Staff Spotlight: Randy Smith, MPH

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Clinical trials contain many complicated moving parts. Randy Smith, MPH, a clinical research coordinator who recently joined our department, works to make these parts move as smoothly as possible for a post-stroke recovery clinical trial. For this week’s “Spotlight” interview, Smith tells us how she got to Duke, how her previous experience as a dietician influences her current job and enjoys tennis, knitting and volunteering for Meals on Wheels when she is not. is not in Duke.

What are your current responsibilities within the ministry? What does a typical day look like for you?
I will coordinate all study activities for Duke as a site for a stroke recovery clinical trial. I am still learning the day-to-day responsibilities as I train for this new role, but have already had the opportunity to engage directly with study participants. I think my day will be to keep the many moving parts of trial management running as smoothly as possible.

How did you decide to come to the neurology department?
I first became interested in clinical research while working for a clinical trial twinning company a few years ago. Even after returning to the nutrition field, I couldn’t help but think of exploring a position where I could support research. Thanks to a good friend, I was able to connect with Denise Snyder at DOCR. She was kind enough to put me in touch with the CRU of Neurology, and here I am!

What were you doing before you came to Duke? How does this experience compare to your current job as a Clinical Research Coordinator?
I am a registered dietitian and worked at the Carol Woods Retirement Community, helping residents manage their nutritional needs and overall nutritional health. I believe my interest and passion for helping others achieve their health goals and improve their quality of life fuel my work as a CRC. I am excited to be part of a larger effort to find new ways to improve the lives of others through research developments.

Before coming to Duke, you studied nutrition at UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Public Health. What was the objective of your study there? How does this experience influence your current job (or your personal life)?
At Gillings, I focused 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. It has influenced the way I approach my own health and that of my family, and I am always happy when I can share information that can help others.

What practical advice has helped you improve your own eating habits that you would like to share?
When shopping, focus on the perimeter of the store; this way you know you are choosing the “cleanest” and least processed foods.

What other passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I love 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 volunteer with the Meals on Wheels and Guardian ad Litem in County Durham. I am currently learning to knit, which I have to admit has not been easy!

Smith poses with his family during his son’s high school graduation ceremony a year ago.



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