In honor of National Nurses Week 2019, we caught up with a hard-working and inspiring nursing alumna, Representative Robin Smith (BSN ’85).
Since graduating from UT 34 years ago, Smith has practiced as a nurse, become an entrepreneur, pursued civic passions, obtained a certificate in project management from Stanford University, and served on numerous committees. She’s not only making an impact in her community and state through her civic and volunteer experiences, but also as a legislator in the Tennessee State House of Representatives. In between floor sessions, Smith shared with us how the UT College of Nursing prepared her for her unique career.
How did you go from nursing to the Tennessee State House of Representatives? I practiced in the Cardiac Medicine/Transplant program at UAB Hospital after graduating from UT. Following that experience, I worked in health care sales and marketing before launching my own consulting company in 2005. While I worked in sales and marketing I did a great deal of volunteer work in local campaigns and causes that fulfilled my lifelong love of history and government. After forming my own company, I did more formal work in campaigns and have run over 50 campaigns. I served as Chair of the Tennessee Republican Party where I ran 27 legislative campaigns simultaneously, from 2007-2009. Last year, I was running 17 legislative campaigns for one client and a couple independently. One of those was my own representative, who was required to move last minute, and I found myself standing at a decision that turned into an opportunity. It’s a matter of being active and prepared.
What career accomplishments are you most proud of? My greatest satisfaction is in helping others as part of a team. As a nurse, my greatest accomplishment was to work as part of a world-class team of leaders. In my role in health care sales and marketing, I was honored to work in an academic setting to see many residents use information provided in their skills to sharpen their practice of medicine, especially surgery. As a business owner, solving problems for clients after completing an assessment and developing and implementing a plan is so satisfying. I’ve worked with business startups, health care providers, energy clients and even some high-tech manufacturers. They all need effective project management.
What key lessons did you take from the UT College of Nursing into your professional life? Time management, preparation and operating with facts, not assumptions are only three of many more critical skills taught and refined through nursing. Without a doubt, the confidence in training, mastery and value of applied knowledge instilled at the UT College of Nursing has been invaluable and transcended time and profession.
What advice do you have for our 2019 nursing graduates? Learn, try, get back up after failure but always approach every day with determination, curiosity, gratitude and grit.
What are your most memorable moments as a nursing student at UT? I have too many wonderful memories to list. The Class of 1985 was a very close and large class. Dean Sylvia Hart’s picnic featured awards given in jest, like the Golden Bedpan Award, the Tombstone Award, and the Bedsheet Mitered Corners Award. Our last week of school featured “Aloha Day” with the last of their kind dresses being shredded, leis and an outdoor party. Our graduating class brought helium-filled latex gloves to release at UT’s graduation ceremony. Our keynote speaker Alex Haley laughed when all of the gloves were released!
What a great school with a lasting imprint on my life and others.