Medical Profile: Dr. Sullivan Smith

By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor

COOKEVILLE – Long nights, tough cases, and a miles-long resume. When Dr. Sullivan Smith joined the Cookeville Regional Medical Center team more than 30 years ago, he may not have realized at that time just how much of an impact he would have on the patients and staff of CRMC and the medical community at-large. 

Though Smith says he’s looking forward to more free time, now that he has stepped down as the hospital’s emergency department medical director, he continues to wear many hats in support of the local and regional medical community.  

Smith will continue to work clinical shifts and will serve as Chairman Emeritus of the CRMC emergency department. A playful grimace spreads across his face as “Chairman Emeritus” is mentioned out loud; it makes him feel old, he says. 

In March, Smith was elected president of the Tennessee College of Emergency Physicians (TNCEP). He is also a physician with American Physician Partners; assisting with the group’s quality initiatives, including the “Champions for Sepsis” program, the Leadership Academy and EMS and pre-hospital relationships and quality protocols. He’ll also further the company’s ongoing relationship with the American College of Emergency Physicians. He’s chairman of the state EMS board and serves on a variety of other boards and commissions. 

While Smith will continue to be involved with the local and regional medical community to some degree – through classes and public speaking opportunities – he is looking forward to relaxing a little more and spending time with his family, including his five grandchildren. 

“The phone calls and having to come here to solve issues in the middle of the night for 31 years gets a little old and it’s a little hard on your family,” Smith said. 

These days Smith is spending more time teaching instead of treating; teaching a few Emergency Medical Services classes to local high school students. Recent changes to the hospital’s emergency department, in addition to his stepping down from the department’s lead role, mean Smith now has more free time to spend relaxing with his family. When he isn’t on call or teaching a class, Smith can be found on his small farm, spending time with the bees he keeps.

The Casper, Wyo. native found his way to Cookeville when his father, a traveling petroleum geologist, took at job at Tennessee Tech University.

“For his family, he got out of the oil exploration business,” Smith said, noting the substantial amount of time his father spent away at work.

The family put down roots in Cookeville after receiving his medical degree from the University of Tennessee, College of Medicine in 1986 and completing his residency at the University of Tennessee Memorial Hospital. Smith made the decision to join CRMC in 1988. 

“This is home,” he said of Cookeville. “I’ve been here since grade school.” 

Smith and his wife Rhonda have four children, who are each pursuing their own respective paths in the field of medicine, and five grandchildren. 

Amye Anderson is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached at amye@ucbjournal.com.