Mallory Smith, MD, MS, grew up on the Texas side (i.e. the only side that matters) of Texarkana — a twin city that straddles Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas. She met her husband, Andrew, in the seventh grade, and the majority of their family still lives in Texarkana within a fifteen mile radius of one another. After high school, Smith studied microbiology at the University of Texas in Austin which led her on a path (so she thought) to becoming a pathologist. She started medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and was the vice president of the Pathology Association for Students. In one of her pathology electives, she realized she was the only person talking; it struck her that her extroverted personality was better fit for treating patients on a personal level rather than examining them through a microscope.
She completed pediatric residency at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where she fell in love with treating children who have complex chronic medical conditions and technology dependence. During her time as a senior resident and chief resident with Baylor College of Medicine, Smith started to consider the impact of critical illness on the trajectory of a child’s life and completed her first study on functional outcomes of PICU survivors. Her training coincided with the development and increasing study of the Post-Intensive Care Syndrome framework in critical care medicine. Because of her experiences in residency, she elected to pursue pediatric critical care medicine fellowship in Seattle at the University of Washington under the mentorship of Scott Watson, MD, MPH — a leader in the field of PICS-pediatrics.
During fellowship, Smith’s research focused on the association between severe pain experienced during critical illness and injury and post-discharge mental health and health-related quality of life. She pursued additional research training at the University of Washington School of Public Health where she completed her Masters of Science in Epidemiology. She also completed an NIH T32 research fellowship under the mentorship of Frederick Rivara, MD, MPH. This allowed her to explore other factors that may impact the associations between clinical symptoms and long-term outcomes.
During her fellowship in 2020, Smith and her husband, Andrew, welcomed their daughter, Hadleigh, into their family. It was there, at the bedside, through her new viewpoint as a physician and a mother, that Smith started to examine how these factors might impact a child’s experience of critical illness. Her new perspective highlighted a vital fact: the importance of families. Particularly, she began to focus her research on the impact of encouraging families to be families even within the confines of the PICU bed. At the end of fellowship, she examined the factors associated with family presence at the bedside and conducted qualitative studies to understand the barriers to and facilitators of presence as well as the caregiver’s perception of their role at the bedside.
Smith plans to apply for a K23 award in the 2023-2024 academic year to strengthen her qualitative research skills and conduct a prospective, mixed-methods study to identify family behaviors and interactions with healthcare providers that are associated with short-term clinical outcomes, as well as, long-term mental health outcomes.
Smith and her family are thrilled to be in St. Louis and look forward to attending many Cardinal’s games and learning the difference between “icing” and “offsides” at Blues games. They are expecting their second child in October 2022 and are excited to grow as a family. When the day comes that Smith has free time, she plans to train for a marathon (again) and grow vegetables in the garden with Hadleigh and new baby.