Nursing Alumna of Year serving ‘nation’s heroes’ as VA leader
Published on Monday, May 15, 2023
By: Annie Oeth, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos By: Joe Ellis/ UMMC Communications
Dr. Amy Smith went to the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Nursing with a health professions scholarship from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She then returned the favor, serving the VA for more than 30 years in roles from nurse to health care executive.
Smith, now VA director of clinical operations for specialty care, was named the 2023 UMMC School of Nursing Alumna of the Year during an awards luncheon at the River Hills Club in Jackson Thursday.
The award recognizes School of Nursing alumni who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and service and made significant contributions to health care, the nursing profession or UMMC’s School of Nursing. The winner is chosen by a committee of School of Nursing Alumni Association board members.
Also honored were School of Nursing instructor Presly Lowry, who was presented the 2023 Early Career Achievement Award, and Linda Braden Thompson, who was recognized as a member of the golden anniversary Class of 1973.
The Early Career Achievement Award, founded in 2020, honors the accomplishments and contributions to the nursing profession of School of Nursing graduates who are in their first decade of nursing after earning a BSN.
“I am incredibly humbled and honored,” Smith said of the Alumna of the Year award, “especially since this comes from my esteemed peers.”
Smith, who earned the BSN from UMMC in 1991 and an MSN to become a family nurse practitioner in 1994, credited School of Nursing faculty members for preparing her well.
“They put in us a drive for excellence and providing care in areas that are underserved,” she said.
Smith’s career included serving as a family nurse practitioner in the Mississippi Delta soon after her MSN graduation. Having started her nursing career at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Jackson, Smith returned to the VA as a family nurse practitioner, going on to influence care as a leader and executive.
“It has been an honor for me to serve our nation’s heroes,” Smith said. Her family includes veterans who have served in Vietnam, Korea and World War II.
Smith earned a DNP from Rush University in 2008. She has influenced the next generation of nurses by teaching as an adjunct faculty member at UMMC.
Encouraging current and future nurses, Smith noted that, “We exist in what we get but make an eternal difference by what we give.”
Lowry, who earned a BSN from UMMC in 2014, started her nursing career as a registered nurse at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. In 2015, she returned to UMMC as a registered nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit and earned an MSN from the School of Nursing at UMMC in 2018. She became a nursing educator in 2019.
Thanking the UMMC School of Nursing Alumni Board for the Early Career Achievement honor, Lowry said, “I love what I do, I love our students, and I love the nursing profession.”