The Department of Surgery, UAMS College of Medicine and Arkansas Children’s congratulate Sam Smith, M.D., on his retirement after 28 years of service as Chief of Pediatric General Surgery. The Department of Surgery is pleased to announce the appointment of Sidney Dassinger, M.D., as Chief of Pediatric General Surgery.
Our thanks to Professor Todd Maxson, M.D., for the following tribute to Dr. Smith.
Dr. Samuel D. Smith, a Magnolia native, returned to his native Arkansas in 1992 to lead the Division of Pediatric General Surgery. He immediately began a robust surgical research program and took his first surgical research fellow in 1993. He has subsequently mentored 21 fellows, 10 of which ultimately became pediatric surgeons. Dr. Smith authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications, wrote 17 book chapters and lectured nationally.
In 1993, Dr. Smith also started an ACGME-accredited Pediatric Surgery training program, an accomplishment he would almost certainly consider the most important of his career. At the time of inception, it was one of only 27 programs in North America. Twenty-six current pediatric surgeons trained under his watchful eye. Many of these trainees went on to have thriving academic careers as division chiefs, fellowship directors, and funded researchers; all went on to selflessly serve patients and their families, a trait instilled in them by Dr. Smith.
In addition to his clinical, research, and educational accomplishments, Dr. Smith tirelessly worked to make Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) and UAMS better places. He began the trauma program at ACH and worked closely with the team who started the ECMO program. Additionally, he served in numerous leadership positions including being a member of the ACH Board of Trustees from 1995-1996 and Chief of Staff from 2000-2003. He also served from 2007 to 2008 as the Interim Chair of the UAMS Department of Surgery. Dr. Smith represented both institutions well when he held national leadership positions in The American College of Surgeons, the American Medical Association and the American Board of Surgery.
Over his 28-year career, Dr. Smith impacted the lives of thousands of children and their families; mentored and inspired numerous students, residents and fellows; and built a Division of six surgeons serving both hospitals in the Arkansas Children’s system. His retirement at the end of November 2020 will leave a huge hole in the Arkansas Children’s team that will be hard to fill.
Dr. Smith recruited Dr. Sid Dassinger to ACH in 2007 following his general surgery residency at Vanderbilt and his Pediatric Surgery Fellowship at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital/St Jude Children’s Research Center in Memphis. Dr. Dassinger earned his medical degree at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in 2000. He is a dynamic surgeon with clinical interests in pediatric surgical oncology, congenital anomalies and hepatobiliary disease. Under the tutelage of Dr. Smith, Dr. Dassinger has served as the Pediatric Surgery Fellowship Director for the past two years and is an outstanding educator of young surgeons. He has also been a prolific researcher and intends to expand the research efforts of the division.
The members of the Division of Pediatric Surgery and the UAMS Department of Surgery are enthusiastic about Dr. Dassinger’s leadership.