Education at the Heart of Everything

Laura McGuire, R.N.

From the time Laura McGuire, R.N., was 3, she knew she wanted to be a nurse. She was only 15 when she became a certified nursing assistant, helping her mother manage a home for the elderly, and later for developmentally disabled adults. By 18, she was living on her own when she met a nurse practitioner who inspired her.

“She really went out of her way to look out for me, and I knew that was what I wanted to do for others.”

So she followed that dream, and spent years helping patients in the hospital.

But now, a change of role for a change of heart: She spends her time educating people on how to stay out of the hospital—by staying heart healthy.

“You learn a lot in nursing, but they don’t really train you to be an educator,” she says.

Yet in her role as the cardiovascular patient care program manager, she often finds herself educating classes of 30 to 40 students on how to perform hands-only CPR, for example.

Last year, Laura and a team from NorthBay Healthcare, including Simulation Center Coordinator Lacy DeQuattro, took that training to the student body of the Fairfield-Suisun Public Safety Academy. In addition to teaching hands-only CPR, they offered a thorough four-hour class to upperclassmen in CPR.

This year, she invited Solano County’s STEER (STEMI, Stroke, Trauma, Emergency Education and Readiness) group to join NorthBay in the presentations. “We are ever thankful for your service and providing this life-saving instruction to our cadets as it instills and reiterates confidence, respect and a sense of community with our cadets,” Jonathan Randles, instructor at the school, wrote in a letter of thanks to NorthBay.

In the future, Laura hopes to reach out to other schools, community groups and church communities to spread the word and education about heart health. “Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of people across all genders and ages,” she notes. “If you could make a difference and stop that, why wouldn’t you?”

To that end, she’s created a space on NorthBay.org to provide information about heart health, and offer her services as an instructor. She’s also created a booklet for NorthBay Healthcare patients to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

When she’s not teaching, she’s focused on maintaining NorthBay’s accredition as a Chest Pain Center with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention. “It’s very different than bedside nursing,” she admits, “but I love the idea that I’m saving lives in a whole new way.”

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