At a young age, Dr. Erin Beckerman gained an appreciation for making connections with those that are, let’s say, less fortunate than her. While the term “fortunate” is relative to those who are using it, for Erin, it happened to come in the form of her cousin who has lived with a “significant” disability her entire life. Erin babysat Jennifer often, and through those days taking care of her, she quickly realized not to take the simple things in life for granted. Things like the ability to feed yourself, the ability to go to the bathroom, the ability to walk from your bed to the kitchen… all activities that her cousin cannot do. Realizing this at a very young age is very profound and most certainly gives one a unique perspective that many people might never achieve. Fast forward 30+ years and Dr. Beckerman is now living that frame of mind. The 45-year-old doctor and her husband, Jay, give back to the community in a variety of ways. Not surprisingly she works mostly with adolescents and women in her family medical practice, and most recently volunteers her time as one of the newest members of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) Board of Directors. Dr. Erin Beckerman truly is one of the people who makes BOEC so special!

Dr. Erin Beckerman as a child holding a Teddy Bear

Dr. Erin Beckerman holds a Teddy bear as a child. She is one of the most recently appointed BOEC Board Members.

Dr. Erin Beckerman goes down the slide with her daughter

Going down the slide with her daughter Brooklynn, now eight years old.

Born into a family of blue collar workers in the late 1970s – her dad an Aurora, CO firefighter and mom a graphic design print shop co-owner – Erin Beckerman learned to appreciate the value of a hard day’s work. Whether it be her babysitting experiences – and the difficult life that her aunt and uncle had raising Jennifer with special needs – watching her parents’ financial struggles, or just plain grit, Erin became the first person in her family to graduate from college. A collegiate softball scholarship to The University of Missouri – Kansas City lit the ignition, but after a few years on the ball field, the Aurora-native felt Colorado calling her back home as she returned to finish out her studies at Colorado State University, graduating with a degree in Biology. It was never really a thought that she wasn’t going to go to college.

“My family knew the struggles and limitations of not having a formal degree,” she remembers. “So education was a really big push in my family.”

With her degree in hand, and smiles all around, the Front Ranger had accomplished what she set out to do and it was time for a much-needed break. She decided to do something else that she had always wanted to do… spend more time in the mountains. So, in 1999, the 22-year-old made the move to Vail, learned how to snowboard, worked part-time at Vail Hospital while volunteering at Vail Ski Resort as a snowboarding coach with the Special Olympics, and took some time to just be a kid. While her two years in Vail were just what she needed, her parents’ focus on the importance of education came a calling once again as Erin left the Centennial State once more, this time to enroll in medical school at A.T. Still University of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri. After completing her residency at Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver, Dr. Beckerman was now, not only the first in her family to graduate from college, but a fully certified Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.).

“My parents say from a young age, ya know, when you ask your children what they want to be when they grow up, I have always said I wanted to be a doctor,” reminisces Beckerman. “I don’t have any family members, extended family members, friends of family that were physicians, so it was just one of those things. I said I wanted to do it and continued to want to do it through high school, but I really didn’t have any true exposure to medicine until undergrad when I volunteered at a nursing home and some other short-lived volunteer opportunities. It was more of an idealistic ‘this is what I want to be,’ and then realizing that my education was going to give me an opportunity to do that.”

Erin with her daughters Brooklynn and Jocelynn

Erin with her two daughters, Brooklynn (right) and Jocelynn (left). The three enjoy the fall colors of Breckenridge.

She's all smiles on an outdoor adventure.

She's all smiles on an outdoor adventure. At 22 years old, Erin moved to Vail to learn how to snowboard.

The good doctor felt the mountains calling once again, applied for positions in both Eagle and Summit Counties, landed a job in Breckenridge an unheard of one week after applying, and six weeks later was living and practicing medicine in the mountains of Colorado. Some might say it was meant to be, and if you ask Erin, she’ll tell you it was her plan all along to incorporate her love for the outdoors and her passion for medicine.

In 2009, the newly minted D.O. truly began her mountain life, focusing on incorporating lifestyle and prevention in order to keep her patients healthy. D.O.’s are trained to look at the whole person from their first days of medical school, which means they see each person as more than just a collection of organ systems, body parts, and a culmination of diagnoses. Put simply, they’re not just numbers off a spreadsheet… It’s about how they live their lives.

