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Year of Nurse: She Always Had to Fix the Hurt

Published on Sep. 08, 2020

Elizabeth (Beth) Smith, RN, once thought designing buildings would be fun, but learned quickly at Ferris State University that nursing school was where she belonged.

“I think I was born to be a nurse, always being the child who had to fix the sick and hurt, whether they were an animal or a human,” she said. “I thought I was going to try to be an architect right out of high school, and that didn’t go very far. Nursing was my forte, for sure. I just needed to discover it at the time.”

Caring for Cancer Patients

Beth began her career at Munson Medical Center on oncology and intensive care units. She has served at Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital for the past eight years.

While working in Traverse City, she recalled a young cancer patient who cemented her calling and career in a special way.

“I took care of a young teen who had a very serious illness and was able to grant him a wish by arranging a ride with North Flight on their helicopter,” she said. “It made his Christmas that year, and defined what really caring and going the extra mile for my patients meant to me.  If I can make my patient's day, week, or life better by just doing that little something extra – it makes my heart swell, and I know I've done a good job for them.”

An Exceptional Staff in Charlevoix

As a nurse in Charlevoix Hospital’s Infusion Unit, she sees an exceptional clinical staff working to provide quality care to patients on a daily basis next to the beautiful shoreline of Lake Michigan.

“I witness on a daily basis my peers selflessly going the extra mile, doing those little things that add up to big things for our patients,” she said. “I've been a patient here myself, and I'm proud of my peers as to the care they showed and performed during my stay. We are a little hospital with big-hearted and talented people. We are fortunate to have this exceptional work setting in our community.”

During this WHO-declared Year of the Nurse, she wants others to understand that those who choose nursing for a career live it out on a daily basis, whether at home or on the job. They work when others are home sleeping or enjoying the weekend, and ensure their patients are getting the right care for their needs – as well as adapt to continuing change such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Nursing During COVID-19

“The pandemic is causing so much more work and adaptation in every facet of our world. Nurses are trained to make changes on a regular basis, no matter what the issues are and we do it,” she said. “We are here for our patients, our families, and our work families. In light of stress, nurses try not to let fear overcome, but we do have to vent that stress sometimes. So, listen, support and love your nurses because we are working hard for everyone.  It's what we do.”

What would people be surprised to learn about Beth?

“I'm a graduate of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School. I thought it was a great idea to become a blacksmith back when I owned 20-plus horses,” she said. “I now have two horses, two miniature goats, four cats, two dogs, 10 Turkeys, and 15 chickens that keep me busy and entertained!”