Cambridge nurse retires after 39-year career

Carol Ann Smith (center) says farewell to some of her coworkers during a retirment ceremony on June 21.

Cambridge native Carol Ann Smith, RN, BAN, PHN, CNRN recently celebrated her retirement from Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) after 39 years of service. Smith is the daughter of the late Marvin G. and Lucille Smith of rural Cambridge. She attended Dowling School through the 6th grade and graduated from Cambridge High School in 1974. The summer after her junior year of high school she began working at Cambridge Memorial Hospital as a ward secretary and worked there until she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the College of Saint Scholastica in 1978. That’s when her career began at HCMC.

“It have had an amazing career.  Several ‘dream jobs.’  I could not have done it without the love and support from my parents,” explains Smith. “They gave me the opportunity to go to college and they modeled their wonderful work ethic.”

Smith demonstrated this work ethic by receiving many rewards and recognitions throughout her career – one of which was being named the Myasthesnia Gravis Foundation of America’s (MGFA) National Nurse of the Year in May of 1998. The story was carried by the Cambridge Star. She also received the “Elinor D. Hands” lifetime achievement award from the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance in 2013.  

“She leaves us with a strong foundation,” said Susan Olson, Senior Administrative Director Neuroscience, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Service Line at HCMC. “She has brought her immense passion and tremendous clinical expertise for our traumatic brain injury patient population every day in a very patient and family centered manner.  Most importantly, Carol Ann is an exceptional human being. I am happy that she will now be afforded more time with her family and focus on her special interests in her community.  I have no doubt that Carol Ann will continue to make a big difference in people’s lives no matter her chosen pursuit.”

Smith, along with neurosurgeons Dr. Gaylan Rockswold and Dr. Sarah Rockswold, were instrumental in establishing HCMC’s Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Center and Outpatient TBI Program. At a standing-room-only retirement tea on June 21, there was no shortage of accolades for Smith from her colleagues with Dr. Gaylan Rockswold saying “Carol Ann represents what is the very best about this institution and has worked tirelessly to establish our TBI Center of Excellence. She has been a passionate and compassionate advocate for patients, the TBI Center, and HCMC in her nearly 40 years here. It has been a privilege to know and work with her. Well done, good and faithful servant. We wish you well as you go forward.”

“It is difficult to leave HCMC and yet I am ready for this next chapter in my life,” said Smith. “And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Smith’s retirement activities include more time with family and work with the Isanti Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.

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