Alumni, here’s a great way to give back

DMU alumnus Dr. Robert Smith, right, with Dr. Donald Matz, chair of the anatomy department

“Never stop learning.” This important message was among the many takeaways that Robert G. Smith, D.P.M.’99, M.Sc., R.Ph., C.Ped., CPRS, shared with Des Moines University students during a two-day campus visit in December. The alumnus lives by that rule; he is especially driven to share this vision with future alumni. That’s how he demonstrated a great way for alumni to “give back” to DMU – by sharing expertise and advice with students.

In addition to his practice in Florida, the pharmacist-slash-podiatrist has served on pharmacy and podiatry missions for American military forces through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense. While on missions in Iraq, Smith treated a wide range of lower-limb issues and also began to investigate the negative effects of energy drinks and work-out supplements among soldiers who use them, especially those also taking prescription medications. This was the topic of a grand rounds presentation he gave on campus Dec. 1.

“I’m a chemistry guy,” he told his audience. “I love podiatry and medicine, but when I see a problem, I break it down to chemicals and molecules.”

Smith, who has published nearly 70 papers on various medical topics, also spoke to a group of DMU podiatric medical students on Nov. 30. He encouraged them to view their profession as one that “treats the whole body.”

“My agenda is to get people to see podiatry not as a consult, but as the first tier,” he said. “I want us to be the physicians they think of first.”

Smith’s presentations represented a partnership between the DMU Continuing Medical Education (CME) Office and Alumni Relations.

“The enthusiasm and interest among our students regarding Dr. Smith’s presentations underscore the importance of having alumni return to campus. The students enjoy learning from people who once sat in the same seats they’re now sitting in,” said CME Director Vanessa Ross, M.H.A.’15, CMP, CHCP.

DMU students signed a thank-you note for Dr. Smith.

After his presentation at grand rounds, Smith spent the morning at the DMU Library researching articles for a paper he’s working to get published in a national journal. In the afternoon, he attended the DMU Research Symposium, where a record number of 72 students, faculty and residents presented their research.

Bringing alumni back to campus offers invaluable experiences for both current students and the visiting graduates. Each individual has the potential to influence and be influenced by others in the process. Alumni are great role models who can offer a personal connection, practical support and useful feedback to students as they navigate through medical school into their own practices. Students seeking support and advice on career matters can benefit from connecting with alumni, whether they are recent graduates or well established in a particular specialty. Alumni “give back” to DMU through their support of students, contributing to a positive experience and increased competency for all involved.

If you are willing to share your knowledge and/or experiences with DMU students, please contact the DMU CME Office at or Alumni Relations at, and we will gladly work with you to plan your visit to campus.

Scroll to Top