When Russell McGuire first enrolled in college, his plan was to become an agriculture teacher. Now, over 40 years later, McGuire is indeed an educator, but instead of teaching how to care for the soil, McGuire teaches patient care as the Undergraduate Nursing Program Director at South University, Montgomery.
It was while studying to become an agriculture teacher that McGuire met his future wife, who was attending nursing school at the time. From there, he started meeting others in the healthcare field, and decided to try his hand at becoming a paramedic. Before long, he was pursuing a career in nursing and working in the emergency room.
As a nurse, McGuire focused heavily on peri-operative nursing (providing care before, during, and after surgeries), eventually serving as the Director of Surgical Services at several hospitals and medical centers. Like many of our South University students, McGuire was simultaneously working and attending school—earning his BSN in 1991, his MSN in 1995, and a PhD in Nursing by 2002.
Meanwhile, as he kept learning, his career continued growing, and he took on a range of nursing leadership roles that included Director of Clinical Services, System Director: Quality Initiatives and Clinical Practice Development, Chief Nursing Officer, and Chief Clinical Officer. From 1980 to 2000, McGuire also served in the United States Army Reserve, Army Nurse Corps as a Major and Operating Room Nurse.
In 2002, McGuire started teaching part-time at the University of Kentucky. In 2010, McGuire took on his first full-time role in education, later joining South University in 2015, where he enjoys helping adult learners build their new skills and knowledge. "The move to education felt natural for me,” he says. "I've had wonderful mentors throughout my 39 years in nursing, and it was time for me to pay it back."
As an instructor, McGuire is committed to mentoring and serving. "Always greeting students with a smile and giving them my time and full attention helps students to develop the aptitude, confidence, and care required of nurses. Me being present in the moment, I think that eventually rubs off on them so that they do the same when they’re serving their patients."
Throughout his courses, the idea of caring is consistently at the forefront. "Caring is the essence of nursing, the foundation for our whole profession," he says. Collaboration is another important skill he fosters in students, strategically placing them into diverse groups and assigning projects that require them to rely on one another.
Although he's no longer at patients’ bedsides, McGuire sees his students' success as an extension of his own practice, and, as he watches them walk across the stage or when a former student calls to announce that they passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), he is proud to have played a role in their development. He even sees a bit of himself in the students. "Our students are often the same kind of student I was in nursing school. I was trying to work full-time, raise a family, and go to school, so I truly understand many of the challenges that they have," he explains. "I encourage them to learn to time manage, learn to keep your commitments, but also learn to balance your life, and, if you need advice come talk to us, the faculty. We've all been there."
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