Written by Kayla Morris – Foundation Intern, Summer 2021
[CLINTON, N.C.] – Once a Sampson Community College nursing student, Dr. Lisa Smith is now the Department Chair of Nursing at SCC, where she has been instructing for nearly 20 years.
Smith graduated from Lakewood High School in 1993. After graduating, she proceeded to start her career journey at SCC where she received her Associate Degree in Nursing in 1996.
Smith appreciates the time she spent at Sampson and the instructors she worked with as a student. “The instructor that made the most impact on my career was Mrs. Lucinda Gurley. She was tough, had high expectations of her students, and was found ‘intimidating’ by most students. However, in the end, I had the most respect for all those intimidating moments. She became one of my dearest friends and the reason I returned to SCC as a faculty member,” Smith reflected.
After earning her associate degree, Smith continued her educational journey at Barton College and East Carolina University where she received her bachelor’s and Master of Science degrees in nursing, respectively. Smith concluded her academic journey by earning her Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Education Leadership concentration from Gardner-Webb University in 2016.
To begin her nursing career, Smith worked at Betsy Johnson Hospital as a Registered Nurse in the Telemetry Department. She then transferred to Sampson Regional Medical Center to continue working as a Registered Nurse in the Obstetrics Department before finally returning to SCC as a nursing instructor.
Dr. Smith’s coworkers value her and the skills she brings to the table as both an instructor and Department Chair. Dr. Veronica Stevens, Division Chair of Health Programs at SCC, says, “Dr. Smith has truly blossomed over the years into a gifted professional who is a great asset to both the Nursing Department and Health Division.”
As department chair, a typical week for Smith includes both instructional and administrative duties. Instructionally, she teaches two to three days per week and provides tutoring outside of classes and clinicals. Administratively, Smith ensures that the nursing program meets accreditation standards and that classes and clinicals run smoothly.
When asked about the effects of COVID-19 on the Nursing Department, Smith expressed that the virus brought along a challenge to navigate online instruction. “We were able to turn nursing education from what we thought could only be provided as face-to-face, into a remote delivery of instruction. Considering the circumstance, our department did an amazing job,” Smith stated.
Smith believes the nursing program will continue to grow and gain strength in the future. The Nursing Department has a reputation of enrolling a large number of students on campus with exceptional success on the National Counsel Licensure Examination (NCLEX) board passages. These high passage rates are a testimony to the quality of nursing graduates that SCC produces each year.
From the time she first started her journey at Sampson Community College to now, Smith says that SCC has changed structurally, while also gaining program options. However, many of the values and missions of the college remain the same. This is also true for the expectations the Nursing Department holds for its students.
Smith says she strives to make a difference in students’ lives, especially those who do not see their full potential or need encouragement during stressful times. Smith often shares her personal story of academic struggle with students as a way to connect and empathize with students.
Students are grateful for the personal touches Dr. Smith puts into their education. Current nursing student, Emily Johnson, says, “Dr. Smith is an amazing instructor. She is someone who will do whatever she can to help her students succeed in the program.”
Smith’s favorite motto to communicate with students is “Failure is not an option.” This statement was a stronghold for Smith as she journeyed through several years of post-secondary education.
Smith wants students to know that they can do anything they put their mind to as long as they have self-discipline and determination. “Always dream big and prepare to work hard because nothing worth having ever comes easy. Don’t let anyone stand in your way or convince you that you cannot be successful,” Smith commented.
About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education.