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Dr. Elisabeth C. (Betty) Small M.D.

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Dr.  Elisabeth C. (Betty) Small M.D. Obituary
Elisabeth (Betty) C. Small, M.D.

July 11, 1934

July 30, 2013

Dr. Elisabeth Small died in Reno on July 30, 2013.of the consequences of Mesothelioma, a lung malignancy caused by asbestos. She was born on July 11, 1934 in the German Legation in Beijing, China to Professor Stanley H. Chan, then on the political science faculty at Beijing National University and Lily Luella (Lum) Chan, a third generation Californian. As a consequence, Betty, as she is known by many, had three nationalities: German, Chinese and American. She ultimately chose the American nationality when she turned 18. At the outset of the Sino-Chinese War in 1937, the family which now included a younger sister, Adora Kay, returned to the maternal home in California, where Betty was raised and attended public and parochial schools. Ultimately, she graduated from UCLA with a BA in Political Science in 1955, and received her MD from UCLA School of Medicine in 1960.

She and her classmate/husband, Donald M. Small, M.D. moved directly to Boston for post-graduate training. She completed a rotating internship at Newton Wellesley Hospital (where Donald had been born) and subsequently served as Asst. Director for Venereal Diseases in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health from 1961-63.

Because of her husband's appointment to the Pasteur Institute, she, her husband and son, Geoffrey lived in Paris for two years and another son, Philip was born there.

Upon return to the U.S., she entered residency in psychiatry in 1965 and spent a year at the Boston State Hospital (which no longer exists) and completed residency in the Tufts University program in 1969. She continued on the faculty at Tufts and developed the first consultation/liaison psychiatry program in which a psychiatrist (herself) was a full time staff/faculty member of a department outside of psychiatry, which was in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She had formerly also served as a consultant to the Renal Dialysis and the Gastroenterology Departments at the Tufts New England Medical Center. Her work in integrating the psychological effects of medical/surgical illness resulted in her development of a fellowship training program in consultation/liaison psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts. In 1982, she joined the faculty at the School of Medicine at the University of Nevada Reno where she retired as professor emerita in 1995.

Her varied clinical experiences included private practice and the position of Chief of Psychiatry at the Reno VA Medical Center (1989-1994) which focused on PTSD, drug and alcohol disorders and development of a wellness program for veterans. She also worked in the Nevada Rural Mental Health Clinics and as a locum tenens physician in Maine and Arizona. She developed a wellness program at the Sparks Family Hospital (now Northern Nevada Medical Center) and at St. Mary's Hospital in the 1980s.

She had written numerous professional journal articles and chapters in textbooks and served on editorial boards for medical textbooks. She had served as a reviewer for the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Hospital and Community Psychiatry. She was a member of the external peer review program for the National Institute of Mental Health, was a consultant to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. She was a receiver of a scholarship to the Immaculate Heart College of Los Angeles; was a Myra Hershey Scholar at UCLA and a fellow of the Radcliffe Institute. She was an emeritus fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists, and has served on numerous committees of the College, the American Psychiatric Association, The Association for Academic Psychiatry and the Nevada Psychiatric Association.

She had two marriages: to Dr. Donald M. Small at Oxford, England (1957-80); to Sydney H. Robinson at Virginia City, Nevada (1991-2000). She had lived in England, France, and Italy and travelled extensively in Europe over a lifetime. Her passion outside of medicine was directed at her family of two sons, Geoffrey Brooks Small and Philip Willard Stanley Small and grandchildren, Hugo, Lily, Riley and Elmo. Other interests include Western European history, with emphasis on the Napoleonic Era, European literature, music and jazz history, art and sports (skiing, in particular) and culinary arts. At the end of her life, she enjoyed activity with the Sparks Rotary Club and service on the Advisory Board of the Reno Salvation Army. The important features of her interest were in the areas of improving health, the environment and education.

She was always grateful for the opportunity for varied experiences and for the kindness and caring of many true friends. She was grateful for a loving and close relationship with her children and the Small family members.

She happily left the current world for another adventure. Do not send flowers. Please support the elements of good health, clean environment and high standards of education in her memory.


Published in Reno Gazette-Journal from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4, 2013
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