Mervyn Smith was a scholarship winner to Prince Alfred College. He initially trained as a pharmacist at the University of Adelaide before transferring to medicine. He served as a medical officer in the Australian Army with the occupying forces in Japan at the end of the Second World War.
Mervyn Smith was a surgeon at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where he began as an honorary surgeon in 1956, with bowel surgery his speciality. At the peak of his career, Smith took two civilian medical teams to operate hospitals in the town of Bien Hoa, north east of Saigon in Vietnam.
Mervyn Smith is emphatic in that he enjoyed all aspects of his career in medicine and loved every minute of his work. His professional dedication and commitment to others saw him elected President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and head of the Grand Bailiwick of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, Australia. He also served as Chairman of Red Cross SA, and for 30 years on the Council of the University of Adelaide, serving as Deputy Chancellor from 1994 to 1997.