Class of 2012
Ten years ago, Dr. David Smith made the unusual move of starting an independent clinic. His entrepreneurial spirit and community approach caught the eye of the selection committee.
What are you doing now?
Pediatrician/owner of Sartell Pediatrics.
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
It was a tremendous boost to the practice and recognition within the community. It has allowed me to meet some wonderful leaders in the community and become more involved in various activities and organizations.
Other big changes since you received the award?
We have added a psychologist and nurse practitioner to the practice. We will be adding another 3,700 square feet to the building this fall. We won the 2015 Sartell Business of the Year award.
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
Small business growth by having local communities make building policies and other ordinances as "business friendly" as possible.
Originally ran: January 6, 2013
Dave Smith's destiny was perhaps preordained when his father became a doctor, inspiring all of his children to wind up working in the medical field. Dave's older sister is a pharmacist and his younger brother works as a representative for a drug company. Dave, meanwhile, went to Notre Dame as a soccer player and met his wife in South Bend, Ind. After graduation, he worked for a year in Chicago at a drop-in center for the homeless before enrolling in medical school. He and his wife eventually moved to Minnesota, in part because she is from White Bear Lake. He worked at St. Cloud Medical Group before deciding to launch the only independent pediatric practice in Central Minnesota.
What influential factor led you to your current career?
"There wasn't necessarily a turning point one way or another where I could say 'this happened to me and because of that I'm a doctor.' It's more seeing over the years my dad's relationship with his patients and how he liked to go to the hospital or the clinic. ... My parents met in the Peace Corps so they always had that kind of outlook in their lives. They went on two dates and got married and they've been married now for about 40 years. They've been big influences for me about the bigger meaning of life and the feeling that we're on this Earth and we're blessed with certain things and, because of that, we should feel obligated to give back to those around us ... I've always been drawn to helping others. I know it sounds basic and simple, but it really is the essence of why I got into medicine."
What's the best part of your work day?
"I really enjoy interacting with new families — young people who are starting off and they're obviously excited to have children. Questions that seem very mundane to people — 'How many times is the baby supposed to poop?' — those are fine with me because they're probably worried in the beginning. ... If they're really worried about their child at 3 a.m., even if it's about something simple, if they call out of concern that's fine with me."
What is your most important extra-curricular activity and why?
"The things I invest my time with often are related to kids. I do the BLEND (Better Living through Exercise Nutrition and Diet) program, where I focus on helping children develop good, healthy habits. One of the reasons I do pediatrics is to try and get to the kids before they get those bad habits. BLEND is something that's communitywide and works through the CentraCare Foundation and other doctors and groups in the community. It's really a grassroots effort ... and why I've done it for the last 5-6 years. ... . I'm also involved with the March of Dimes, and that's another extension of why I do what I do — to take care of kids early in life. ... I also try to encourage people who are thinking about going into medicine as a career."
How do you continue to learn new skills that will keep you on the cutting edge of your business?
"You have to surround yourself with the right people and try and know your limitations as far as what you're willing to do. You have to get outside your comfort zone. ... I'm not a detail-oriented person, so that's why it's so helpful for me to have a wife that is and nurses that are (detail-oriented). I'm much more of a big-picture kind of person, and hopefully I've learned what my strengths and weaknesses are."
How do you see the greater St. Cloud area in 20 years and what would be your role in it?
"One of the reasons we moved to this area is because it's great for families and to raise a family. Having young children allows me to be in the community and try and see where some needs are and, hopefully, fill them ... . Whether that's being a Cub Scout den leader when everyone is kind of stepping back and I'm like 'All right, I guess I'll do it,' everyone's in those situations. It might be at church or some other organization in the community. My hope is that as my kids get older, we can continue to be involved and build a healthy community. That's the idea behind BLEND and March of Dimes, to be ready for those kids — even before they're born or when they're babies — so we can help those families raise them. Everything from community parks to school systems is important. What's being served in schools? What activities are available? Are kids safe walking to school? My hope is to be a part of that dialogue and help move the community in a direction that promotes health."
Family: Wife, Jill; they have two sons, ages 9 and 7.
Education: University of Notre Dame and Wright State School of Medicine.
FYI: He opened Sartell Pediatrics this fall, making it the only independent pediatric practice in Central Minnesota. Smith has served on the March of Dimes board for the past two years and has been a medical co-chair for BLEND for the past five years. He is the pediatric department chair for St. Cloud Hospital.