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When Sara Lang Smith was about 7 years old, she stepped in bravely to help her mother when others couldn’t quite handle the challenge.
“My mom had surgery to have a benign tumor removed,” she said. “She needed changes in the dressing to keep it clean and care for it. My father was getting queasy, but I thought it was the coolest thing in the world, so I helped take care of the dressings.
“I was the only one in the house who could help my mom without falling over and passing out,” she said. “From the fourth grade on, any time that anyone got injured, I was curious about how they healed.”
Now, as a professional physician, the Traverse City native still is helping people, most recently by joining Oaklawn’s medical staff as a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology.
Smith now is seeing patients at the Oaklawn Medical Group’s new Obstetrics & Gynecology office in Suite 3D of the Wright Medical Building at 215 E. Mansion St. Appointments may be made by calling (269) 558-0702.
Smith said she always has been fascinated with the biological mechanisms connected with the human body and the healing process.
Smith came to represent the third generation in her family to work in the medical field. Her mother is a former physical therapist and her maternal grandmother had served as a nurse in Grand Rapids.
“My grandmother was very brave and tough and I respect her a lot for what she did in her profession,” Smith said.
After graduation from Traverse City Central High School, Smith attended Grand Rapids-based Walker Medical Instructional Services, graduating from its certified nursing assistant program in 2013. She received a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry that same year from Hope College.
Smith pointed to a formative experience that occurred in 2011, under a program though Hope College’s nursing department. She went on a medical missions trip to Querétaro, Mexico, touring several hospitals and witnessing live births at a women’s hospital.
“Learning about the discrepancies in health care between our two countries was very eye-opening,” she said. “It helped me to understand why it’s important to help people.
“After that experience, I was determined to go into health care, help provide care to all and do my best to help patients regardless of their insurance situation or other circumstances.”
Smith also undertook work in health-care education and research in Peru.
“Those medical missions solidified my passion for women’s health as I encountered many preventative diseases resulting from a limited access to health care,” she said. “From those experiences, I have a passion for providing the best care for my patients.”
Smith went on to earn her degree in 2017 as a doctor of osteopathic medicine from Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, recently completing a residency program in obstetrics and gynecology at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. She also served as a clinic instructor in the university’s department of osteopathic surgical specialties.
Smith is certified and trained in DaVinci robotic surgery and said she looks forward to working with Oaklawn’s own DaVinci equipment. She also is certified in basic as well as advanced cardiovascular life support.
She is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association and the Michigan Osteopathic Association. She also is a member of DOCARE International, a nonprofit medical outreach program that brings health care to underserved communities in remote areas of the Western Hemisphere.
Smith’ husband of four years, Joseph Smith, works in the hardware field in Warren. The couple are in the process of moving their residence from Chesterfield to the Marshall area.
Smith said she and her husband enjoy “pretty much any activity on the water,” including boating, kayaking and fishing. These activities include deep-sea fishing in Florida and fishing trips with her family in Alaska. She also enjoys hiking, exercising and playing recreational sports.
Smith said she had driven through Marshall over the years but only recently has come to know the community better while planning to move there with her husband.
“I love the downtown area,” she said. “It’s very charming. Its reminds me of Traverse City when I was growing up there. I also love the festivals and the different things the community does. It seems like a great place to raise a family.
“I also love the feel of Oaklawn,” she said. “That was a huge draw to me. It’s also closer to the majority of our family. I feel you could really make a difference, get to know your patients and be a part of the community, so I’m very excited to start contributing.”