What you may not know is that Dr. Smith’s own personal journey was a powerful force in becoming a doctor. Battles with cancer and the loss of loved ones shaped his passion for helping patients truly heal so they can live a healthy and abundant life.
“My experience with doctors and hospitals began at an early age when my maternal grandfather was hospitalized for heart disease. It wasn’t too much later that he suffered a heart attack and I lost him. This was when my first thoughts of becoming a doctor occurred.
Later, at the age of eight, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), which returned at the age of 12. Growing up dealing with childhood cancer and spending many long hours and days in medical offices and hospitals, I knew someday I wanted to become a doctor.
My pediatric oncologist, with whom I developed a very close relationship during the 12 years I knew him, further reinforced my interest in medicine and becoming a doctor. At the age of 16, my Leukemia went into remission, and two years later, I started college at a large university as a pre-med student. However, during my senior year, my path veered, and I graduated with a business degree. I entered the business world and, over the next 15+ years, climbed my way up the corporate ladder, holding several middle-management and executive positions. However, I was never truly happy. I felt I was not doing what I was meant to do.
In my late twenties, early morning on New Year ’s Day, I received a devastating phone call from my father that my mother had died from a heart attack. In my mid-thirties, I had another setback in my personal health; I had a stroke, and if that wasn’t enough, my work-up also revealed that cancer had reared its ugly head again, this time thyroid cancer. According to my adult Oncologist, this resulted from the radiation treatments I received as a child for the Leukemia. At this point, I knew that life was too short and that I was on the wrong path. The passion for medicine was still alive inside me. I felt strongly I wanted to practice medicine and help people become healthy or better yet, prevent them from becoming ill in the first place. We had a family meeting and decided it was time to make a change.
I resigned from my executive management position, and my wife, kids and I packed up our life in Illinois to start our new journey in Arizona. Shortly after arriving, I began medical school, where I would study the standard medical curriculum along with studies in natural medicine (CAM – complementary and alternative medicine). In addition to my studies, I served as a teaching assistant (TA) for many faculty members (MDs and PhDs). I was actively involved in volunteering, medical missions, and student mentoring programs.
Four years later, I graduated first in my class, receiving the Highest Academic Achievement award, while also being honored with the prestigious Outstanding Student Leadership Award in recognition of my commitment to academic excellence, the school, the community, and the advancement of the profession.
I could never have done this without the love and support of my wife and our children, Bri and Derek. I believe my path has come full circle, and I am now doing what I love and was meant to do.”