When Dr. David Smithson was invited to join the team at the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine (PCRM) in Edmonton, it was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. Not only was it the chance to live and work in the vibrant community, which balanced a plethora of outdoor opportunities and a rich festival and cultural scene, but he also got to be part of the opening of a brand new facility in the region.
Dr. Smithson began his training in gynecology before deciding that fertility was his desired path. After four years of undergraduate studies at Queen’s University, he went on to complete medical school and an obstetrics and gynecology residency at Western University. His fellowship training in fertility was at the University of Ottawa.
With the opening of the PCRM clinic in Edmonton, Dr. Smithson was drawn to the unique opportunity to contribute to a clinic from the ground up. He was not only passionate and tuned-in to the intricacies of fertility, but he thrived on teamwork – a combination he was happy to find at PCRM.
We asked Dr. Smithson a few questions to gain some additional insights into his unique occupation and new home of Edmonton.
It’s a very rewarding specialty in terms of its ability to help individuals and couples achieve the goal of building their families. As a fertility specialist, I find that I am often one of the first people patients can talk to about their struggle with fertility. Being able to describe and provide treatments to overcome many diagnoses of infertility provides a great sense of satisfaction.
From an academic perspective, the complexities of the human endocrine system is very interesting to me. Such small quantities of a given signaling hormone can effect such significant functions throughout the human body, from the growth and maturation of an egg, to the maintenance and development of pregnancy.
Different presentations in both women and men can be like puzzles to solve, which can often be an exciting challenge. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is still a relatively new form of treatment, having been around for less than forty years, but it’s come a long way since its inception. With new technologies like comprehensive chromosome screening (CCS), we can help couples not only overcome infertility but also lower the chance of miscarriage.
What drew you to PCRM?
I like the comprehensive approach to patient care that is taken at PCRM. The clinic has a great foundation and as the staff has grown, it’s made up of members who work well together as a cohesive team. The opportunity for me to be part of a brand new clinic is also unique when you work in such a specialized field. Another aspect exclusive to PCRM is the inclusion of genetic counselors who work onsite to provide an invaluable support to patients.
What’s your favourite part of what you do?
Seeing a patient or a couple after they’ve been through treatment and their early ultrasound has shown a positive fetal heartbeat. Watching that ultrasound screen, and finding themselves in a place they may never have thought possible, it’s beyond words as far as how rewarding it is to be a part of that. On the one hand, it’s bittersweet as it signals the end of our journey together but at the same time, it’s the ultimate goal that they came to see me hoping to achieve and being able to share in that is very special.
Aside from your work, what are some of your favourite things to do?
Travel. I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have seen a fraction of this big planet we call home. I’ve always striven to get out of my comfort zone and get off the beaten path whenever possible, whether that means trying my hand at hang gliding in Rio, staying in a family-run hut on the beach in Samoa, or enjoying delicious street food in Southeast Asia. The opportunity to spend time with local people and get a glimpse into their lives and cultures has been arguably as much of an education for me as my formal training over the years. I also enjoy spending time outdoors as an avid runner and hiker. Given Edmonton’s proximity to the Rockies and its own extensive trail network, I think it’s definitely a city I’ll be happy to call home and a place to continue my career in reproductive medicine.
To learn more about Dr. Smithson, visit his bio on the team page.