 years ago and that New Canaan was one of the towns you worked in. What do you recall of that period and how much of that experience contributed to your decision to open up a second office here?
I really enjoyed working in New Canaan during my first job as a practicing pediatrician from 2000-2005. I truly enjoyed the patients and families and the town is beautiful. I remembered that there was also a need for care in the areas surrounding New Canaan, such as Bedford, Ridgefield, and North Stamford which further increased the need for pediatricians in the New Canaan area. It also doesn’t hurt that there are great restaurants in New Canaan for lunch take out at the office.
How the reception in New Canaan been?
We just arrived in New Canaan a few weeks ago and therefore are just starting to meet many of the local business people and health care professionals. So far, we have found everyone very welcoming and helpful.
Your offices are located in one of the downtown’s prominent new buildings. How are you finding it?
We love it. We were able to design the office layout from the beginning with the architect and builders. Every last detail was done understanding what works well for our patients, families and staff. The office is absolutely beautiful. We have separate sick and well exam rooms and waiting rooms, an in-house pharmacy, beautiful in-office bathrooms. We have flat-screen TVs in the large airy waiting rooms as well as new books and toys. The huge windows provide a lot of natural light. Parking is very easy and convenient right behind the building. There is a speedy elevator that takes you right up to our office as soon as you walk in from the parking lot.
What should our readers know about Riverside Pediatrics?
Riverside Pediatrics’ goal is to provide superior pediatric care in the most convenient and family-friendly environment. We enjoy seeing newborns and children all the way through their college years. We have separate sick and well waiting areas and exam rooms so that children do not get exposed to germs when they come in for well visits. Our in-house pharmacy prevents the need for a trip to the pharmacy for medication after a visit. It also allows us to offer the first dose in the office which is handy when parents need help administering medication to young children. We draw blood in our office to prevent the need for parents to make a separate trip to a lab or hospital for blood work. We are highly skilled in blood drawing and therefore, it is much less traumatic for patients when we do it ourselves. Even our teenage patients prefer this. We offer skin prick allergy testing for both food and environmental allergies. We offer immunotherapy—under-the-tongue drops at home instead of painful allergy shots at an allergist office—or people with significant environmental allergies. Infants, children and even adults come from all over for ear piercing. Additionally we have technology to accurately screen vision in infants as young as six months of age. We always have a live friendly staff member answering the phone during business hours for patients’ convenience. In our New Canaan office, we offer all day long walk in sick visit appointments starting at 8 a.m. so that children can be seen before school or daycare or walk in for a quick strep test before soccer practice in the afternoon. Currently we are open 365 days a year in our Riverside location. New Canaan patients are welcome to visit our Riverside location if they would like to be seen in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In the future, when our New Canaan population patient population grows, we expect to offer weekend hours in our New Canaan office as well.
The Riverside Pediatrics office in New Canaan is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The Greenwich office is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays with “after hours” 5 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays.