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Burke Primary Care welcomes Morganton Native Dr. Stephen Smith

Sept. 11, 2023, 11:28 a.m.

Original Article in The Paper

During his early years of medical school, Morganton native Dr. Stephen Smith, the son of Dr. Keith Smith, was asked by a friend in
what direction he thought his career was headed. 

The young med student didn’t know exactly what course he wanted to pursue, but he responded emphatically with two things he most
definitely did not want to do.

“I do not want to go into family medicine,” he told his friend. “And I do not want to go back to Morganton.”  

And yet after four years in medical school and three years in residency, Smith is indeed back in Morganton, and he will be working
with his father on staff at Burke Primary Care as a family physician.

A 2011 graduate of Freedom High School, Smith previously attended what was then The Children’s School in Morganton and Table
Rock Middle School before becoming a Patriot.

“I very much enjoyed growing up in Morganton,” Smith remembered. “I was into the outdoors growing up – camping and hiking.”

At Freedom, Smith was a member of both the Science Olympiad team and the Quiz Bowl team, and he also played soccer, swam, and
was on the lacrosse team.

“I was very fortunate to have grown up in Morganton,” he said. “I’ve lived a number of different places now and I realize just what a
special community this is.”
So when did the son of a physician begin to realize that he might want to follow his father into the medical profession?

“Toward the end of high school was when I began to think seriously about it,” Smith responded. “My dad never pushed me. He let me
choose my own path. But he was very helpful with his advice and he provided some great connections."

“I was not entirely sold on that path going into college,” he continued. “But I liked the idea of going into a profession where I would
spend my time helping people.”

Smith looked seriously at three schools for his undergraduate studies – Clemson, Duke, and UNC – before deciding to go to Clemson.
His undergraduate major was psychology, with the idea that he might pursue his medical degree in psychiatry.

After wrapping up his bachelor of science degree, a Tiger transitioned into a Gamecock as Smith began his medical studies at the
University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

As he transitioned through clinical rotations in the later years of medical school, Smith said he enjoyed virtually everything he
experienced including surgery and ob-gyn work.

“I began to realize,” he said, “that the practice of family medicine would allow me to do a lot of things and not be locked into only one
type of specialty.”

After medical school came three years of residency at a hospital clinic in Grand Rapids, Mich. – three years that included dealing with
the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.

With residency behind him, Smith said it really was not a difficult choice to return to Morganton and work alongside his father at the
county’s largest private medical practice.

“Morganton presented me with a really good opportunity,” he said. “Everyone at this practice is simply super nice and I’ll have the
opportunity to work with my dad, which I’m really looking forward to.”

Asked what challenges he will face as he begins his practice, Smith answered, “Balancing the need to spend enough time with each
patient against the desire not to keep the next person waiting. I’ll need to perfect how to strike that balance.”

On a deeper level, Smith said, “I know it will take time to build trust with my patients, but I hope to be a doctor who can grow along
with his patients and along with the community. I’m looking forward to being a part of that process.”

Bill Poteat is editor of The Paper. He may be reached at 828-445-8595 or via email at [email protected].

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