April 1, 2017

Captain Stephanie Smith | Canadian hero for people in need

“I always wanted to be a doctor,” says Captain Stephanie Smith, now in her second year of the MD program at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM).

“I always wanted to be a doctor,” says Captain Stephanie Smith, now in her second year of the MD program at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). “I watched a lot of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman as a kid. I loved the idea of helping people and being independent enough to work in a rural environment, providing a variety of skills in different clinical areas.” 

Medical school is Stephanie’s latest step in her life-long dedication to helping others. A native of Oromocto, New Brunswick, she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of New Brunswick 12 years ago. “I took nursing as I was passionate about helping people and knew that if I was ever accepted into medical school, the practical knowledge and skills gained would be invaluable,” she explains. While studying for her degree, Stephanie joined the Canadian Armed Forces. 

“I initially joined the military because I wanted to be a third-world nurse and travel,” says Stephanie. Since enlisting, she has served as a critical care nurse all over the world. “The unique experience, varied positions and continual leadership and education opportunities has kept me in longer than I initially expected. I feel very fortunate to have had so many amazing clinical experiences in Afghanistan, the Philippines and Haiti.” Stephanie has been the recipient of a number of awards recognizing her exemplary work, including the U.S. Military Medal of Achievement, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Major General Barr Award of Excellence. 

Throughout her years in the military, Stephanie has taken on a variety of challenges. She completed a Master’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Management, which has been integral to her role out in the field. “Over time, my position has transitioned to more of a leadership role rather than clinical, so I decided it was the right time for me to go back to school and return to clinical practice,” she says. “CSM really appealed to me because it is a three-year program and I liked the rural clerkship program.” 

Stephanie has taken full advantage of the opportunities at the CSM. She will finally fulfill her rural medicine ambitions by taking part in the UCLIC (University of Calgary Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship) program in her third year of medical school, working in a rural community for one year. She is also very active in professional organizations, including the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, the Alberta Medical Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. “I love how supportive the MD program staff are of my involvement in these leadership groups.” In her spare time, Stephanie is also an accomplished triathlete.  

In the future, Stephanie is excited to see where her medical degree will take her. “I am still in the military, so I will apply for a residency in family medicine and then continue serving. As an MD with a background in disaster and emergency management, I’m looking forward to exploring that area of medicine.”

Tidbits from Stephanie: 

What’s your favourite book? Eat, Pray, Love

What’s your favourite place to travel? Europe

Who do you most admire, living or dead? My Oma.

Where do you hope to see the CSM in 50 years? Free for all those that want to go!