“I feel like I always incorporate lifestyle, life choices, extenuating circumstances, stressors and all that into how I navigate patients’ health,” says Beckerman. “I won’t make a recommendation to patients that I’m not willing to incorporate into my own life. So, even jokingly, when I talk to patients about cutting back, ultimately I tell them that I know what a difficult statement I’m about to make and how difficult it would be in my world. So, I feel like I have to acknowledge when I make recommendations to patients how impactful those are on their life.”

Wearing personal protection device during COVID

Dr. Beckerman sports her PPE. As a medical professional, she was forced to navigate COVID on the front lines.

Medical staff having some fun

Erin and her medical staff are having a little fun. Dr. Beckerman became the first in her family to graduate from college.

There’s that connection thing again. It started as a kid when she had to figure out how to connect with her cousin Jennifer, and now Erin was putting those skills to practical use to help others as well. While she enjoys treating everyone, that “connection” aspect of her personality lured her into focusing more specifically on adolescent and women’s health. Women because she enjoys being able to talk openly about women’s problems in an honest environment, and adolescents because she feels like she can make a special connection with kids into teenagers.

“One of my spiels (to adolescents) always is it’s not my job to parent you, that’s your parents’ job,” she says. “My job is to be your doctor and to make sure you’re healthy and that you get accurate health information. That’s my spiel to my teenagers all the time because I feel like if there’s an honest, comfortable situation in a room where they don’t feel judged, where they don’t feel like what they have to say is going to be broadcast to others, they’ll open up to me. And I feel like then it makes for a healthier child.”

But one thing that caught Erin off guard initially was the unique aspect of practicing medicine in a small community like Summit County where her neighbors are her patients. Where, if she goes to the grocery store, post office, gas station, pretty much anywhere in “town,” she’s going to know the person standing next to her. And a lot of times those people are her patients. According to Beckerman, in a situation like this it becomes super important for her to have ownership of how she treats her patients the second she walks out the door.

“I can’t get lost in a big city where I see a patient and then I don’t see them for a year until their next annual wellness visit or whatever,” says Beckerman. “So, I own my decisions and I feel like I’m very accountable for the decisions of how I care for patients because they’re not just a number, they’re my neighbors, they’re my community members, they’re my friends, and they’re my acquaintances.”

“There was definitely a transition when I moved up here,” she continues. “It totally caught me off guard where I couldn’t go to the grocery store without medical questions being asked or just being recognized. But I quickly got over that and now I actually enjoy it. I like being able to see my patients in the community, and it’s nice, it’s part of small-town medicine. Even though the county is growing, those parts of being able to see your patients out in the community makes it feel like a continued small town.”

The Beckerman family goes horseback riding

Erin shares her a love and passion for the outdoors with her family.

The Beckerman family poses at Breckernidge Ski Resort

The Beckerman family enjoys some quality family time at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

All that aside, Dr. Beckerman’s life is not all work and no play. She acts as “support staff” for her husband’s two upscale restaurants, is raising two beautiful daughters, Brooklynn (8) and Jocelynn (6), and connects with her community outside of her “selfish world” by volunteering with the county’s nonprofits, most recently the BOEC.

While Erin’s first foray into the Summit County nonprofit community was two terms on the Board of Directors for the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) for eight years, she’s no stranger to giving back. As we previously mentioned, when she moved to Vail in her early 20s, Erin had participated in what she calls the “highlight of her weekends” volunteering as a snowboard coach with the Special Olympics.

“The light and joy these athletes had – the uninhibited joy of being out on the slopes – was inspiring” she continues. “I would say that I got more out of it than they got out of me. I feel like if you can give your time – and there’s a lot of different ways to give your time – it makes you feel more connected with your community.”

So, it just seemed natural that, as Erin’s career and family started to take shape, she would continue connecting and finding a way to give back. Eight years on the FIRC Board helping to sustain local families through education and financial resources, and it was time for a new opportunity. The pandemic derailed her plans for a year in what she refers to as a time where she “felt a little bit lost” by not connecting with her community, but memories of her times with the Special Olympics, in combination with her D.O. philosophy, must have risen to the forefront as the BOEC seemed like the most natural next step to bring her talents and passion.

