Eileen P. Williamson, RN, MSN, our senior vice president and chief nurse executive, presented a national nursing excellence award Dec. 19 to Elaine L. Smith, RN, EdD, MSN, MBA, NEA-BC, ANEF, vice president, system nursing education, Institute for Nursing, North Shore-LIJ Health System, at a breakfast reception at North Shore-LIJ.
Smith was selected as one of six 2012 national nurses of the year by Nurse.com, winning in Education and Mentorship.
“Elaine is admired for her generosity of spirit and her unique ability to influence, mentor and educate other nurses,” Williamson said. “She is a uniquely talented and committed nurse of excellence who leads others to elevate their nursing practice and grow on their professional journeys.”
With more than 100 family members, friends, colleagues and Nurse.com staff in attendance, Smith accepted the nursing excellence plaque from Williamson and spoke about the life lessons she has learned from her family, friends and colleagues.
“I have truly benefitted from having wonderful mentors and teachers in my life,” Smith said. “I couldn’t have achieved all of this without my family, friends, colleagues and nurse executive colleagues.”
North Shore-LIJ Health System CNE Maureen White, RN, MBA, NEA-BC, senior vice president, recognized Smith as the ultimate educator and acknowledged her exceptional talent for fully understanding the human side of learning along with the content and substance of what is being taught.
“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,” White said. In her position, Smith oversees the education of about 11,000 nurses throughout the health system.
Williamson cited some of Smith’s accomplishments from the winning nomination submitted by Catherine Galla, RN, MSN, assistant vice president, nursing initiatives, office of the CNE, Institute for Nursing. The list includes a variety of education and leadership roles throughout the system, a perioperative fellowship program for new nurses, a nursing academy to meet the needs of nurse leaders transitioning to new roles, and a systemwide comprehensive on-boarding program that incorporates high-fidelity simulation, e-learning and patient scenario recreations.
“One of the greatest things about teaching is you don’t know where your influence ends,” Smith said. “It’s like when you drop a pebble into water and you watch the ripples.”
Smith has developed a wide variety of educational conferences, certification review classes and partnerships with schools of nursing. She also has striven to support nurses on the path from RN to BSN and higher education.
Smith has achieved national recognition for her work in Quality and Safety Education in Nursing aimed at the development of curricula to ensure nursing competencies, as well as for promoting lifelong learning. Smith helped the health system to become recognized as a national center for excellence by the National League for Nursing in 2012. “Education and mentorship are the areas of nursing that I have dedicated 25 years of my over 35-year career to, and I am profoundly grateful to receive this honor,” Smith said.