When Samantha Smith, MD, became a competitive rower in college, she also inadvertently chose her future career as a primary care sports medicine specialist.
“Because I had many injuries, I noticed the difference when I saw specialists who understood my sport and took it seriously so I could continue to be successful as an athlete,” says Dr. Smith, who is also board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. “That fueled my interest in orthopedics, and I really enjoy taking care of both adults and children.”
Dr. Smith offers nonsurgical treatment for musculoskeletal and other medical issues that occur not just in athletes, but all active people. The field of primary care sports medicine is not new, but it has been growing rapidly over the past decade, Dr. Smith notes. “With advances in ultrasound and other office-based imaging and procedures such as injections, primary care sports and nonoperative musculoskeletal providers work alongside orthopedic surgeons to provide complementary services to patients,” she says.
Pinpointing the source of a patient’s problem is one of Dr. Smith’s favorite aspects of her job. “I might see a patient with ankle pain or pain on the side of the knee, but those might just be the symptoms,” she says. “The underlying problem may be something seemingly unrelated, such as weakness in the hip, so we need to focus our treatment plan on strengthening the hip.”
Dr. Smith is an assistant professor of clinical orthopedics and rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine.