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Staff Spotlight: Randy Smith, MPH

Friday, June 25, 2021
R Smith

Clinical trials contain many complicated moving parts. Randy Smith, MPH, a clinical research coordinator who recently joined our Department, is working to make these parts move as smoothly as possible for a post-stroke recovery clinical trial. For this week’s “Spotlight” interview, Smith talks to us about how she came to Duke, how her previous experience as a dietitian influences her current work, and enjoying tennis, knitting, and volunteering for Meals on Wheels when she’s not at Duke.

What are your current responsibilities within the Department? What does a typical day look like for you?
I will be coordinating all of the study activities for Duke as a site for a post-stroke recovery clinical trial. I am still learning the day to day responsibilities as I train in this new role, but I have already had the opportunity to engage directly with study participants. I expect my days will involve ensuring that the many moving parts of trial management work as smoothly as possible.

How did you decide to come to the Neurology Department?
I became interested in moving into the clinical research arena while working for a clinical trials matching company a couple of years ago. Even after I stepped back into the nutrition field, I couldn’t stop thinking about exploring a position in which I could support research. Through a good friend, I was able to connect with Denise Snyder at DOCR. She was kind enough to put me in touch with the Neurology CRU, and here I am!

What were you doing before you came to Duke? How does that experience compare to your current work as a clinical research coordinator? 
I am a registered dietitian and was working at Carol Woods Retirement Community, supporting residents in the management of their nutrition needs and overall nutritional health. I believe my interest in and passion for helping others attain their health goals and improve their quality of life feed into my work as a CRC. I am excited to be a small part of a larger effort to find new ways to enhance others’ lives through research developments.

Before coming to Duke you studied nutrition at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Public Health. What was the focus of your study there? How does that experience inform your current work (or personal life)?
My focus at Gillings was on nutrition education and health behavior. I began to view nutrition and diet as important factors in disease prevention as well as chronic disease management. This has informed how I approach my own health and that of my family, and I am always happy when I can share information that may help others.

What’s one practical tip that’s helped you improve your own eating habits that you’d like to share?
When grocery shopping, focus on the perimeter of the store; that way you know you are choosing the “cleanest,” least-processed foods.

What other passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department? 
I enjoy tennis and try to play at least 3 times a week. I love to explore hiking trails, take long walks with my dog, play cards, and travel. I am a Meals on Wheels volunteer and a Guardian ad Litem in Durham county. I am currently learning to knit, which, I have to admit, has not been easy!

R Smith
Smith poses with her family during her son's high-school graduation, one year ago.