The manager of oncology services at the CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center, Maggie Smith, RN, has worked at the cancer center at Flaget Memorial Hospital since it opened in 2010. She started her career in emergency nursing before realizing she wanted a change.
“I was interested in cancer care, and as I started to learn more about it, I was drawn to the patient population,” Smith said. “I took my first job in oncology nursing in 2009. Patients with cancer are so appreciative of everything our team does for them, but my colleagues and I get back 10 times more than what we give. The life lessons we learn while caring for these patients and listening to their experiences make this field truly special.”
Smith put those lessons into practice less than two years after becoming an oncology nurse, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly, Smith found herself on the other side of the patient/provider relationship.
“My experience in oncology nursing helped me help my mom manage the side effects of treatment throughout her cancer journey,” Smith said. “She’s now a 10-year cancer survivor. That experience gave me a better understanding of what patients go through at home and how I could help them, and it made me appreciate our patients and nurses even more.”
Leading by Serving
Smith garners plenty of appreciation herself. Earlier this year, she received the 2019 Leader of the Year award for Flaget Memorial Hospital and the 2019 Leader of the Year award for CHI Saint Joseph Health.
“These awards are reflections of the amazing work of our physicians and staff,” Smith said. “I’m part of a team at work and home, and it includes my husband, who takes care of so many things so I can do my job. My role is to serve and support our staff so they can care for patients.”
A busy mother of two girls, Smith advocates for patients and staff even when she’s not at work by supporting the Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation. She enjoys fundraising for the cancer care center’s ongoing expansion and the hospital’s patient and employee support funds.
“It’s so meaningful to care for my neighbors in the community where I was born and raised.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.