Dr. Mike Smith just graduated in May with a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) in Biostatistics from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, but he’s been contributing to public health practice for nearly a decade. His efforts were recently recognized at the CityMatCH Leadership and MCH (Maternal Child Health) Epidemiology Conference in Philadelphia with the Early Career Professional Achievement Award from the Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology for outstanding leadership and contributions to the field during the early part of his career.
[Photo: Dr. Mike Smith]
The two-time South Carolina alumnus always had an interest in preventive health, and his professional experience steered him toward maternal and child health with its widespread, practical focus on prevention. “Maternal and child health is particularly interesting to me because it is an area in which prevention has become ‘main stream’ through health services, such as vaccination and prenatal care,” he explains. “This interest was really cemented when I took a full-time job with the S.C. PRAMS program at DHEC.”
Dr. Smith began his career at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in 2007 as the operations manager for the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) while he was still working on a Master of Science in Public Health in Biostatistics at the University of South Carolina. During this time, Dr. Smith received the U.S. Public Health Service Traineeship and won a Best Abstract Award at the PRAMS Annual Conference for his analysis of PRAMS data.
After four years with PRAMS, Dr. Smith joined DHEC’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau—initially as an epidemiologist and later as the director for the Bureau’s Division of Research and Planning. As director, he oversees projects and programs, such as the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review, Fetal Infant Mortality Review, S.C. Birth Defects Program, CDC MD STARNet, and others.
Meanwhile, Dr. Smith had begun working toward earning his DrPH. Through his DHEC roles, he began collaborating with numerous community and organizational committees, workgroups and coalitions across the state, working to establish an evidence-based approach to maternal and child health. Throughout his work, Dr. Smith integrates a focus on racial disparities and inequities.
“Mike has shown himself to be one of the best assets to maternal and child health in South Carolina and his rare combination of expertise in analytics, teaching, and passion to help partners contributed to a shift toward evidence-based maternal and child health across the state’s maternal and child health workforce,” says Director of the Bureau of Child and Maternal Health Beth De Santis. “Through his work, he has helped build an infrastructure for maternal and child health epidemiology in South Carolina and led robust projects that support public health practice within that infrastructure. He also supports partners, such as Healthy Start and March of Dimes, with their maternal and child health epidemiology and public health practice efforts.”