Spotlight on: Patty Smith, RN, BSN, ER Nurse, St. James Hospital
By Marianne Benjamin
Monday, December 21, 2020 10:12 AM
Patty Smith, RN, BSN, was a bank manager for 15 years before she took a leap of faith and went back to school to become a nurse at age 34.
“Nursing was always at the back of my mind,” said Smith, an ER nurse at St. James. “My dad was terminally ill with lung cancer when I was young and I helped my mom take care of him. That experience was truly an inspiring factor in my decision to go back to school for nursing.”
Smith, the mother of four, began her studies at Alfred State when her youngest was in kindergarten. “I had an amazing support system that enabled me to go to school, work part time and raise a family,” she said. “My husband and kids were so understanding and encouraging.” She earned her associate degree at the top of her class and kept going until she received her bachelor’s degree this past May.
But Smith isn’t through with her education. She is currently in the EMT program offered through St. James. “As an ER nurse and I wanted to learn more about trauma and life support,” she said. "It’s helpful to know what patients are experiencing before they get to us as the next step in their care.”
Smith worked as a patient care tech at Jones Memorial during nursing school and upon graduation worked as a charge nurse in med/surg there before her current job at St. James enabled her to be closer to home.
She worked in the ER for four years and had a stint in OR nursing but she found her heart was back in critical care. When St. James opened a new hospital with a new ER in March, Smith was part of the process. She likes that the new building has more room for patients and more observation rooms.
“Hornell is my hometown and St. James is my hometown community hospital,” said Smith. “The dynamics in a rural hospital setting are different. Many of our most critical patients are moved to larger hospitals but we work closely with other nursing staff and doctors in close communication to stabilize patients.”
She highly recommends nursing as a career and is glad she made the switch. “Nursing offers you the privilege to care for the people in your community,” she said. “Every day you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.”