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Dr. Sharon Smaga Named IRHA Physician of Excellence

October 17, 2017

The Illinois Rural Health Association selected Sharon Smaga, MD, professor of family medicine in Carbondale, to receive a 2017 Physician of Excellence Award. The award is presented to doctors who have made a significant impact on the health of communities and shown dedication toward improving access to care in medically underserved areas of the state.

Dr. SmagaDr. Smaga retired from full-time service this summer at SIU Carbondale Family Medicine. She joined the SIU faculty in August of 1987. During her years of service, she has provided care for tens of thousands of patients and helped establish the Memory and Geriatric Assessment Clinic at SIU Family Medicine Center, which serves more than 300 patients and caregivers across southern Illinois.

A native of Harvey, a south suburb of Chicago, Dr. Smaga says she chose family medicine “because I like taking care of the whole person, and I got to treat the whole family—from the infants to the grandparents.”

She remembers many of the babies she delivered, since “they were usually happy times. One night I had to bring my infant son with me to the hospital for a delivery. The mother had a large group of family members present, so they watched my son while I delivered the baby.”

Dr. Smaga says she has enjoyed the people she has worked beside over the years and the variety of patient problems she’s encountered, as well as performing outpatient procedures to put patients on the road back to health. In addition, she says “teaching history and physical exam skills to first-year students was very rewarding.” 

Her efforts to refine the evaluation and management of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and to improve women’s health and foster community efforts toward preventive health have added incalculable value to the quality of life for many in southern Illinois. The Rural Health Association’s award is a capstone to an exemplary career of clinical care, teaching and leadership.