Faculty Feature - Dr. Brigitte Smith
Jul 8, 2019 12:00 AM
We sat down with University of Utah Health vascular surgeon, Dr. Brigitte Smith, to find out why she picked her specialty, what advice she has for future med students and why she spent a summer in a submarine.
Q: What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
Dr. Smith: Surgery is a big decision for most patients. The most fulfilling aspect of my job is spending time with my patients and helping them figure out the best option for them. Giving them a voice in the process is so important.
Q: Why did you pick your particular specialty in surgery?
Dr. Smith: I’m a vascular surgeon which means I get to operate all over the body with really cool technology. Most surgeries are trending towards minimally invasive approaches. However, with vascular surgery you get to do a lot of major open surgical operations. There’s always new technology coming out for these types of surgeries too. I really like working with my patient population as well. They’re charming and feisty and because many of them have chronic problems, I get to build relationships with them over long periods of time.
Q: What advice do you have for medical students who are interested in surgery?
Dr. Smith: Get as much exposure as possible to the operating room and the intensity of it. Being a surgeon is long hours but very rewarding hours. Start shadowing early in your first and second year of medical school. Be bold in contacting faculty and ask to see cases with them. Find mentors and take time to be present for the long hours and long surgeries to know if it’s something you really want to commit to.
Q: What does it mean to you to be an educator for the next generation of surgeons?
Dr. Smith: It means more than just being an educator, I get to be a mentor, sponsor and coach. I love helping people figure out how to navigate the complexities of medical and surgical education successfully. The most rewarding part is being able to help students, residents and other junior faculty achieve what they want in becoming a successful surgeon.
Q: What is something fun that the residents don’t know about you?
Dr. Smith: My first two jobs that I ever had were as a janitor at an elementary school for the summer and after that I gave tours on a WWII submarine called the USS Cobia at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and still have most of my speech memorized!