Breaking News
  • We are now accepting applications for our full-term Trustee and Student Trustee positions! See below for more information!


Lee Smith, MD, JD, FACEP

X icon

Lee Smith, MD, JD, says on his career in healthcare that he has “had the great fortune to be part of many discussions regarding the direction of health care providers and their education.” Many of those conversations occurred during Smith’s time on the board of the National Commission on Certification of PAs (NCCPA). He also developed an emergency department master’s degree program between Alderson-Broaddus College and West Virginia University for PAs.

Smith was the American College of Emergency Physicians’ appointment to the National Commission on Certification of PAs in 2000 to 2009 and served as the board’s chair from 2008 to 2009. Smith says of his time on the NCCPA Board: “While serving as a Board member of the NCCPA and later as Chair, we wrestled with many complicated and political issues especially involving specialization. I was grateful to be surrounded by professional and passionate leaders in their fields and superb staff from CEO to administrators who assisted in these difficult deliberations. I sincerely appreciate my time with this organization and am extremely proud of the work accomplished.”

While in college and wanting to know if working in healthcare would be a good fit he began employment as an emergency department orderly. It was in that atmosphere where an understanding off the many facets required to have successful delivery of quality healthcare. It was not just physicians and nurses but all the other staff including LPNs, technicians, housekeeping, administration, dietary, security and others, all necessary to make this juggernaut roll along. Understanding that there are many components to healthcare and requires each member’s contributions for success and satisfaction.

Smith graduated from the University of Charleston, West Virginia, in 1978 with a degree in Biology. He then went on to get his medical degree from Marshall University School of Medicine, Huntington, WV, in 1982 and a Post Doc in Surgery from the same university in 1985.

His interests became focused on following the old adage that says a surgeon is a physician who has completed their training. Having always loved anatomy, procedures, and technical aspects within the house of medicine he was later hired to work in a hospital located in the coal fields of southern West Virginia and was excited to be a part of a community focused on improving quality of life. He became Chief of Staff for a 55 bed hospital, head of the emergency department, medical director of the local EMS agency, and also attended to patients in a nursing home. In 1985, however, federal tax laws changed, and owners of small hospitals no longer could take advantage of losses as tax breaks. This resulted in many small hospitals beginning to close and meant that the county where he lived, with a population of over 20,000, would have no health care after 5PM when the single private clinic closed, compelling people to travel over an hour to the next nearest hospital. This brought Smith to a crossroads for a decision as to whether he would continue to work in rural medicine or transition into another form of healthcare. In working with state government, in an attempt to get that local hospital to go into receivership and keep it open, it became apparent that some individuals making decisions in health care were often unaffected by those decisions. At that moment, a path forward cleared, and he decided to seek additional training in the field of law. Having always felt that change is possible for those who get involved, however the nuance here is that while at that table, one must know and understand the language.

In 1991, he attained his Jurisprudence Doctorate (JD) from West Virginia University College of Law, Morgantown, WV. At the same time he became a faculty member for West Virginia University Department of Emergency Medicine from 1990 until 2014 when he transitioned to public health. While working as faculty in a level 1 trauma center he appointed as the American College of Emergency Medicine’s liaison to National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. During that time he created a post graduate training program in emergency medicine for physician assistants, a collaboration between Alderson Broaddus College and West Virginia University Department of Emergency Medicine. This resulted in his becoming a professor in the program’s Masters of Science in Emergency Medicine for PAs from 1991 to 2000. He was recognized by the American College of Emergency Physicians by being elected as a Fellow of that College (FACEP) for his work as a liaison with NCCPA.

Dr. Smith transitioned from pounding the linoleum in a level I trauma center to becoming Physician Director and County Health Officer for Monongalia Health Department (2014-present), Civil Surgeon with US Department of Homeland Security – US Citizenship and Immigration Services (2016-present), and Fusion Liaison Officer with US Department of Homeland Security – West Virginia Fusion Center (2022-present). While working in public health different opportunities opened up with law enforcement, emergency management, EMS, and Homeland Security. These, in turn, allowed a close relationship to develop with FEMA and multiple training opportunities. Further post doctorate training occurred at the Homeland Security Executive Education Program, at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Monterey, California, completing both the Executive Leaders Program 2017-18, and Radiological Emergency Preparedness 2021. Subsequently, he has several times lectured at NPS on observations made during a training exercise at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Opportunities within homeland security and FEMA are plentiful and should be considered by any and all health care workers especially physician assistants. Now winding down a career that has spanned over 40 years, Smith is focusing on radiological and nuclear events and has become the first person in WV to be trained as a Radiological Operations Support Specialist (ROSS) and is focused in passing on education and experience to the upcoming cohort.  Philosophically, one may look at their professional career and divide it into three parts with the early part being when one is green and learning and frequently looking up answers, followed by the second part which is when one is at the top of their game and successful in problem solving which then is followed by the third part where one is a senior partner and should focus on giving back and training the next generation. Smith says it has been his great pleasure to work and have worked in this exciting and challenging arena which is an enormous team sport.

Smith has earned many honors and recognitions in his career, including: the West Virginia Association of Counties’ Outstanding Service award (2021), the Rotary Club of Morgantown, West Virginia’s Service to a Better Community award (2021-2022), Morgantown Area Partnership Chairman’s Award for Leadership in Crisis (2022), and was appointed to the Outstanding Community Drug Prevention US Attorney’s Office, Clarksburg, West Virginia’s Monongalia County Quick Response Team (2022).

Looking forward to the next chapter of not working as much, he will maintain involvement and intellectual stimulation with his hobbies of photography, boating, travel and as a member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Acknowledgments: This biographical sketch was prepared by PA History Society staff with the assistance of Lee Smith and was submitted to the Society in June 2024. Photographs are courtesy of Dr. Smith.

When using information from this biography, please provide the proper citation as described within the PA History Society Terms of Use.