Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA | ThriveAP Faculty

Featured ThriveAP Faculty: Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA

Featured ThriveAP Faculty Discussion: Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA

At ThriveAP we are honored to have an expansive faculty of expert speakers and APPs with impressive credentials and experience. Today we are going to take a few moments to get to know one of our faculty members and gain their advice for thriving in an advanced practice career. 

Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, rheumatology expert, expands upon journey, shares advice on what to look for in a mentor, journals and publications he uses to stay abreast emerging best practices and more! Watch the interview below with Sarah Maxwell, ThriveAP Marketing Director and Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, or read the transcript.

Meet Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA

Interview Transcript

Sarah Maxwell: Hello, my name is Sarah Maxwell, Director of Marketing at ThriveAP. At ThriveAP, we are honored to have an expansive faculty of expert speakers and APPs with impressive credentials and experience. Today, I'm going to take a few moments to get to know one of our faculty members a little bit better and gain some of their advice for thriving in an advanced practice career. Thank you for joining us today Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA!

Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA: Thank you, Sarah. Great to be with you this afternoon. 

SM: I know your time is extremely valuable, so I'm going hop right in and ask you to tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, who you are, where you live, and a little bit about your practice.

BS: Well, thank you so much. I am Ben Smith. I'm a rheumatology PA. I've worked clinically in rheumatology for over 23 years. I have worked solely in rheumatology throughout my career as a PA,  graduating from the Medical College of Georgia PA program. Since that time, I've practiced in one specialty in one practice at the McIntosh Clinic in Thomasville, Georgia.

It's been a wonderful opportunity in the specialty. Additionally, about a little over six years ago, I transitioned into working in PA Education accepting a faculty position at the Florida State University's School of Physician Assistant Practice where I now serve as the Program Director and Associate Dean. FSU, of course, is located in Tallahassee, Florida.

SM: Wow. Well, sounds like you're already extensively involved in education. So tell us a little bit about how long you've been speaking with ThriveAP and maybe what attracted you to the opportunity, since it sounds like you are really involved in educating APPs.

BS: I can't pinpoint exactly the the year in which it started, but probably 7 to 10 years now that I've had the wonderful privilege of speaking with for ThriveAP. And I remember that initial opportunity when the invitation came, I was so tremendously excited about this opportunity.

I simply love the opportunity to meet and have a conversation with fellow colleagues, both PAs and NPs, regardless of where they are. It really has been wonderful to collaborate and learn together over this time, sharing knowledge specific to rheumatology which certainly is a passion.

SM: Great. And with that in mind, I wanted to know a little bit about what your greatest passion of your role would be. Could expand upon that a little?

BS: Yeah, so that's a question that causes a lot of reflection. As a graduating student I would never have imagined the meaningful opportunities that have occurred throughout my career to this point.

The opportunity to do these types of things, share knowledge, and learn from others. The opportunity literally to travel the world, the opportunity to participate in advancing knowledge or education, or quite frankly, science. But if I had to pinpoint one thing that's most noteworthy, as I think about this, I really do believe it's those individual patient relationships.

They bring such a tremendous sense of pleasing and an opportunity to work together with so many good people, who in my case, have rheumatic disease and to help them remain functional, have less pain, and do many things that they both need, and want, to do in their life. I think for me, many opportunities have come, but the opportunity to interact with patients with rheumatic disease has been a a wonderful opportunity.

SM: I would imagine with that, because you're doing so much education and you are seeing so many patients, it's probably tough to stay on top of all of the new best practices or procedures and everything that's always evolving in the healthcare space. Tell me are there certain journals that you use or apps or websites or anything that you turn to, to help make sure that the information that you're relaying is the latest and greatest?

BS: For rheumatology in my specialty, my go-to source is the American College Rheumatology (ACR),  because of the science, which they both support, recognize and help to bring to the limelight of all that we say and do. There are a couple of journals of the ACR and which I also reference, Arthritis Care and Research, Arthritis and Rheumatology. Those are certainly noteworthy as well. Also, there are various apps which we use in clinic which are tremendously helpful.

