On April 10, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2015 Community Heroes Awards to recognize the unsung heroes in our community whose actions, thoughts and words have had a transformative power in our region. Our heroes, who represent each of the seven departments and four centers within our college, put others before themselves to genuinely make a difference for the residents of our region. All month long, we will be highlighting our 11 honorees in our Community Heroes Series.

Smith.Paul001Name: Paul Smith, PT

Occupation: Staff Physical Therapist II and Center Coordinator of Clinical Education Acute Care Rehabilitation Services at Community Regional Medical Center, Fresno

Nominated by: Department of Physical Therapy

When passion and excellence collide together as a driving force, the end result is the extraordinary work of Paul Smith. For over 20 years, he has been a physical therapist serving the San Joaquin Valley, but his true passion for the profession is evident by the fact that he returned to school two decades after receiving his master’s degree in Physical Therapy. He is now enrolled at the University of Montana in their Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and will obtain his doctorate degree in May 2015.

Since receiving his master’s degree from Fresno State in 1995, Smith has led a long and admirable career, serving his community and advocating for the physical therapy profession on both a local, state and national levels.

His physical therapy career began at Valley Medical Center of Fresno, and later transitioned to University Medical Center and then to Fresno’s Community Regional Medical Center, where he now works. Since the start of his career, he has proven himself as an outstanding clinician with specialties in acute and critical care.

Always having an interest in education, Smith not only was instrumental in educating patients and interns, but took on the role as center coordinator for clinical education and then became the Valley clinical representative for the Northern California Clinical Education Consortium.

As his skills progressed, he assumed responsibilities as a senior therapist and took a prominent role in mentoring and arranging affiliations for many students. Schools throughout the country, including Fresno State, have been able to depend on Smith to assist with the clinical education of students, from various backgrounds and with different strengths and needs.

Smith is credited for recruiting many professionals to the Central Valley, including several of his past students who are now current practicing clinicians in our valley. He has been an adamant supporter of Fresno State’s Physical Therapy Program, and through the years, has supported the program through his professional expertise and financial generosity.

His ever present support of the program includes serving as an adjunct lecturer in multiple capacities. He also has a unique expertise much sought after and valued within the physical therapy academia, including human anatomical dissection, advanced cardiopulmonary treatment, and management of acute and critical care patients.

As a staunch supporter of the physical therapy community, Smith can always be counted on to provide education to a variety of groups including not only physical therapy students, but also the general public, medical institutions and interdisciplinary colleagues.

His expertise is highly recognized by his colleagues at both the local and state levels, where he assumes roles as a political activist and elected leader. He has served in numerous elected positions for the San Joaquin Valley District over the past 16 years and more recently as a director of the California Physical Therapy Association. While completing his term on the State Association’s Board of Directors he was elected to serve a second term as their vice-president beginning in January 2015. In addition to his involvement at the State level he has served as a California Delegate to the American Physical Therapy Associations House of Delegates which is the association’s highest governing body.

When he’s not in the clinic, Smith can be found at the state capitol, where he has been a key fixture regularly speaking and interacting with assemblymen and senators. He remains one of the physical therapy profession’s most committed protectors of scope of practice as well as issues advancing the field.

Among Smith’s other passions, beyond the physical therapy profession, is his involvement with the Sequoia Council Boy Scouts of America, where he currently serves as a trained leader and committee chair of Troop 35. Through his leadership and foresight, he helps boys and young men to build character, develop citizenship and instill the importance of service.

Through it all, Smith continues to be a key driving force in promoting the profession of physical therapy in the Valley. He has, and continues to be, admired for his commitment to the field of physical therapy and beyond. He does all of this for one core reason – for the good and the well-being of every individual he has and will continue to serve.


 The 2015 Community Heroes Awards will be held on April 10, 2015 at Fresno State. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at 559.278.3603 or bwilkinson@csufresno.edu or click here.