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Profile of a Member: Regina Dowling

Regina DowlingHow did I become a CV nurse? It would be amiss if I didn’t step back into my childhood and see me and my five sisters playing doctor and nurse (anyone remember this?).

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, and hopefully you won’t mind me saying “things were very different back then”. Has ayone ever seen Working Girls with Melanie Griffith? I was raised on the outskirts of New York City, and I grew up thinking I would get on the Long Island railroad and work in the big city as a secretary. You know what? That’s exactly what I did. However, my older sister Kathy took a very different path. From high school, she went directly to community college and became a nurse - I was so proud of her! I married, had two children and that desire to become a nurse simply never went away. I literally woke up one morning, looked at my two daughters (who were 10 and 8) and decided that the world was changing and doors were opening. They could do anything their hearts desired, but they needed a role model. I went back to school… nursing school. My goal: to graduate nursing school before they graduated high school.

Finally, a nurse…. but what field in nursing should I choose? Actually, it was simple; I loved the heart! It's such an amazing muscle, but when the heart does not work well; people are stricken without warning. My Dad had a heart attack and bypass surgery almost 30 years ago. Like so many people, he smoked, didn’t exercise or eat right. It astounds me that these changeable risk factors continue to be common and relatively unknown 30 years later.

So hopefully without boring anyone, I started down a path of CV nursing which has extended over 20 years….ten years in the Coronary intensive Care Unit, 10 years as a clinical nursing supervisor. I honestly never thought I would leave bedside nursing until an opportunity within the Cardiovascular Service Line came up. The executive director had an innovative idea which would prove to be an exciting opportunity to reach more people regarding cardiovascular health than I ever dreamed. Here lay the perfect opportunity; here lay the vision to get the word out!

Our vision was clear; build a CV population management program that will help:
  1. Decrease the incidence of coronary artery disease in our surrounding community, and
  2. Slow the progression of coronary artery disease once it’s been diagnosed
  3. Education for health professionals, not just registered nurses…. Everyone!
In order to succeed, our program’s foundation must be built on knowledge and the desire and commitment to be lifelong learners. Our model is TEACH the TEACHERS.

I knew I couldn’t do it myself, so I began to research what was the best way to engage health care professionals. Low and behold, I came across the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association. Their mission was exactly what I was looking for. “Promote nurses as leaders in cardiovascular disease and management across the lifespan”.  

Some of my favorite things about the PCNA:
  • The PCNA has an awesome, organized and up-to-date website
  • Patient Education
  • CEU’s
  • Yearly symposium and fall series
  • Yearly dues are so reasonable
  • Subscription to Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
  • They made it so easy to create a Connecticut Chapter!
We were lucky to host the fall series this year that focused on lipids. We had 85 attendees that loved the program. Nurses crave education but lack the time. The Membership and Chapter Coordinator, Mariel, helped me plan the series, so I could focus on increasing the attendance. My sincere hope in partnering with the PCNA is to engage the healthcare profession to become lifelong learners. In turn, these lifelong learners will help educate and motivate the surrounding community regarding cardiovascular health.