Get to know Maggie A. Smith, DNP, MSN/Ed, RN, OCN®, director-at-large on the ONS Board of Directors from 2017–2020. Maggie is an oncology nurse navigator at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Illinois.
How long have you been a nurse?
What led you to oncology nursing?
My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and succumbed to her disease a very short time after her diagnosis. That family experience made me interested in becoming an oncology nurse.
What was your first experience with ONS?
I attended an annual Congress after a recommendation of my colleagues and was hooked ever since. The opportunity to collaborate, learn, and meet new people from different areas with similar and different experiences was very rewarding.
What role has ONS played in your career?
It is my professional home. ONS is my go to for evidence-based practice recommendations, clinical resources, and journal articles.
What relationships or connections have you made through ONS that you wouldn’t have found otherwise?
I have made connections that will last a lifetime. Friends who are now like family and created many international memories and professional relationships.
How did you get involved in ONS leadership?
A mentor and good friend personally recommended the idea to me. She encouraged me to run for a national office and was extremely supportive throughout the entire process. I acknowledge and thank Mary Ellyn Witt every moment I get.
What has been your proudest moment as an oncology nurse?
My international experience in Bogota, Colombia! Interacting with the students, fellow nurses, professors, and other administrators who were so hungry for knowledge, professional connections, and best practices was one of the most rewarding experiences in my career.
What is your biggest challenge in oncology nursing today, and how can ONS help?
It’s challenging to continue to encourage inclusion and diversity in our profession and among ONS leadership to help continue the sustainability of our organization. Often times I am asked how I got involved with ONS, and many times I find myself clarifying some of the myths about the organization to encourage others to become members or to volunteer to learn more. ONS can promote more open dialogue at any opportunity where members interact in person. Leadership Weekend and the annual conference are great places to start.
What word would you say describes you?
Humble. I try not to take any moment for granted because I realize how precious life is. After the loss of my dad, life had a different meaning to me; it really put things into perspective. Being an oncology nurse and rendering care to patients with cancer and their families is totally different than being an oncology nurse and having my dad diagnosed with cancer. It was a complete change of events and a role reversal for me. Nothing in my career could have ever prepared me for such a devasting loss so close to home. I choose the word humble, because one of my dad’s favorite quotes for a challenging situation is “it’s hard to be humble.”
What was your best travel experience and why?
Every year my family and I bring in the new year in a warm climate out of the country, because we live in Chicago and winters are brutal here. To experience different cultures, cuisines, and life with my family anywhere is always the best travel destination to me.