Isaac Smith

“When it comes to rural healthcare, I think of home. I want to make it my mission, alongside the mission of the Physician Assistant program, to go out to underserved communities and provide quality care.”

Hillsville, VA
Undergraduate Degree:
Biology, Radford University

Congratulations on being selected as an AHEC Community Health Scholar! How does this opportunity relate to your graduate studies at WVU? What skillsets are you utilizing from what you learned?

As part of the Community Health Scholars program, I am afforded the opportunity to learn from additional experience in a rural healthcare setting. In the Physician Assistant program, we have several clinical rotations built into the curriculum in a variety of settings. With CHS, my family medicine rotation will now be an extra rural rotation in Rainelle, West Virginia. I will begin this rotation in May, and I am looking forward to using the skills I have gained in other clinical settings thus far to have an impact on this community.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your academic experience? What excites you most about where you are?

As an undergraduate Biology major at Radford University, I constantly sought opportunities to challenge myself and grow as a student and person. Some of these experiences were joining the Army National Guard and serving as a volunteer EMT. However, I was uncertain about what I wanted to pursue in the future. It was after conversations with my fellow Guard members that I was first introduced to PA studies, and realized just how much there is to learn about the medical world. That is what led me to the PA program at WVU.

Morgantown feels like a big city to me. When it comes to rural healthcare, I think of home. I grew up in apple orchard country in Virginia, with my dad and brother having their own logging business. Being in a rural setting feels natural to me. Though I am from a rural background, returning to a rural setting through the lens of a healthcare provider will ultimately make me a better provider so that I can learn how to speak from a healthcare perspective when addressing the challenges these communities face. Honing in on those challenges and increasing accessibility in underserved areas helped me to develop a new level of skill and insight while helping those in need.

What would you tell prospective students interested in pursuing the Physician Assistant program about your experience at WVU and the School of Medicine?

You are going to experience some type of homesickness regardless, so remember to get out and embrace the change and the new aspects of life, no matter where you are coming from. West Virginia has so many areas to explore, and I am still learning new ones!

How has your community of fellow students and faculty impacted you since coming to WVU?

I would have to say the best part of the PA program is the supportive environment made by my fellow classmates. Everyone sees our education as an experience we are going through together, and I appreciate the fact that faculty and students can be serious about their studies but also laugh together and genuinely share in a good time while learning.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with prospective students?

When I think about words that define me, one of the first that comes to mind is faith. I am very strong in my Christian faith. In my spare time, I enjoy score shooting, hunting, and being in the outdoors. When you are in Morgantown, check out the beautiful forests at Cooper’s Rock!