Providers With Purpose: Bronwyn Smith, PharmD

Q&A with Bronwyn Smith, clinical pharmacist and 2021–2023 HEAL Fellow

HEAL Initiative
Jul 2 · 4 min read

Bronwyn Smith is a 2021–2023 HEAL Fellow from LeChee, Arizona, a mountain city in the northwest corner of the Navajo Reservation. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy at Roseman University of Health Sciences in 2017 and went on to complete a PGY-1 pharmacy residency with Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) in Tuba City, Arizona. Prior to receiving her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering at Arizona State University.

Today, she is clinical pharmacist working at TCRHCC where she serves her Navajo community as a diabetes management provider and works alongside a multidisciplinary team to provide care to patients that come into the health facility.

In July of 2021, Bronwyn, alongside 22 healthcare professionals from around the globe, will begin a 2-year journey as a HEAL Global Health Fellow. Learn more about the HEAL Fellowship and the incredible people in the 2021–2023 HEAL Initiative Cohort, and be sure to follow “Voices on the Frontline” on medium for more stories from our community.

What inspired you to pursue a path in healthcare and in pharmacy?

My aha moment was with my Grandmother, who lived until she was 97 and had different health issues but for many years was able to still herd sheep, carry on and was a very strong woman. She had different medication that she had and didn’t really understand what they were for, but knew that that she needed to take them.

That was my first insight into how pharmacy could be a route for me to help bridge that disconnection that modern medicine and cultural medicine have for my people and do my best to help my native people in that way. As I’ve gotten older, it just became more prevalent to me, and my eyes were opened at that point, knowing that I needed to do something to help my people

My direction towards working in the health care system stemmed really from when I was younger and going in and out of the IHS facilities. Every Native American child has heard our parents say: how long will you be here? They’re asking their primary care providers this because they know that they’re not going to be there for very long. That’s just something that has always stuck with me.

As a health care professional myself now, I want to be here and not have to answer that question and say I’m leaving soon. I’m here to stay and here to help.

As a healthcare professional from Navajo Nation who continues to serve their own community, what keeps you going in the face of adversity and challenge?

As a healthcare professional from Navajo Nation who continues to serve their own community, what keeps me going in the face of adversity and challenges are the relationships I have with my patients and the stories they have shared. They have shown me that when we face any type of adversity, whether it’d be emotional, social, financial, physical, or spiritual, it is helpful to keep some perspective, to keep going and to be resilient.

As a pharmacist, I am given the unique opportunity to have one on one conversations with patients in the clinics that I work in and over the last four years, I have been able to establish great connections. What is so heartwarming to me is the fact that some of them will call me Shíyazhi or Sha’a’wéé which means “my child” or “my baby”. This expression of endearment is a constant reminder to me to maintain a hopeful outlook and continue to work towards closing the gap of the multitude of health inequities on the reservation. Being Navajo myself and being called this by someone I have never met before gives me a sense of community acceptance and magnifies why I am came back to the reservation to help my people.

What encouraged you to join the HEAL fellowship at this point in your career?

What encouraged me to join the HEAL fellowship at this point in my career was through my desire to take the work that I am currently doing to another level and take this opportunity to create a greater positive impact on the world. I was introduced to the program through a colleague who is an alumnus rotating fellow and she was able to give me great insight on the benefits of the program.

I believe HEAL will be the catalyst to my personal and professional growth as a leader. By working alongside a diverse group with different perspectives, this will help take me out of my current comfort zone and reignite a motivation to actively take part in solving health inequity issues around the globe.

Follow our Medium Publication “Voices From the Frontline” to hear more from our community of over 180 Global Health fellows and alumni and their work in promoting health equity in resource denied communities across the world.

Subscribe to the HEAL Initiative Newsletter and stay up to date with our fellowship program that trains and transforms health professionals who are commit to serving the underserved as a lifelong choice.

Voices from the Frontline

Voices on the frontline, from the HEAL community.