A Bethany Medical Provider Spotlight
Serving the Triad since 2002
Board-Certified in Family Medicine
In one afternoon, Dr. Karla Smith may diagnose a patient with cancer, or HIV. Later, she may have the pleasure of informing a young woman previously convinced that she could not get pregnant, that she will in fact soon be a mother.
“It takes you through a lot of emotion. We try to tell other Providers and our staff, too, that you’ve got to learn to try to compartmentalize that and not take it home,” she said.
For the past 11 years, Dr. Smith has run a Family Medicine practice at Bethany Medical at Skeet Club Road in High Point. She studied first at Stanford, then at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. She has worked in health systems from L.A. to Virginia, and North Carolina.
As a Black woman in health care, Dr. Smith enjoys a unique perspective. She can sometimes be the only woman in the room, the only minority, or both, none of which is lost on her. She sees herself as strategically placed to be the difference in how her patients experience health care.
“I try to treat patients like I would want to be treated, or I would like my family to be treated. I always try to give them enough time and try to make sure they are heard,” she said.
Dr. Smith knows well the systemic disparities in health care, from the lack of community health education to the barriers to accessing quality health care for minority populations and the poor. It is part of why she choose to join Bethany Medical; she appreciates the diversity reflected both in the company’s makeup and in its patient population.
She uses her position to help educate patients on how to prevent chronic health issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension. She takes time to listen and hear the patient’s complaints and works with them to develop a diagnosis and treatment plan they can stick to.
“We want to prevent disease rather than care for it afterward,” she said.
In addition to improving outcomes, preventive care is less expensive. It costs more to treat a chronic condition than it does to do early screening and to prescribe a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
Bethany Medical is open seven days a week, with 15 locations across the Triad.
“That to me is the prime … because patients know seven days a week there is a Bethany open somewhere they can go to and get something taken care of,” Dr. Smith said.
Her empathy may be why she is consistently ranked among Bethany’s highest-rated Providers, according to patient reviews.
Dr. Smith has been known to laugh with her patients, to cry with them and, when appropriate, to pray with them.
“I think my faith is probably what helps keep me grounded in health care, because if you don’t have that I’m not really sure how you cope with it,” she said.