Philip Health Services welcomes new Physician Assistant Audrey Smeenk to their staff
There’s a new face at Philip Health Services! Audrey Smeenk is the newest Physician Assistant (PA) to join the PHSI team of providers. She is married and has a three-year old daughter, Addley, who Smeenk says is just like her. “She’s sassy and independent,” she said. Smeenk grew up in Martin, SD and her rural health rotations during college brought her to Philip. She shadowed Dr. Klopper for 28 weeks last year and loved how welcoming the community was. Smeenk knew she wanted to return to Philip and even Dr. Klopper asked her regularly when she would be coming back. She has plans to move to Philip, as soon as they can find housing. “I hope to be very active in the community, making this home,” she said.
Smeenk says the medical field runs in her blood. After all her mother is also a PA and she grew up around the medical field. She is the daughter of Diane Weber, one of PHSI’s current providers who alternates between Philip and Rapid City. After high school, Smeenk went to the University of South Dakota for nursing. She then continued her studies, obtaining her Master of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of North Dakota, just like her mom did. “I’ve always been two steps behind my mother,” she joked.
Smeenk loves to watch patients grow and enjoys being a part of patients’ lives. Being able to see them grow from the pediatric stage to the geriatric stage and everywhere in between, is one of her favorite aspects of the medical field. “Being able to go through life’s changes with families,” she said. Another favored aspect is serving people, with a special interest in children and young adults. One project she worked on while in college was based on adolescent mental health and it sparked a love and interest in helping patients navigate life’s hardships. “Life is hard. These periods can be some of the hardest,” she said. “They need guidance and we can be so much more than a doctor,” she added. Another area of healthcare she really enjoys is women’s health. Whether puberty, post-menopausal and everywhere in between, she knows her stuff. And in a location that doesn’t have many female providers, Smeenk has been a welcomed addition.
The most challenging aspect is one Smeenk didn’t quite realize would be a challenge, but is a welcomed one. She loves the fast-paced, adrenaline pumping aspects of emergency care and has had to take a few steps back transitioning to rural, clinical healthcare. “I am used to critical care and did flight nursing for a while,” she said. “I’m like a bull in a china shop, in a helpful way,” she added, laughing. She enjoys the ability to have more family time as well, focusing on raising her daughter.
Smeenk says she spends as much time outdoors as she can, whether that is hiking or biking, and anything on a lake. “That’s where I find my zen,” she said. In winter, she tries to stay active through snowboarding. Another one of her hobbies is reading. “Now that I have more time to read something other than a textbook,” she laughed.