Article from Natural Awakenings Jan 2022: Treating Patients Like Family

For Elizabeth Smith, board certified advanced practice family nurse practitioner and founder/owner of Integrative Direct Primary Care, in Naples, applying advice that she offered her patients about living a life of balance became a necessity when she developed personal health issues. Juggling a career with marriage and three young children aged 10 months, 5 years and 7 years required a hectic schedule of rising daily at 4 a.m., caring for children, seeing patients at the office and working late hours.

Smith admits that the decision to leave a successful practice to establish one of her own was hard, but some of the health benefits she experienced made it worthwhile. “When I wasn’t so off-balance, the headache that had troubled me for four consecutive months vanished. I realized stress had caused it. Now I have more time to manage my own health,” says Smith, whose exceptionally well-rounded and diverse background in nursing makes her an asset to the patient partnership that she encourages and nurtures.

“I began as a nurse’s aide in 2000, making home and hospital visits, as well as working at a facility for the residential care of elderly and disabled individuals prior to enrolling in nursing school at in 2001. After graduating in 2003, I worked as a registered nurse on the medical surgical floor, in hospice and doing home hospice visits. While I was going to school for my bachelor’s degree, a mentor suggested that I enroll in graduate school at Wright State University and get my Master of Science degree so I could become a nurse practitioner. I took the advice, got my degree in 2008 and have practiced since as a family nurse practitioner in urgent care and primary care in a hospital setting,” explains Smith.

She still continues her education in a functional medicine program. “While I’ve felt fulfilled, I didn’t feel balanced, which is what I believe I can finally have in my own practice. Now, when I’m talking to my patients about all the aspects that make up health, such as adequate sleep, healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and minimal stress, I’ll be walking my talk,” she says.

Smith’s direct primary care practice is focused on integrative care, a whole-person, quality patient-centered approach. “I’ll be directly contracting with patients for care and can use integrative therapies that work with a patient’s natural physiology to encourage healing. I can refer out for modalities such as acupuncture, massage and chiropractic. Sometimes it’s what someone needs,” says Smith, who prefers to meet people where they are and guide them in taking care of their overall health by working with them to determine what they want to achieve.

“Sometimes life circumstances force people to choose between healthcare and groceries or rent. My mom didn’t have health insurance, and she didn’t get her pap test regularly. At age 60 she died of cervical cancer.” The native Ohioan says, “We’re all shaped by our experiences. I’m living out what she taught me. Life is short, and I want to spend time with my patients without feeling rushed, so they can be listened to and I can treat them like I would my mom.”

Integrative Direct Primary Care is located at 2590 Northbrooke Plaza Dr., Ste. 106, in Naples. For more information, call 239-350-4900 or visit

See article: Natural Awakenings

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