• Dawn Shaddinger: Delivering Heart Smarts Through Research and Education

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    ShaddingerWhen her brother fell while rock-climbing 30 years ago, Dawn E. Shaddinger, M.S.N., R.N., CCRN, CCRC, was just a senior in nursing school. For her brother, the result of the accident was paraplegia. For her, it was the beginning of a heart-felt commitment to patient education that has served her well, even today as an editor for SecondsCount.org.

    That’s because her brother’s doctors weren’t that great at helping the family understand and cope with his diagnosis. The doctors often talked over the family’s heads, and they at times always appeared to be in a rush and had little time to answer the family’s questions.   Ms. Shaddinger’s family soon relied on her as a medical expert.

    “I know what it’s like to be on the other side,” says Ms. Shaddinger. And that’s why she got involved with Seconds Count. “Nurses can tone down language so it’s more accessible to patients,” she says.

    Patient education is also a favorite part of Ms. Shaddinger’s job as administrative director for the Center for Cardiac and Vascular Research at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland.

    Focus on Cardiac Research

    Ms. Shaddinger didn’t always want to be a nurse. In fact, her first major in college was medical technology and accounting. Working with numbers led her to an important realization -- that she’d rather work with people. Switching to nursing was “the best decision I ever made,” she says now.

    She got involved in research while she was managing an intensive care unit at a hospital in Pennsylvania. A cardiologist asked if she would like to help him with a study of heart attack patients, and before long she was involved in so many clinical trials the hospital asked her start her own research department.

    Ms. Shaddinger came to the Washington area in 2001. As administrative director of Washington Adventist’s cardiac and vascular research program, she now spends her days making sure the center’s research initiatives run smoothly. That means reviewing research protocols, helping to enroll patients in studies, keeping projects within budget, and ensuring that the research complies with regulatory requirements. She’ll also steps in to see patients whenever she can.

    When she does, she encourages them to check out SecondsCount.org. Says Ms. Shaddinger, “It’s helpful for patients to know there’s a website that provides information that’s accessible and readable.”