UW News

June 16, 1998

Dr. Ronald Smith of Billings honored for excellence in teaching adult medicine to University of Washington medical students

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Dr. Ronald H. Smith has been honored by the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine for his outstanding contributions to teaching medical students at the WWAMI community clinical training unit in internal medicine in Billings.

WWAMI is a partnership among the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho to educate new physicians for the region. Among the training opportunities WWAMI provides is the chance for third-year medical students to take their required clinical courses, called clerkships, at several towns and cities in the five-state region.

Smith has received a 1998 WWAMI Teaching Excellence Award in Internal Medicine, given for the first time this year. Recipients were selected from a pool of nominees on the basis of their enthusiasm and dedication to medical student teaching.

Smith helped create the Billings internal medicine teaching unit for medical students at the start of the WWAMI Program in Montana 25 years ago. He has coordinated the Billings clerkship since 1974. Medical students at the clerkship train with a number of local physicians and health professionals to learn about the practice of general adult medicine in a Montana community.

Residents in internal medicine (adult care) also do training rotations with Smith and his colleagues in Billings. Smith also teaches family physicians-in-training in the Montana Family Practice Residency in Billings. In addition, at the WWAMI university site at Montana State University in Bozeman, where UW medical students from Montana take their first year of medical school classes, Smith lectures on acquired infections and practical microbiology and gives clinical case presentations.

A native of Rock Springs, Wyo., Smith graduated from the University of Wyoming and the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York. He completed his internal medicine residency and a fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Washington. After serving as captain in the U.S. Army, including a one-year tour of duty as a physician at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh during the Vietnam War, Smith moved to Billings in 1968 to practice. He was appointed to the UW clinical faculty in 1974, and now is a clinical professor of medicine.

In 1996, the Yellowstone AIDS Project gave Smith a special award for his care and service to patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). He has also served as governor of the Montana Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP) and is a fellow of the ACP, a national professional academy.

Smith has given many talks on AIDS to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, hospital and nursing home personnel and high school students. He has served on the School Health Curriculum Committee for the Billings Public Schools and also has given talks to health professional societies around the state of Montana on antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant infections, plague and Hanta virus infections, staph infections, and infection control.

Other WWAMI faculty receiving Teaching Excellence Awards in Internal Medicine from the UW his year are Dr. Wesley Wilson of Missoula, Mont., Dr. George Novan of Spokane, Wash., and Dr. James Branahl of Boise, Idaho. Along with award presentations in each city, a commemorative plaque has been installed in their honor at the medical school’s Seattle campus.