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Common Ground allows Dr. Smith to more effectively treat patients

Most everyone has a hobby, and Dr. Caleb Smith of Blue Ridge Family Medicine is no different.

Smith loves to lose himself in the world of model railroading, where he carefully crafts the tracks and the landscapes his model trains travel through. While many model railroad enthusiasts strive to faithfully recreate specific railroads, Smith blends together features from the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad – which he grew up learning about in his hometown of Hampton, Tennessee – and the Norfolk Southern Railway, which he observed during his time at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia.

“When I model, I kind of tie those two together and make my own world,” Smith said. Blending together Hampton and Blacksburg is a fitting pastime for Smith since both places had such a tremendous influence on the physician and the man he is today. The hometown values he learned in Hampton – including a deep faith in God – combined with his interest in hunting, fishing, skeet-shooting and NASCAR allow him to connect with his patients on a personal level. Meanwhile, the holistic approach to medicine he learned in Blacksburg gives him the tools he needs to treat the root causes of his patients’ ailments.

“I feel like there is a lot to be said for things that can’t be put on paper when it comes to science as far as the total well-being of a patient from spiritual care all the way down to what is actually going on physically with the body,” Smith said. “I think it seems a little more foreign to me that anybody would consider that somebody’s health is just what is physically going on, and there’s not that mental aspect, there’s not that
spiritual aspect.”

With that in mind, Smith believes he found the perfect fit at Blue Ridge Family Medicine after completing his training in 2020. The practice fosters a faith-based culture that allows Smith to authentically practice his brand of osteopathic medicine.

Returning to the region he grew up in has also been a blessing for Smith, who frequently sees patients who remind him of his parents and grandparents.

“I could talk all day with patients about keeping gardens, hunting, just things that are very, very woven into this area, things that are a way of life here,” Smith said. “Being able to relate to that goes a long way, because if you can’t relate to that, it’s tough to build that rapport and have good relationships with your patients.”

Smith said building close relationships with his patients allows him to have deeper conversations with them about issues such as making lifestyle changes in order to cut down on the number of medications they are taking.

When the trust is there, it’s easier to get folks on board to make those changes,” Smith said. “When I’m getting that first glimpse of the medication list, I like to make sure every one of them has a purpose. In training, I was surprised by how many times you look at a medication list and say, what’s that for? And then you go in the patient room and ask them what’s that for and they don’t know. I love to snip medication lists and get them down to as little as possible.

Caleb Smith. D.O.
Caleb Smith
Caleb Smith. D.O.

It’s one thing for a physician to make quality healthcare a top priority, but without the proper support system, it is difficult for a doctor to make that goal a reality. As part of State of Franklin Healthcare Associates, Smith says the resources he has at his disposal help ensure anything is possible.

“Looking at other groups where I have done rotations, you’re thinking about all aspects of that patient, but all the resources to help you out with that aren’t always there,” Smith said. “The key is to not have the limits I’ve seen in place before. At State of Franklin, the limits aren’t there.”

Smith said having resources like clinical pharmacists, social workers, home visit teams and a new state-of-the-art imaging center at his fingertips gives him a sense of confidence most young doctors are unable to enjoy.

“Coming out of residency, it’s easy to second-guess yourself, but having the team to back you up makes you do that less,” he said.