Saint Louis University

Lee I. Smith

PhD, RN, Professor

 Saint Louis University
 School of Nursing

 office: (314) 977-8980
 fax: (314) 977-8949


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Practice: I practiced for 16 years as a public health nurse before becoming an educator. I have served primarily maternal-child populations in a semi-rural health department, in an urban neighborhood health center, and in a regional developmental program. My practice taught me the clinical wisdom of "begin with people as they are and the situation as it is." I also learned firsthand how clinical practice is a rich source of knowledge. My nursing practice has shaped my research interests, my methodological stance as a researcher, and my approach to teaching.

Research: My research is primarily devoted to understanding the lives and parenting practices of teenage mothers and their families. I have followed one cohort of teen mothers and their families for more than two decades. I have also conducted studies on the development of public health nursing expertise and the educational use of therapeutic letters in undergraduate nursing education. I and colleagues are currently pilot testing an innovative support group intervention to improve teen mothers' mental health. I have published widely and have successfully competed for funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research, the American Nurses' Foundation, and Sigma Theta Tau International. As an interpretive phenomenologist, I am especially interested in articulating the "messy complexities" of the practice world (of families and nurses), the significance of nurse-patient and family relationships, and the crucial role of experience for acting in complex situations.

To watch a brief videorecording of Dr. Smith's research, please click here.

Teaching: I have taught public health nursing practice at the undergraduate level and Family Nursing at the master's level. I currently teach doctoral courses on knowledge development, qualitative research, and an advanced methods course on interpretive phenomenology. I also teach an undergraduate elective on teenage sexuality.

Professional and Scholarly Activities: My professional memberships include the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association, the Missouri Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Midwest Nursing Research Society. I am a board member of the Teen Pregnancy and Prevention Partnership (TPPP), a Missouri organization, and also serve on the Research Advisory Committee for Nurses for Newborns.


  • PhD, Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, CA
  • MSN, Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
  • BSN, Nursing, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
  • BA, Russian, Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Curriculum Vita


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