Again, I'm a PA  in my certifying process, I'm responsible really for all medical. I use those opportunities as well, keeping up with journals that are PA specific to keep up with my medical knowledge and making sure I'm staying up to date for those who I serve.

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SM: Gosh, in all that free time you have, right?

BS: Correct. Of course.

SM: You've spoken a lot about educating APPs and sharing that knowledge. When you think about that, what do you think it takes to be a good mentor? Or what are some of the attributes that you would look for, or did look for, in a mentor?

BS: Whether it's stated or not stated, I think we're all looking for colleagues or relationships that we can go to for answers. It's often reciprocated in those conversations. Mentor to mentee, mentee to mentor, but I think things that are notable and so much is dependent upon in that relationship, is certainly availability and listening to conversation, to questions that may come. I think that mutual relationship is fruitful over time and it's quite motivating and encouraging.

I think availability and the ability to simply listen to questions or concerns or experiences really wins the day in that relationship. The other opportunity, I think that comes with a mentor to mentee, mentee to mentor relationship, is the opportunity to really share a vision of the many wonderful opportunities in a clinical practice of the things that we're doing to affect lives positively every day.
Then perhaps even outside the clinic for those who are interested to expand, reach and influence many other colleagues, wherever they might be.

SM: That's a great point. Shared vision hasn't been one I've heard a lot throughout these interviews with our faculty. So I think that's such an interesting point you bring up and kind of speaks a little bit to what you had touched on of the 'why'.

BS: Right. Why are we doing this? What is our goal at the end of the day?

SM: I think that's a really good point.

BS: As a student I never would've imagined all the great privileges and opportunities and experiences that have been had. I'm just so grateful for those things and I think helping each other to find and discover that is a wonderful opportunity.

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SM: Absolutely. Well, and with that in mind, you've had such a successful career, is there any advice that you would give the next generation of APPs or providers? Maybe some tips that worked for you that could help them prepare for a successful future?

BS: I think two things, and I like to share these with students as well, I think the application is pertinent and, this is valid for both, stay thirsty. Stay thirsty for knowledge, stay thirsty for those things that lie ahead of us.

Keep our eyes open, our ears open. Our minds and our hearts open as well, because as we do that, we will see things and we'll be enlightened by that as well. Stay thirsty for those opportunities and then, a word that gets a lot of attention today is this idea of grit and resilience. I think those are valid and very desirable attributes and qualities for all of us to consider.

Every time we make a diagnosis, every time we have an interaction, we truly do change lives, whether it's a diagnosis or not a diagnosis, that makes a difference. Just being grateful for those opportunities that we have. So I think stay thirsty, be resilient, have grit and those things will help us as we go forth and help others. 

SM: Absolutely. You know, it's funny, I actually, I think it's on my like LinkedIn profile, I always say to be intentional and to stay hungry. I completely understand what you're saying. You know, you always want to, especially I think in the healthcare space, where everything is changing so rapidly and evolving with technology and innovation that you need to keep putting yourself out there and taking advantage of opportunities to, to network with your peers and learn from them and take advantage of amazing experiences that you can get from that.

BS: Completely agree. Hunger, thirst, whichever. We'll take both, we'll take it. 

SM: Well, thank you so much. I think we've taken up a lot of your valuable time today, and thank you for being with us and sharing your incredible expertise.

BS: Thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to meeting many others in the months and the years still.

SM: Absolutely, and thank you everyone for joining us today and stay tuned to meet more of our faculty. Have a great day.

More About Benjamin Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA

Benjamin J. Smith, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, is the Interim Program Director and Associate Dean for the Florida State University College of Medicine School of Physician Assistant Practice. Ben has worked as a physician assistant in rheumatology for more than 20 years. 

During his extensive tenure he has been awarded many notable awards including, being inducted into Pi Alpha National Honor Society for Physician Assistants in 2019, Florida State University Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2018-19, and being named a Distinguished Fellow for the American Academy of Physician Assistants in 2015. Ben has also been published more than 40 times.

We are truly honored to have faculty of Ben's caliber in our unmatched expert network. If you're interested in learning directly from experts, like Ben, apply for the ThriveAP program today! 


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