STARKVILLE, Mississippi, May 10, 2013 – Mary Atkinson Smith, a nurse practitioner in Starkville, MS, recently attended the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) held by the Nursing Organizations Alliance (The Alliance) in Washington, DC, which she attended March 17 – March 19, 2013. The Alliance is a coalition of nursing organizations united to create a strong voice for nurses, and provide a forum for identification, education, and collaboration, building on issues of common interest to advance the nursing profession. Smith was the sole recipient of a full scholarship awarded from the Alliance to attend NIWI.
According to Smith, “The NIWI experience was definitely very educational and enlightening from a healthcare standpoint. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners, serve as a strong advocate for our patients when it comes to influencing the legislative process and policymaking. This nursing internship reinforced the fact that federal legislators view nurses as being very trustworthy, tenacious, reliable, and understanding the “big picture” of today’s healthcare issues, in addition to how decisions in Washington directly affect constituents from a healthcare standpoint. I was able to meet face to face with senators, congressmen, and their legislative staff to discuss first-hand the difficulties and frustrations patients, and providers alike, are experiencing in the world of healthcare.”
As a nurse practitioner, and an assistant professor of nursing in academia, Smith feels that attending NIWI in Washington was a very valuable experience for her personally and professionally. “I am looking forward to utilizing the knowledge and connections I gained, from this internship, to further enhance my influence on health care legislation on a state and federal level, and to serve as a strong advocate for my patients, who reside in the most rural parts of Mississippi. I encourage my nursing colleagues, nursing students, and the public, in general, to communicate their healthcare concerns to their local, state, and federal lawmakers. The lawmakers want to hear directly from their constituents. Direct input and expertise from nurses provides lawmakers, and their legislative staff, with the necessary knowledge needed to create healthcare policy that will have a positive impact on society as a whole, which is extremely important during this time of healthcare reform in our state.”
Smith is a board certified family nurse practitioner and surgical first assistant. She also has additional certifications in orthopaedics and perioperative nursing. Smith is the Director of Health Care Services for the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District in Starkville, MS where she has recently incorporated her house call and transitional program that serves elderly and disabled homebound patients across a seven county area. Smith is also an assistant professor of nursing in the graduate nursing department at the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, MS, in addition to being adjunct faculty with the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Smith is an active member of several professional nursing organizations and has successfully published in various nursing journals. She has served as the past Mississippi Nurses Association District 18 President and is currently chair of the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses Evidence-Based Practice and Research Committee and a member of the Mississippi Nurses Foundation Board of Trustees.
Smith received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Mississippi University for Women, her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Mississippi School of Nursing, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing in Tuscaloosa, AL.