Former Medical Student at LincolnHealth Returns to Damariscotta to Begin Her Career
November 23, 2020
Damariscotta Maine – Most doctors fresh out of medical residency don’t have the pleasure of seeing doctors they know well on the first day of work. Valerie Smith, MD, a primary care and women’s health physician at Lincoln Medical Partners, renewed old acquaintances on day one, thanks to nine months she spent here during her third year of medical school in 2014-15.
Smith was a part of the Maine Track Program, designed to give students firsthand experience in rural medicine. The program is a partnership between Tufts University School of Medicine and Maine Medical Center. Smith, and all participants in the Maine Track program, work closely with health care providers and receive training in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Surgery, Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Internal Medicine. When time permits, the students can pursue self-directed learning and explore other types of care offered at the rural facility, like emergency medicine, orthopedics and ophthalmology.
“I was gravitating toward obstetrics and gynecology, but I loved general primary care,’’ Smith said. “I’m excited to have found a way to follow family members through their health care journey while caring for moms, newborns and older children.”
The pull of primary care came early in her time at LincolnHealth, as did the recognition of the critical role that rural health care providers play.
“It was a joy to see people back here and follow them along. Dr. (Timothy) Goltz also took me out on some home visits to patients who had trouble making it to the office. We were able to keep patients safe and meet their medical care needs as well.
“I honestly don’t know where I would be if I didn’t come here in the Maine Track Program,’’ Smith said. “Unlike the traditional medical school model, I got to actively participate in all of the core rotations simultaneously, and I experienced what it would be like to be a primary care provider in a rural community.”
After earning her Doctorate of Medicine at Tufts University, the Brunswick native completed her family medicine residency at Maine Medical Center. Smith had previously graduated with honors from the University of Maine with a degree in Chemistry.
Smith said that she’s thankful to many of her colleagues for the support received while here as a student and is excited about what the future holds.
“I learned so much from my preceptors, and everyone was so supportive,’’ she said. “Instead of sitting back and watching all the time, I had a chance to meet with patients and talk with them and got to follow them. They gave me plenty of room to learn, and I cannot say thank you enough.”
Dr. Smith resides in Walpole with her fiancée, Dr. Ryan Donohue, who also recently joined Lincoln Medical Partners as a pediatrician. The couple enjoys spending time in the mountains hiking, downhill and backcountry skiing, and rock climbing. Smith also enjoys cooking, knitting, gardening and brewing kombucha, a fermented tea.
Dr. Smith is accepting new patients. For more information, contact Lincoln Medical partners at 207-563-4250.
LincolnHealth: With campuses in the coastal communities of Boothbay Harbor and Damariscotta, Maine, LincolnHealth is a full-service healthcare system and is part of MaineHealth, the largest integrated health system in Maine.