A chance encounter years ago in her native Jamaica started Elvie Smith on what would become a lifetime of making a difference.
“I’m the first of four children, and I was afraid that if I went to medical school, my parents wouldn’t be able to afford to send my siblings to high school.” Smith’s local postmistress encouraged her to apply to nursing school and covered the postage for her application. “She helped me find my way to nursing. She made the difference.”
Now, looking back on a more than 30-year nursing career at NYU Langone Health–Brooklyn, Smith has provided high quality, compassionate care to countless patients. For nearly two-thirds of that time, she has also served as a dedicated union leader. A representative and delegate for the Federation of Nurses/United Federation of
Teachers, Smith is a nurse educator, providing mentorship and training in the field, teaching the importance of union membership, and reminding too often overworked health care professionals about the importance of compassion.
“Nursing is not just handing out medications or giving an injection or documenting in the computer. It’s all about compassion, and compassion cannot be taught from a textbook.”