A Genetics Career Grows
Residency alum Katie Williams, MD, PhD, returns as a fellow
For Genetics fellow and Department of Pediatrics residency alumna Katie Williams, MD, PhD, a community health event during her last year of residency was the spark that launched her career.
That event, held October 10, 2012, at the Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center in Norwalk, Wisconsin—near one of Wisconsin’s more concentrated Amish settlements—featured an inspiring presentation from Holmes Morton, MD, who was there as part of a Department of Pediatrics visiting professorship.
Dr. Morton is a world-renowned pediatric genetic specialist and founder of the Strasburg, Pennsylvania-based Clinic for Special Children, which integrates genomic research and practical medical treatment for children with rare genetic disorders.
Dr. Williams was considering entering a genetics and/or endocrinology fellowship after residency, but then she heard Dr. Morton mention that his clinic was looking for a new physician. “The work seemed to have many of the components I was looking for,” she remembers. “It combined basic science and rural healthcare in a truly unique medical model.”
So in October 2013, after residency graduation, Dr. Williams and her family relocated to Pennsylvania.
At the Clinic for Special Children, Dr. Williams was among pediatricians, nurses, researchers and patient advocates who provide comprehensive care in a medical-home model. She recalls the challenges and rewards of caring for children with significant medical needs, in a way that was mindful of cultural preferences as well as costs.
“I had the opportunity to work with the Plain community in a very personal way. In many cases, I got to know the child and family well. At times, I watched that child thrive. Other times, the child passed on and we were there to support the family,” she reflects. “The relationships with the children and families were very important to me. I was so grateful to be part of their lives.”
Her work outside the clinic included a modified pulse oximetry screening protocol for babies delivered by midwives outside the hospital; workshops to train midwives on the protocol and other medical issues in the first weeks of life; and several research projects.
After more than four years at the clinic, she still loved her work, but wanted to broaden her skills and experience with genetic disorders.
Excited by the Department of Pediatrics’ continued commitment to the Wisconsin Plain Community Project, she sought out our clinical medical genetics fellowship.
In June, she returned to Wisconsin with her family, which had since grown to include three children, and in July, began her fellowship, again working alongside many of the faculty she trained with during residency.
“It’s great to be practicing in Wisconsin where there is a robust initiative to serve the Plain community,” she says. “I would love to take these two years to strengthen my clinical skills, and then find a way to reach children from the Plain community who don’t already have access to care.”