Helen L. Smits, MD, MACP

Class: 1954Inducted: 2016

Dr. Helen Smits was the first girl to win the physics medal at APHS; she followed up that distinction by becoming the first woman chief resident at the University of Pennsylvania and, later, the first woman chair of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. She is a board certified internist and a master of the American College of Physicians. She graduated from Swarthmore College with Highest Honors and from the Yale School of Medicine cum laude.

Dr. Smits’ career includes a number of administrative positions; she is particularly proud of having served at CMS (then known as HCFA) twice: in the Carter Administration as head of the Health Standards and Quality Bureau and in the first Clinton term as Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer. She also takes great pride in her post-retirement work which included teaching Public Health at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo Mozambique and working, through the Clinton Foundation, to support the Mozambican government’s development of a successful plan for AIDS treatment.

She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has served on a number of professional boards and committees including the Academy’s studies of systems modernization for CMS as well as their evaluation of PEPFAR. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters. She was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009.

Dr. Smits is married to Roger LeCompte; they have one son, Theo and a two year old grandson, Ted.

Her quote is from Robert Kennedy and reflects some of the challenges she faced as a woman in male-dominated fields:"Don’t get mad, get even."