NEW HYDE PARK, NY – North Shore-LIJ Health System vice president of nursing education Elaine L. Smith was selected as one of this year’s six national winners of the 2012 Nursing Excellence Awards. She received this designation in the area of education and mentorship.
“This is one of the highlights of my professional career,” said Dr. Smith, BSN, MSN, MBA, EdD. “This is the area of nursing that I have dedicated 25 years of my over 35-year career to. I’m profoundly grateful to receive this recognition.”
For the Nurse.com excellence awards, sponsored by The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future and the University of Phoenix College of Nursing, nominations are made by the nurse’s colleagues and the final winner is selected from a pool of regional winners by the Nurse.com National Advisory Board. There are winners in each of the six categories. There were more than 1,000 nominations for this distinction, according to Eileen Williamson, senior vice president and chief nurse executive of Nurse.com. “As you can see from the numbers, it’s an amazing honor,” she said at an award ceremony held recently on the campus of LIJ Medical Center.
North Shore-LIJ Chief Nurse Executive Maureen White, RN said of Dr. Smith, “She epitomizes what education is all about. She not only truly understands the content and substance of what is being taught but she also understands the human side of learning. She really tries to put herself in the shoes of the learner; she knows that there’s not one shoe that fits all as far as education is concerned and she’s able to come up with a whole closet of shoes.”
Ms. White added that Dr. Smith is “very deserving and befitting of this acknowledgement of the ultimate educator.”
Dr. Smith said she knew she wanted to be a nurse at age 17 after being a junior volunteer at a hospital when she was 14. Dr. Smith selected nursing because it combined all of the elements that she enjoyed – science, teaching and working with people. Dr. Smith said she always kept in the back of her mind the idea that she wanted to hold an educational position in the nursing field. Before becoming the vice president of nursing education for the health system, she was the corporate director of nursing education for North Shore-LIJ as well as director of nursing education at North Shore University Hospital and LIJ Medical Center. She also worked as a nurse at Huntington Hospital and LIJ Medical Center. In her current position, Dr. Smith oversees the education of about 11,000 nurses throughout the health system.
“I have truly benefitted from having wonderful mentors and teachers,” Dr. Smith said. “I couldn’t have achieved all of this without my family, friends, colleagues and nurse executive colleagues.”
Dr. Smith said she believes that continuing education is critically important to patients’ outcomes and the future of nursing. “There is evidence-based research that with more baccalaureate nurses, better patient outcomes are achieved,” she said. “Given the rapid changes in medicine in areas such as therapies, technologies and pharmaceuticals, education is critically important. This is an award that helps to keep ongoing education for nursing professionals in the forefront. We have rich resources at the North Shore-LIJ Health System and we are ensuring a highly-qualified nursing workforce for the future through our continued innovations.”
Dr. Smith helped the health system to become recognized as a national center for excellence by the National League for Nursing in 2012. But she gets a personal satisfaction from helping nurses starting their careers to develop and write articles for industry publications. Dr. Smith is the associate editor of the Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing. In the last two years, Dr. Smith has helped about a dozen nurses to get their articles published.
“One of the greatest things about teaching is you don’t know where your influence ends,” Dr. Smith said. “It’s like when you drop a pebble into water and you watch the ripples. One of the greatest satisfactions I have had is hearing from a student or someone I mentored about what they have achieved in their career.”
The North Shore-LIJ Health System has one of the largest continuing education programs for nursing in the region. More than 5,000 nurses are involved in the program each year.