Esophageal and Airway Treatment Program

Father’s Day Highlight: Life of a Local Dad and Doctor

Father’s Day is a time to celebrate and highlight all the amazing dads in the community. Jason Smithers, M.D., and his family moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2019 for a unique opportunity to lead Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital’s Esophageal and Airway Treatment (EAT) Program. He shares what led him to becoming a doctor and how he spends his time as a local dad.

What do you do at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital?

Jason Smithers, M.D.: I am a pediatric surgeon who specializes in operative and long-term management of esophageal and airway anomalies, both congenital and acquired, and am director of our Esophageal and Airway Treatment Service (EATS) program. I moved here to work as a surgeon and critical care physician as part of the Center for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), which already offered patients phenomenal results. Given my focused expertise with a previous EAT program, I’ve been building this new program here as well.

What is your typical day like? 

Jason Smithers, M.D.: I start the day with rounds in the CDH ICU, and Dr. Kays and I game plan for the day along with the rest of the CDH team regarding any procedures, newborn deliveries or other clinical items that will be going on that day. I then round throughout the hospital for patients on the EAT service and collaborate with the various ICUs where these patients are recovering including the PICU, CVICU and NICU. I often then have OR procedures throughout the day for patients in these programs.

What personal qualities do you possess that help you to excel in your area of expertise?

Jason Smithers, M.D.: Primarily attention to detail and determination to strive for the most perfect results possible, even for problems that don’t necessarily have well defined techniques to solve them. Constant review of the precise problems, the current techniques and the short- and long-term outcomes lead to ongoing improvements in our approach to all aspects of care for these patients.

What made you choose medicine?

Jason Smithers, M.D.: As early as junior high school, I was committed to going to medical school with the goal of becoming a surgeon. My stepfather was a surgical assistant (PA) in Detroit at the time. I already knew that I loved science; I loved his stories about surgical procedures; and I knew I wanted a career centered on helping others. It has worked out to be the perfect fit. As I went through medical school, loving both pediatrics and surgery, then pediatric surgery became the obvious goal for me. As I went through surgical training, I’ve always been drawn to treating problems that were difficult and for which consistent good outcomes were elusive.

What does a “day off” look like for you? 

Jason Smithers, M.D.: Playing with my kids and doing whatever helps support my wife, Jess.

What would surprise people to know about you? 

Jason Smithers, M.D.: I love surfing, snowboarding, motorcycles and skydiving, most of which Jess is not a big fan of!

Tell us about your pets.

Jason Smithers, M.D.: We have a toy golden doodle named Rosie, our “third child” following Emma (10) and Ben (8).  She pretty much goes wherever we go as a family and gets serious separation anxiety if Jess isn’t within touching distance.

*Presented by Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital | Originally published in June 2022