College of Health Professions
Nursing graduate grateful for advanced learning opportunities and caring professors
Feeling a strong sense of community as an Anderson University student prepared Grayson Smith for his roles at AnMed Health. He has benefited greatly from his education at Anderson’s College of Health Professions; also AU’s close collaboration with AnMed Health in preparing a new generation of healthcare professionals committed to serving the community. Grayson, who serves as chair of the United Way of Anderson County Young Philanthropists, a group of young professionals who are passionate about making a positive community impact, was named among Anderson’s Top 20 Under 40.
How did you become interested in health care?
I think for me it was just the passion for the service to others and especially the service to people who are at the most vulnerable point in probably their entire life. Reaching out to those folks and almost making it like a mission in ministry—those people are at a very low point. How can we be there to support and comfort others? I found that through nursing and it’s helped me carry out that mission very well. I feel like you’ve got to have a passion. It’s definitely not for everyone. Some people think that anybody can be a nurse or be in healthcare, but you definitely have to have a passion for serving others and putting others before yourself.
How did you discover AU?
I was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina. I think for me, just being around Anderson University, I knew some of the faculty, had some family members go through Anderson University, and I knew I was going to get that small community feel that I was used to. I really was uncertain about Anderson University before I started, but upon touring and getting some more reviews from current students, I just really found out how special Anderson University is, and it ended up making a really large impact on my life.
What are some ways your Anderson University education helped you professionally and in other ways?
I think while I was there, the most special thing to me was the family feel of Anderson University—the small class size. Whenever you were out sick or missed a class, you would get a text or email from the professor, “are you okay? I’m just checking on you.” It wasn’t necessarily “why aren’t you in class?” just making sure you’re okay. I feel like that’s something you’re not going to get many more places—just that family feel. The staff is very engaged and connects with the students. As far as how it’s helped me professionally, it’s helped me approach the healthcare sector with a different worldview, really getting that Christian worldview and perspective in my health care experience and professionally.
Tell me about your role as Stroke Center Coordinator.
When I first graduated from Anderson University I served in Cardiac Intensive Care for five years. For the past two years, I’ve been the Stroke Center Coordinator. My clinical arm is mostly in the emergency room with hyper acute strokes. Then I move into more patient education, sitting down with the family to discuss, “what’s going on, why did I have this stroke and where do we go from here?” I do have a professional aspect that takes care of the staff education as well as our hospital program accreditation and other responsibilities.
What were some highlights for you as an Anderson University student?
I think it’s probably the social aspect as far as clubs and student activities, making a lot of new friends. I built a network at Anderson University that has carried on into my professional life, even so that I’m very close friends with several of the professors that I went to school with. I worked with probably four or five professors that taught me in college and now they are my colleagues—just building relationships. That has definitely helped me in my career and my future.
One thing that’s special in our community is Anderson University’s close partnership with AnMed Health.
I think that was a lot of the reason why I came to AnMed is that partnership with Anderson University. I was getting a very similar feel with AnMed that I got with AU—that community, family feel. Anybody can go work for a large hospital, can go to a large school in a large city and you might not get that feeling. This is a school built by the community and a hospital built by the community to care for the community, so I feel like I was able to get all of those areas with the school and the hospital.
At the end of the day, what gives you the greatest feeling of satisfaction?
I think the satisfaction comes with knowing that you’re making a difference. If somebody comes in who is having a stroke, you give them medication to kind of bust up the clot if they’re eligible for it. We recently had a patient who received this treatment come back to visit with the staff that cared for him… instead of lying in a nursing home somewhere, he’s walking, talking, doing yard work. I feel like it’s that gratification that even though sometimes the work you do may seem very small, you’re making a large impact in someone else’s life.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into nursing or some other healthcare career?
I would recommend them to pursue it wholeheartedly if it’s something they’re interested in. It’s something that you really have to discover that love and passion for. You need to embrace the passion for serving others. Sometimes it takes a lot to discover that and some people might not know if they have that passion. Seek out volunteer opportunities, get to know the College of Health Professions and maybe take a tour. Just make an effort to discover that passion.
AU played a significant role in my life. The relationships that I was able to build, and the time I spent there was so great that I would do it all over again. I feel like that lasting impact that AU has on a lot of lives is one that you’re not going to find at many universities.
Cindy (Cross) was one of my professors in school and now she’s a colleague of mine. She’s also been a family friend for a very long time. It’s been fun to watch that relationship develop. I’m excited to see what AU is doing as a whole but that the College of Health Professions is growing up so quickly. Even when I was there, they were always on the forefront in technology as far as the simulation lab and the cadaver lab. Everything is state-of-the-art and I know it still is above and beyond even some of the major universities in the state. It speaks numbers when you’ve got graduates coming out and they are above and beyond their counterparts from major universities. The quality of students that Anderson University graduates is very impressive.