MAVEN Project physician volunteers provide regular education sessions on the latest advances in medicine to support the ongoing learning and development of safety net clinic providers. The Laurie Green, MD Educator Award is given annually to a physician volunteer who goes above and beyond to serve our partners’ education needs. We are honored to present the 2023 Educator Award to Judian Smith, MD.
Dr. Judian Smith is demystifying psychiatry for MAVEN Project clinic providers
When she was in medical school, Judian Smith, M.D., didn’t initially consider pursuing a career in psychiatry, until a rotation in the specialty changed her mind. At a time when medicine was speeding up and appointments were getting shorter, psychiatrists were still able to spend ample time with patients and address their concerns in depth. She also enjoyed the complexity of the diagnostics and medical treatment involved with this specialty, and she fell in love with it immediately.
“There are dozens of patients I was able to maintain for the duration of my 35 years of private practice,” Dr. Smith shared. “As other specialties moved to increasingly short visit times, one of the things I loved most about psychiatry was the chance to talk with patients and get to know them in depth.”
Dr. Smith maintained a private practice for more than three decades, providing both psychotherapy and medications for patients. A teacher by nature, she has been a Clinical Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics since 1988, providing seminars to the residents and medical students on topics such as working with Personality Disorder patients, performing mental status exams, and diagnosing and handling difficult to treat psychiatric patients. She also served as the Medical Director for a mobile treatment program through the Mental Health Center of Dane County in Wisconsin, providing care for patients with severe schizophrenia with the goal of keeping them out of institutional care.
After cutting back her practice hours, Dr. Smith found she missed complex cases and the feeling of giving back. When she found MAVEN Project, she knew it was the perfect fit. A volunteer since 2018, she provides medical consults and 1:1 mentoring, but much of her impact comes through the continuing medical education sessions she leads. Teaching is her passion, and it shows.
Dr. Smith’s sessions have covered everything from pharmacological interventions for anxiety to addressing treatment resistant depression to diagnosing bipolar disorder. She also played a key role in MAVEN Project’s weekly COVID-19 updates that guided providers in community clinics for two years.
Through these education sessions, she has reached thousands of frontline care providers all over the country and helped prepare them to care for the ever-increasing number of patients struggling with mental illness.
“There’s a terrible shortage of psychiatrists in this country,” she noted. “Primary care providers are working with patients that even I would find challenging, and they’re having to manage those cases on their own. My heart really goes out to them.”
Because she knows how challenging these patients’ conditions can be, Dr. Smith aims to provide as much actionable knowledge and as many useful tips as possible. Her presentations help providers parse complex problems related to everything from the complicated treatment of bipolar disorder to the effectiveness of medications for PTSD to how different types of anxiety are best treated.
“I love arming physicians with practical knowledge, which they can then pass on to their own patients,” Dr. Smith added. “Many are on a litany of medications and face long wait times to see a mental health professional. But I love to teach, and I love to help these providers solve problems.”
Dr. Smith continues to work as a Clinical Adjunct Assistant Professor, providing guidance to residents on learning to treat psychiatric disorders using both psychotherapy and medications. She also teaches a seminar each year on diagnosing and treating patients with personality disorders.
She’s also active in her community, helping to tend a neighborhood garden. An avid tennis player, she also loves to cross country ski, kayak and run with her Labrador Retriever. When she’s not spending time with her husband and five grandchildren, Dr. Smith might also be found playing oboe in a local orchestra.
Here are some comments providers have shared about Dr. Smith’s education sessions:
- Excellent presenter! The information was practical and concise.
- Dr. Smith was excellent! I liked that she’s “old school.” I feel the same. Found the talk incredibly helpful.
- GREAT PRESENTER
- Excellent presentation, thank you! Very helpful to help delineate between what is MDD vs depressive presentation of BP.
- She was a great presenter!
- Loved it. Dr. Smith was such a warm and engaging psychiatrist. Very knowledgeable and helpful for primary care management. I didn’t even realize MAVEN offered psychiatry consults and would love to utilize this in the future.
- Excellent presentation. Very comprehensive.
- Wish the speaker practiced in my area!
- So, so, so helpful, thank you!