Primary Care Physician Keeps Family Front and Center


Talk with Susanna Shermer, M.D., for just one minute, and you will immediately feel better. The family practice physician who works at CHI St. Vincent Primary Care in Midtowne and the medical director of Grow Learning Center, Dr. Shermer comes from a familial line of doctors and continues the tradition of personal care with her patients and community.

A new mom and avid renovator of antique homes, Dr. Shermer keeps what is most important her top priority: the health and well-being of the ones she loves, including her patients.

Q: Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up?

A: I was born in Fayetteville but grew up in Russellville. I graduated from Hendrix College in Conway then attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Last year, my son Hudson came into my life, and it changed dramatically. He is a handful, my priority and the love of my life. He smiles all the time. I never really had the baby bug, but now I can’t imagine my life without him.

Q: What inspired you to become a physician?

A: My grandfather was a family physician in Fort Smith, and he used to take me with him to his practice. I saw how much he loved what he did – delivering babies and watching them grow up and have families of their own. His patients are his friends, and I think that’s why he enjoyed is practice so much. He got to see his friends every day. He retired in his 80s (he’s 93 now), and he still sees people he treated when he practiced, and they are still friends after all these years. I wanted to be a part of something just like that.

Q: Why did you choose primary care as your specialty?

A: The most fulfilling aspect of my job is when a patient takes my advice and makes a change to his or her lifestyle that improves their overall quality of life. If I can help them figure out a way to better manage their health – and it doesn’t have to be big life changes – I feel like we have made their lives better together. Small things help. In fact, small changes saved my mom’s life so I’m a big believer in changing one thing at a time – stop smoking, eat more vegetables, start walking every day, consult a counselor about stress and anxiety. These things can make a world of difference now, but especially in the long run.

Q: How did you become involved with Grow Learning Center?

A: My best friend, Jane Prince, is the owner of Grow, and she asked me if I could help with medical consults. When I went in and saw the work that the center does, I told her to sign me up. Grow helps children up to the age of 5 with developmental delays, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. When they graduate from Grow, they are absolutely thriving, and to see a child who had a delay when he or she came into the center and leave at their absolute best is profound.

Q: You also do medical consulting with the Bridgeway for all patients. What is that like?

A: Mental health is just as important as physical health, and I think the small change approach to our bodies works with our minds, too. People need to know it’s not a weakness if they deal with depression or psychosis. There are things that can help, and they should seek those out and not be ashamed.

Dr. Shermer can be reached at CHI St. Vincent Primary Care Clinic.

This post is a collaboration with AY Magazine.