“I wanted a place where I felt like my skill set could mean something that could make an impact,” Erin says about her reason for wanting to join the BOEC Board. “And I felt like the BOEC was a place where my skill set as a physician could serve a purpose. I am not a good fundraiser, I am not a good marketer, I don’t have those skills, but what I am good at is looking at the bigger picture, especially with medical stuff and I enjoy that kind of thing. I felt like that’s where I could make an impact. There’s a lot of amazing organizations in this community, but I wanted to make sure that my direct skill set could help the organization.”

The Beckerman family poses on the 4th of July

The Beckerman family enjoys some 4th of July festivities.

Erin and her daughter share a special moment while skiing

Erin and her daughter share a special moment while skiing. While she admits that she doesn’t bring a strong skill set of being a great skier or avid rafter to the BOEC Board, she brings with her a love for the outdoors.

Dr. Beckerman, the new BOEC Board Member, hit the ground running and her impact was felt immediately. Not only did she dive into – and help refine – BOEC’s ever-changing COVID protocols, she met with program directors to make sure everybody is doing things safely. This included going through and cleaning up epinephrine (epi) and anaphylaxis protocols and even commissioning her office manager to go out and help train all new staff on epi injections and how to recognize anaphylaxis and administer the injection.

“The (BOEC) staff is amazing and had already done all of the research and made a lot of those decisions,” says Beckerman. “But, to be able to be a safe sounding board for them I think is big. That’s where I feel like my skill set is best used. And then down the road in the future, I’m just a phone call away, especially for the Wilderness Program because they could be “out” away from civilization and need help. Being just a phone call away to help navigate things with questions or concerns is a big deal.”

Yes, Erin, the safety of BOEC’s participants is a huge deal and a major focus of every camp and retreat that is scheduled. Our 46-year-old nonprofit organization is well aware of the responsibility it has in maintaining the health and safety of its high-risk participants. With that being said, however, the full-body holistic approach of an osteopath is just as valuable in providing an all-around meaningful outdoor experience.

“From a medical perspective, giving people with disabilities and special needs these opportunities to experience the relief and calming effect of the outdoors is huge,” says Beckerman. “And the BOEC gives those opportunities and lets people experience the feelings that able-bodied people get to experience everyday. I see it with people that are my patients. Having any disabilities in your life is very alienating – or potentially alienating – and the joy that the outdoors, and the love of the outdoors that we have, can bring to us – if we can give that joy and freedom to somebody else, that’s huge.”

While Erin admits that she doesn’t bring a strong skill set of being a great skier or avid rafter to the Board, she brings with her a love and passion for the outdoors. And that’s truly what it’s all about, right?

“’I’m not great at any of those things but I love being outdoors and I love doing them,” she says. “You don’t have to be an expert to be able to love, appreciate and find joy in outdoor activities.”

The Beckerman family visits with Minnie Mouse

Every little girls' dream... a visit with Minnie Mouse!

Erin and Jay as Ullr Fest King and Queen

Erin and Jay were crowned Ullr Fest King and Queen in 2018. Each year, two local residents are chosen as the Ullr King and Queen for their contributions in the community.

So, now Erin is back at it, connecting with a new organization, a new population of participants, and a slew of new outdoor experiences to take part in. When she’s not busy raising her two daughters, the self-proclaimed introvert likes to read and spend time with her “first love,” her Peloton. With all that you’ve just read, however, you’re probably wondering how someone like this can be introverted. Well, according to Beckerman, she has a finely tuned on/off switch that has to be managed very carefully.

“Nothing else gets to exist once I walk in with a patient because it’s not about me, it’s about them,” says Erin. “But at the end of the day, I’m done. I’m exhausted and then I come home and I do it for my children. I enjoy my quiet time once the girls have gone to bed or if I can find an hour or two of quiet time to do my own thing.”

With all that “connecting” you’re doing, Erin, introvert or extrovert, anyone would be tired at the end of the day. The BOEC sure feels honored that you’re making that specific connection, however, and we look forward to a fruitful relationship moving forward.

“I feel super honored to be able to be a part of the BOEC,” she says. “It’s such a unique, cool organization that not only gives back to the community, but gives back to individuals and organizations outside of this community and throughout the U.S. The BOEC provides an experience that gives people this memory and this feeling that’s hard to replicate and I feel super lucky to be part of the organization.”