Miracle of Life
by Maria Muro
New Orleans Living Magazine
“My first experience delivering a baby as a student was a little bit intimidating for me,” says nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife Demetrice H. Smith, FNP-C, CNM. “You realize you have an enormous amount of responsibility. It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time. You’re a witness to the beauty of birth. You are a small part of bringing life into the world — It is simply breathtaking.”
While Smith will soon have her first experiences as a certified nurse midwife at the LSU Healthcare Network clinic Uptown, her education and career path to becoming a midwife has always involved a love for women’s health.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Southern Mississippi, Smith became a registered nurse in labor and delivery at Memorial Medical Center, her first professional experience attending to laboring women, their postnatal care and newborns. She also held the same position, while working for Ochsner Clinic Foundation, formerly Meadowcrest Hospital, in Gretna.
Smith earned her master’s degree in nursing from LSU Health Sciences Center in 2006. She focused on becoming a family nurse practitioner over other specialties because it offered her an array of options, including the opportunity to work in women’s health — “because that’s what fascinated me,” Smith says.
As a family nurse practitioner, Smith worked in acute care and women’s health at various facilities in Louisiana and Texas, where she moved temporarily following Hurricane Katrina. But it was in her time spent with women and assisting them with their prenatal and postnatal care that Smith found her calling.
However, Smith — and her patients — found out one crucial drawback to her nursing position. After spending months providing care and building a rapport with her patients, they would be disappointed to find out that Smith herself would not be performing the births, but rather the collaborating physician.
“I take care of women throughout their entire pregnancy, into the postpartum period and back to their pre-pregnancy status and beyond, but I miss the birthday party,” Smith says. “I wanted to ensure continuity, while providing complete holistic care for my patients. So with the love and support of my husband, I decided to go back [to school] and study midwifery.”
After completing her post-master’s degree from Frontier Nursing University in Aug. 2015, Smith became a certified nurse midwife and could officially perform births for the patients she saw throughout their pregnancies as a nurse practitioner.
In educating her patients and other nursing students as a preceptor, Smith discovered her love of teaching. She first taught as a clinical nursing instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond for nearly a year. Smith is now a virtual clinical instructor for the Master’s in Nursing program hosted by Walden University.
“I wanted to be able to give back to the profession and afford students the same opportunity to have a solid foundation and quality training needed before they graduated,” Smith says.
As a caretaker of women through adolescence, pregnancy, birth, menopause and beyond, Smith applies what she knows about women’s health, both from schooling and real-life experiences. But Smith connects with women on another level that not all healthcare providers can — a personal one.
As a mother of three, with all high-risk pregnancies, Smith can empathize with women at every stage of their pregnancy, let them know firsthand what to expect, and assure them that what they’re feeling and experiencing is normal. But while Smith can share experiences as a mother, she also understands what it’s like to have pregnancy losses, having gone through four losses herself.
“I can connect and sympathize with my patients because I’m able to put myself in their shoes when they experience a loss,” Smith says. ” I care for them through the good as well as bad times. But what a wonderful celebration to partake in when the next pregnancy comes to fruition and you’re holding this tiny miracle in your hands. It’s an indescribable experience.”
Smith can go beyond her duties as a healthcare provider and offer her patients something even deeper than medical advice and treatment: a true connection.
“You grow with your patients and assist them through the natural transitions of life. You become more than just a provider,” Smith says. “You build a trustworthy relationship, offering guidance and support all while empowering women to take charge of their care.”
Demetrice H. Smith, FNP-C, CNM
LSU Healthcare Network Clinic – Uptown
3700 St. Charles Ave., 5th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70115
Graduate School: Nursing, LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA
Post-Masters Certification: Certified Nurse Midwifery, Frontier Nursing University, Hyden, KY
Board Certification: Family Nurse Practitioner (American Association of Nurse Practitioners), Certified Nurse Midwife (American Midwifery Certification Board) Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Louisiana State Board of Nursing