Every front line worker that has so inspired us over the past couple of months has at some point found his or her own motivation to take up work that involves helping people in need. For Heidi McGuire, it was a series of experiences while working in another field that led to her choosing a career in nursing.
Heidi worked in the travel industry for years before being hospitalized with complications associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. A rehabilitation stint followed and Heidi points to the team that helped her get back on her feet as an incredible source of inspiration. “Those nurses had a huge impact on my recovery and that left a lasting impression,” remembers Heidi.
Not long after her recovery, Heidi’s grandmother moved into a skilled nursing home. The level of compassion and care Heidi witnessed while keeping tabs on her grandmother’s care made her move a step further and reevaluate her own calling. “I realized that my current career was not fulfilling my need to positively affect people’s lives,” recalls Heidi. “So I enrolled in nursing school.”
The travel industry’s loss has been a blessing to residents living at St. John’s Home as well as guests coming in for short-term rehabilitation stays. Lisa Gerstner, a former nurse manager at St. John’s, remembers when she hired a seemingly quiet and timid new graduate from Monroe Community College. “She was a very quick learner,” says Lisa about Heidi. “It wasn’t very long until she was looked up to as a role model by others. Her residents appreciated her calm demeanor, especially on the rehab unit where things are fast paced.”
Now a nursing supervisor herself, Heidi’s composed, comforting manner brings a vital presence to evening and weekend shifts at St. John’s Home. A mother of two, Heidi appreciates the flexibility and life balance the hours allow for her and her family. She also enjoys the challenges that come with assuming a leadership role during what many consider off hours. “My favorite part is checking in with the nurses and making sure their day or evening is going well,” says Heidi.
Nursing leadership at St. John’s has most certainly taken notice of Heidi’s growth as a nurse over the past few years and responded by putting greater trust in her with increased responsibility. “I always feel more at ease when I know Heidi is supervising,” says Julie Wood, assistant director of nursing. “I have great faith in her skills as a registered nurse and her leadership ability. She always goes above and beyond for us.”
As for Heidi’s past experience observing her own grandmother’s care in a nursing home, she feels better equipped to provide care for residents during these difficult times of a worldwide pandemic. Her unique perspective helps her better empathize with family members who have been unable to visit their loved ones for several weeks. “We know they want to be here,” says Heidi. “We are their eyes and ears and hands right now. That has been difficult but rewarding at the same time.”
Heidi’s search for more rewarding work has clearly led to a successful career change. It has also helped her find a place where she feels needed at St. John’s. “It means a lot to be a part of this team,” she says. “The medical staff makes you feel like a part of a team with the ultimate goal of the elder’s well-being. I feel St. John’s has helped me grow as an employee and a person.”