Dr. Filiz Smith is the newest member of the UNHS medical staff at the Montezuma Creek Clinic, but as someone once said, it's not where you end up, it's how you got there that counts.
In Dr. Smith's case, as is the case with many of the providers working for UNHS, the how is a lot more interesting then the where. In fact, Dr. Smith's life story reads like an old Warner Bros. travelogue from the 1930's, when travelogues were most popular.
She was born in Turkey, but her parents moved to the United States when she was two-years-old, and settled in Kentucky. When she was in elementary school her family lived in the Boston, Massachusetts area. By the time she was in junior high and high school she lived on Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelors Degree in English Literature at Colgate University, in Hamilton, New York. She did her pre-medical studies, and got a Bachelors Degree in Biology, from the University of California Santa Cruz. She attended medical school at George Washington University in Washington D.C. After medical school she served a residency at Maine Dartmouth Family Practice, in Augusta, Maine.
Dr. Smith's travels across America continued to Hudson, Florida, a town just north of Tampa, Florida, where she owned her own practice for twelve years. That worked well, until she was chased by a 14-foot alligator in front her house, and was almost bitten by a rattlesnake.
"Alligators can't go around corners very well, and I ran around a corner," she said. "They just grow there… like oranges," Dr. Smith added, talking about the alligators and snakes she found in her yard and others found in their pools.
She eventually tired of those kinds of close encounters, sold her practice and moved to Chinle, Arizona to practice for one year. After that, she moved to Tuba City, Arizona and practiced at a clinic there for five years, before deciding to take a position with UNHS in Montezuma Creek.
"I had always wanted to come out to the reservation ever since I took a trip across the country," Smith explained. "I just fell in love with this area."
Dr. Smith is married to an artist, named Joseph Smith, Jr. from the Black Mesa/ Shonto, Arizona area. Joseph is a painter, who enjoys portrait painting. His work is displayed at the Blue Mountain Artisans, in Blanding. While living in Tuba City, she met her husband in, of all places, a Buffalo Wild Wings in Flag- staff, Arizona.
"I was having lunch there one day with his cousin, and he happened to be there. Well, he ended up joining us and that was the end of the story," she explained. "His cousin was my neighbor in the hospital housing and he was helping me bring my horse trailer down to Flagstaff for a repair. And as a thank you I took him out to lunch."
Dr. Smith said she and her husband love Blanding, and they've purchased some land north of town, where they will have a home and keep their horses.
"I just feel very safe in Blanding. It's very peaceful. Everybody's friendly. It's just like the perfect little town," she said.
So, after all her travels across the United States, Dr. Smith seems to have finally found a place she can call home. She said she and her husband plan to stay in Blanding and enjoy their new life. She loves her work and her new home.
"You ever watch the movie 'It's a Wonderful Life'? It's just like that (Bedford Falls). I love it here," she said.
And we're glad your travels have brought here, Dr. Smith. There's no place like home.