Major: Master of Science in Nursing / Doctor of Nursing Practice
Year: Rising third year
As a Grey’s Anatomy superfan, Takiyah Smith has spent a lot of time admiring her favorite fictional physicians and surgeons as they’ve interacted with patients at their most intimate moments.
When she learned that nurses often spend the most time with patients in real life, she knew a career in the field was calling her name.
Smith, a native Michigander, wanted to make the most of pursuing a graduate-level education while still being close to her family, so she set her eyes on Case Western Reserve University.
Her passion for integrating mental health with women’s health and primary care ultimately led her to the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, where she is now entering the third year of her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs.
Smith chose to focus her doctorate scholarly project on secondary traumatic stress in sexual assault nurse examiners, which she defines as the “emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another [person].”
“Sometimes patients risk their lives to see me as a sexual assault nurse examiner and receive treatment because they are being trafficked or experiencing domestic violence,” Smith said. “I have to do what I can to help them.”
Outside of this project, Smith has worked with other sexual assault nurses across the state to advocate for legislation and health policy supporting victims of violence. In October, she spoke at the Ohio Statehouse to promote House Bill 390, which would require sexual assault exam kit testing for victims of human trafficking, murder and other heinous crimes.
“It is vital that our laws reflect the pain and suffering perpetrators of violence inflict on victims,” Smith said. “I will do what I can to advocate for survivors, whether that means talking to legislators at the local or national level, or being a proponent for senate or house bills.”
Other advocacy campaigns that Smith has been involved with include giving testimony to the Ohio House in support of making strangulation a felony in Ohio, as well as giving a poster presentation on the importance of sexual assault nurse examiners at the All-Ohio Midwifery Conference earlier this year.
But Smith’s advocacy doesn’t only extend to sexual assault victims—she also serves as Case Western Reserve’s student legislative liaison to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, where she helps to advocate for the well-being of women and infants through the practice of midwifery.
Through this association, in May 2021, she had the opportunity to shadow West African midwives in Kumasi, Ghana, and experience the integration of their culture and emphasis on community care as related to the medical field.
When in Cleveland, Smith can be found spending time on the Government Affairs Committee for the International Association of Forensic Nurses-Ohio chapter.
And, when she isn’t busy with advocacy or academic work, she’s out exploring Northeast Ohio with her dog Kiera, the furry friend she rescued after initially moving to the area.
Upon graduating, Smith hopes to become a midwife and integrate mental health promotion beyond postpartum depression education during prenatal visits. She also hopes to become a sexual assault nurse examiner (per diem).