Amy Joy Smith, Nurse Practitioner
Amy Joy Smith is a nurse practitioner specializing in functional medicine at Open Medicine Institute in Mountain View, California. She is a renowned pioneer in the PANDAS front who does not limit her work to PANS/PANDAS cases and takes a holistic approach to medicine with experience as a clinical nutritionist. She is also the mother of an amazing child with PANDAS and a dedicated PANDAS awareness advocate.
As a PANDAS parent, Amy understands what it’s like to have your child just slip away one day and have no idea why, to go from doctor to doctor to doctor without answers, to live in a dark place with your sick child, and to lose everything to PANDAS. Even after all of that, her son, now 20, is a junior in college with a full merit scholarship and a great life ahead of him. She believes that potentially each and every child can heal from PANDAS/PANS with the right information and a huge integrative toolkit.
Amy believes that every aspect of her personal and professional background has led her to this most clinically complex, professionally challenging and humbling work–that of supporting children with PANDAS/PANS and their families, as well as those with Lyme-based infections and other immune illnesses. She puts everything she has into each patient’s process and is thoroughly committed to seeing an end to the pathetic gap in the diagnosis and proper medical care of children with PANDAS and their families.
Amy serves on the PANDASNetwork.org board of directors and was the lead organizer of the West Coast PANDAS/PANS Parent Symposiums in 2012 and 2014. She has spoken at a number of conferences and trainings around the country. Like many providers that see children with PANDAS/PANS, Amy works with patients from around the world.
Having been both the mother of a victim of a long-lasting and oftentimes severe case of PANDAS and a provider since before much was known about the illness, Amy is comfortable interacting with the familial breakdown and personal isolation that stems from it. She takes extra time to address the mental and emotional wellbeing of not only her patients but those affected by them. She makes it clear that people do not have to explain their mental or emotional states to her or worry that she will judge them or think they're crazy as many providers less equipped to deal with it often do. Amy knows she never would've personally made it through her own son's illness on an emotional level without the support of other parents just like her. She is honored to be able to give back to these families by helping their children get well.
Known as the ultimate team player, Amy works in tandem with other PANDAS providers around the country and takes the time to reach out to and consult with non-PANS/PANDAS providers who want to learn more about it.
Those who know Amy can see that she assumes a very high level of responsibility for more than just her direct patients. Although she does have patients in 20 states and seven countries, she takes time out of her incredibly busy life of caring for others to do just that. For instance, Amy reaches out to connect with other parents through social media and blogging. From time to time, she travels to other practices to meet with and train other providers who are entering the realm of PANDAS. She frequently communicates and works with schools to help them provide the most appropriate services and accommodations to her patients who need them, and last year gave an in-depth training to over 200 school nurses on the east coast on how to identify and support students who may have PANDAS.
Amy has practiced functional and nutritional medicine since the early 1980s and has studied with a number of pioneers in the field. She attended Syracuse University School of Nursing, where she received her BSN in Maternal-Child Nursing, and all of her acute care and hospital experience is in pediatrics. While currently, she is working with patients of all ages, Amy has a passion for working with children and teens. At the University of Minnesota, she was a Fellow in the World Health Organization’s renowned Adolescent Health Training Program Medical School, and in addition to being a nurse practitioner, has a master’s degree in Adolescent Health with a focus on Youth Development and Community Health. She loves educating patients and families and has extensive experience in community education and program development for families as well as vulnerable youth populations.
Amy is passionate about organizing to change public awareness and social policy so people live better lives on every front. She is on the board of directors of PANDASNetwork.org, a parent-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting PANDAS awareness, research and advocacy.