by Linda Friedel | Reprinted courtesy of KC Nursing News
Kari Smith is not afraid to get involved. Smith joined initiatives she says give voice to nurses and impact her patients.
“It confirms my passion for my profession. The more I get involved the more I can impact nursing,” said Smith, RN, BS, staff nurse in labor and delivery at Menorah Medical Center.
After Smith joined the Nurse Coordinating Council she was quickly voted by her peers to serve as co-chair for the group. She is the unit’s newest fetal monitoring instructor and coordinator of the bereavement program. Smith helped to fill a void when the department lost its clinical nurse specialist, said Kathy Jackson, RNC, MSN, Family Birthing Center/Women’s Services director at Menorah. Jackson said she is lucky to have Smith on the unit. She admires her dedication. In addition to her leadership roles, Smith has three young children and is expecting another, Jackson said.
“I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot,” Jackson said. “She’s a high performer. Her patients really love her.”
Smith says she loves being a labor and delivery nurse. She likes the challenge, bonding at the bedside with patients and their families and the job’s unpredictable nature. It’s like the emergency department in that way, Smith said. No two days are alike and each delivery is unique, she said. Being in labor and delivery teaches you to appreciate life in general, Smith said.
“I love it. There’s the adrenalin component,” Smith said. “You never know what’s going to come into your door. It’s very unpredictable. I love that.”
Smith likes the education side of labor and delivery in addition to the hands-on skills. She was happy to train as instructor in fetal monitoring, she said. She always has been drawn to health promotion and education, and enjoys sharing her knowledge, she said.
“It’s knowing the information I share with them will make a difference in their lives,” Smith said.
Smith gravitated towards health care in her high school career. Medical terms resonated with her early on, she said. Her interest in science led her to a bachelor’s degree in public health before turning to nursing.
“I loved the medical terms,” she said. “I loved science in itself. Clearly this is where I want to be.”
Complications in her second delivery brought Smith in contact with someone who made a difference, she said. Her labor and delivery nurse inspired Smith into nursing and into the specialty.
“She spent a lot of time teaching me and telling me what to expect,” Smith said. “Her compassion was amazing.”
Smith sees nursing not only as a vocation, but as a way to give back to the community.
“It’s a service,” Smith said of nursing. “It’s something I’ve always been interested in.”