Certificant Profile – Deborah (Deb) H. Smith

Deborah (Deb) H. Smith, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP BD+C
Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare Green Belt
Associate Principal, Director of the Tampa Office
Flad Architects
Tampa, Florida

How has ACHA certification enhanced your career in healthcare architecture and/or design?
ACHA certification demonstrates to our clients that I am knowledgeable in healthcare design and that they are working with someone that has gone the extra mile to get certified in a field I am passionate about.  Since I became ACHA certified, I have had the opportunity to be on the ACHA Exam Committee.  That opportunity, as well as the Summer Leadership Summit, has allowed me to collaborate with other ACHA-certified architects.  I always come away with additional knowledge and insight that helps me stay on top of key aspects in the industry.

What would you say to anyone interested in the field?
Healthcare is something that everyone has experienced.  I am passionate about using my talents to help design facilities that promote health and well-being.  The built environment significantly impacts the patient, staff, and visitor experience and improves health outcomes.  I find healthcare design very rewarding when I can see how a project has improved care and outcomes.

What led you to becoming ACHA certified?
When I was Director of Planning at a major academic medical center, local certified ACHA individuals approached me about the importance of ACHA certification in our design team selections.  Having worked with some architectural firms that I felt lacked the knowledge and insight into current healthcare trends, I realized how ACHA certification helped confirm an individual’s knowledge level. When I returned to the consultant side, I determined that I wanted to get ACHA certified to demonstrate my competency, experience, and knowledge of healthcare design and planning.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you personally or your practice?
Personally, COVID-19 has made me realize how many things I took for granted.  Practice-wise, Flad is seeing a blend between our Healthcare and our Science and Technology work.  We have adapted to remote work and Zoom meetings with clients and even for AHJ inspections.  We are, on a daily basis, looking at how we can serve our clients and modify our current design thinking to create safer environments and prepare our clients for any future pandemics.

About You

Education: Bachelor of Science in Design and Master of Architecture focused on Health Care Planning & Design from Clemson University

Bio and interests
At the age of 10, I decided I wanted to be an architect while watching the Brady Bunch.  Prior to that I had wanted to be a nurse, until I found I didn’t like the sight of blood.   I started taking some healthcare programming classes in undergraduate school.  This merged my architectural and medical interests, and for the past 30 years, I have been hooked on healthcare design.  I have worked both on the client side and the consultant side and find each equally challenging and rewarding.

Currently I am the chair of the ACHA Exam Committee which I have been involved with for five years.   I am also a member of the FGI Health Guideline Revision Committee (2018 & 2022).  While I lived in Baltimore, I started the local chapter of the Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH) and have more recently served as Chair of the AAH Articles & Blogs Committee.