Gundersen's Beth Smith-Houskamp, PhD, RN, had her eyes on being a doctor before pursuing a career spanning 30 years as a nurse and nurse leader.
"I was going to medical school, but life had other plans. So, I pursued a career in nursing, which has inspired and challenged me in ways I never imagined," Smith-Houskamp said. "I feel so blessed and honored to help create an environment in partnership with other leaders that supports nurses walking with patients and families through heartbreak, joy and a million other emotions related to their health."
Smith-Houskamp was recently honored as the 2020 Nurse Executive Leader of the Year by the Wisconsin Organization of Nurse Leaders (WONL) for her significant contributions to the nursing profession and to healthcare in Wisconsin. A member of WONL since 2016, Smith-Houskamp has served on the Wisconsin Nursing Board since 2017.
Currently Gundersen's Chief Operating Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and interim Chief Information Officer, Smith-Houskamp joined Gundersen in 2007 as executive director to help plan the organization's new Hospital construction. Since that time, she has held various leadership roles, including Executive Director of Patient and Family Centered Care, Vice President of Team 2, and now her current COO, CNO, and interim CIO responsibilities.
"Gundersen is an amazing organization that honors and values nurses," Smith-Houskamp said. "There are not better nurses than the nurses we have right here at Gundersen. Their courage, compassion and flexibility, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, is incredibly inspiring. I am humbled to work by their side, and I am humbled to receive this recognition from peers."
Her career includes a variety of educational and operational leadership roles at multiple hospitals in Michigan. Smith-Houskamp was director of a Critical Care Level 1 trauma center with a burn unit and director of Education and Research, overseeing educators, clinical nurse specialists, nursing quality, nursing informatics and infection control.
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From EMT to MD: Gundersen doctors aim to inspire healthcare careers