VIRGINIA — When Dr. Stephen Smith remembers the family doctor in the small Colorado mining town where he grew up, he recalls how the physician served the community and earned its respect.

“I remember the respect our family gave to our doctor,” says Dr. Smith, who recently joined the Family Medicine Department at the Essentia Health-Virginia Clinic. That impression remained with him as he started to think about a career.

The idea of serving his community was also important and meshed with his faith. Dr. Smith describes his faith as a guiding principle on his life, from his days as a Boy Scout earning the rank of Eagle Scout through his time as a missionary in Brazil.

Dr. Smith spent two years as a Mormon missionary in smaller towns around Brazil, serving the community and absorbing the local language.

“It was two years of meeting people and making friends,” he says. He has stayed in touch with many of those friends, and hopes to visit Brazil again someday.

It was during his time as a missionary that Dr. Smith learned another aspect of a physician’s life that suited him. “I felt like people would come to me and tell me their problems,” he says. “So when I was becoming a doctor, it felt natural to have people still coming to me, to seek help for their problems.”

Dr. Smith chose an international route to earning a medical degree, graduating from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica, in the Caribbean. He completed a residency in family medicine at Central Michigan University in Saginaw, Mich. He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine in family medicine.

Dr. Smith strongly believes in a patient-centered approach to medicine. “I want to give patients the best overview, and all the options about what is going on, and then let them make the choice,” he says.

Dr. Smith says he has felt warmly welcomed in Virginia, which is about the same size as his hometown of Canon City, Colo. “My family is really excited to be here,” he says. He and his wife, Tamara, have a 3-yar-old son, Felix.

Being in the Boy Scouts instilled a love of the outdoors so Dr. Smith and his family are looking forward to the many opportunities that northern Minnesota offers. “We’ve been biking on the Mesabi Trail. I like to play Frisbee golf at Olcott Park, and we checked out rock-climbing areas near Sandstone,” he says.

Dr. Smith is also looking forward to meeting new patients of all ages in Virginia. He says he enjoys the opportunity of getting to know entire families.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith, call (218) 749-7800. To see his full profile, visit EssentiaHealth.org and click on “Find a Medical Professional.”

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