Recognized in February, Black History Month celebrates the achievements of African Americans and their central role in shaping our nation. In honor of the month, Brandon Smith, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at Akron Children’s, shares more about what Black History Month means to him and the individuals who have inspired his career.
What’s your job title, and how long have you worked at Akron Children’s Hospital?
I am a pediatric cardiologist, who primarily sees patients at Akron Children’s Pediatric Cardiology, North Canton and Wooster. I specialize in cardiac imaging, perform fetal echocardiograms and cardiac MRIs, and I’m a member LIFT clinic, caring for patients with single ventricle cardiac conditions. I completed my pediatric residency at Akron Children’s Hospital in 2011, and following a cardiology fellowship at University of Michigan, I returned in 2015.
What do you enjoy most about your work at Akron Children’s Hospital?
Partnering with patients and families is what I enjoy most. Whether telling a family their child’s heart is normal or making a diagnosis of congenital heart disease, I love providing excellent cardiac care in the communities I serve. It is a privilege to meet a family prenatally and help them navigate a cardiac diagnosis and care from that point through delivery, infancy, childhood and adolescence.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Personally, Black History Month is an opportunity for reflection, to honor those who have come before to create opportunities for individuals, like me, today. It is a time to focus on the contributions African Americans have made in our history and an opportunity to emphasize continued goals of equality.
How do you recognize and celebrate the month?
I recognize Black History Month by teaching my young children the legacy of African American culture. We have visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Center for Civil and Human Rights and Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park to broaden their knowledge of Black history and learn about influential figures and moments in African American culture. I also encourage our children to celebrate modern day trailblazers and appreciate their impact on African American culture.
Is there an African American in history who has made a big impact in your life or inspired you?
My own pediatrician, the late Dr. Arthur Burns who served Northeast Ohio for more than 50 years, was part of my inspiration to enter pediatric medicine. He was an excellent physician, and having an African American pediatrician growing up was an encouragement to pursue my dream of becoming a physician and piqued my interest in pediatrics. Dr. Vivian Thomas is another inspiration. His work on the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt for the treatment of tetralogy of Fallot pioneered the field of congenital cardiac surgery, and he is an inspiration to leave an impact in the field of pediatric cardiology.