Lemoyne Doctor Selected Family Physician of the Year
— Ellen Smith, MD, (Lemoyne) is the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians’ 2007 Family Physician of the Year. Dr. Smith, founding physician of Heritage Family Medicine in central Pennsylvania, was nominated by one of her patients and received the 18th annual award at PAFP’s recent annual meeting. “She personifies the role we play in our communities — the very role we are trumpeting to our state legislature as evidence that physician-led medical homes are the true answer to healthcare reform,” says PAFP President Jane Corson, MD, (Hershey).
Dr. Smith, like all family physicians, forges life-long relationships with patients and their families. She loves the variety, what she calls the “mystery of each patient presenting with a different unsolved problem” and the challenges of taking a patient from birth through life and often to death. “Every day I learn something new,” Dr. Smith said, “whether it be about a medication or a diagnostic test or a better way to explain a diet program. Or, sometimes it might be just sharing the joy that my patient is experiencing with the birth of a new grandchild.” In addition to a devotion to patients, she has spent countless hours teaching residents and medical students, doing her part to make sure communities have family doctors. She was director of the Harrisburg Family Medicine Residency Program when it closed several years ago for administrative reasons, not for lack of residents or patients. Dr. Smith attributes her dedication as teacher and mentor to her own experience where her role model Elizabeth Stifel, MD, (Allison Park) now on the faculty at Forbes Family Practice Residency in Monroeville, immersed her in the full life of a family doctor — as a mother getting kids to school to a physician taking care of patients to a professor teaching residents and students. “It’s wonderful to see a young student learn to examine a patient, write a history and orders,” Dr. Smith said, “and then several years later see them graduate as capable, confident physicians.” Dr. Smith earned her medical degree from Penn State University College of Medicine, graduated from Lancaster General Hospital Family Practice Residency and has been practicing and teaching in the mid-state her entire career. She becomes Pennsylvania’s nominee for the national award from the American Academy of Family Physicians, which like the state award honors an outstanding, community-minded family physician who provides compassionate, comprehensive care and serves as a role model for their communities, other healthcare professionals, family practice residents and medical students. Past PAFP award winners include Peter Soraruf, MD, (Kennett Square) in 2006, Diane Bonaccorsi, MD, (Reading) in 2005, William Rodgers, MD, (Norristown) in 2004, James Blore, MD, (Doylestown) in 2003, Edward G. Zurad, MD, (Tunkhannock) in 2002, and Marian Block, MD, (Pittsburgh) in 2001. The Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians was founded in 1948 and represents more than 4,700 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students.