Profile: Gina Kaurich - Teaching nurses the way

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Gina Kaurich
Gina Kaurich
It makes sense that Regina (“Gina”) Kaurich stresses education and career enhancement for directors of nursing. Those values have helped to steer her career, she believes.

“I always felt as though learning and progressing your education is one part of what you need to do in order to become a good leader,” says Kaurich, who was named executive director of The National Association Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care (NADONA) in October. “The other part is the experience.”

A brief snapshot of her professional life: After starting out as a critical care staff nurse, Kaurich transitioned into management positions. Most recently, she worked as vice president of clinical operations for BrightStar Healthcare, a home healthcare organization. Along the way, she attained a bachelor's degree in business administration and marketing, and a master's degree in management.

Colleagues appreciate her background in nursing and business. Her nursing experience is an asset to NADONA, President Sherrie Dornberger says.

“Unless you can walk the walk and talk the talk, it doesn't help, and Gina does that and more,” Dornberger says.

Adds Jackie Vance, director of clinical affairs and industry relations at the American Medical Directors Association: “She's such a visionary and I'm very excited to see where she is going to bring NADONA.”

Kaurich, whom Vance calls caring, upbeat and open-minded, already has hit the ground running, according to both colleagues. Within a week of her starting, NADONA released a pandemic flu program. Then she jumped headfirst into programming for the association's annual conference this month in Atlanta. Among the sessions will be a train-the-trainer meeting on clinical practice guidelines for diabetes. NADONA also has developed new DON certifications under her watch.

While nursing has been the foundation of Kaurich's career, it actually was not her ambition as a child. Teaching was.

The deaths of her parents when she was 12 and 13 (her mother a stroke, her father a brain tumor) altered her life course. She was put in the custody of her mother's best friend, who encouraged her to pursue nursing.

“My foster mother just began to push me in a different direction,” Kaurich says.

Her foster mother (who is now 88 and lives independently) helped her become a candy striper in high school. Kaurich ended up receiving a degree in nursing.  

Today, she is married (to Harry) and has a family that includes a son (Andy), a daughter (Angie) and two stepdaughters (Heather and Courtney).

Losing her parents so young shaped her outlook, she feels.

“You have a choice,” says Kaurich, whose hobbies include psychology, reading, gardening and golf. “You can be consumed by that type of thing and feel like the world owes you … or you can look at it as, ‘This is what I've been dealt and I need to work with it and move on and do what I need to do.'”  

Her positive attitude and ambition have won over colleagues. The number of admirers grows as she gets to know more members.


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Resume

1973
Attains Diploma in Nursing from Christ Hospital School of Nursing in Cincinnati

1973
Serves as critical care nurse for Mercy Healthcare System in Ohio. Later becomes clinical administrator during tenure of more than 25 years there

1998
Earns B.A. in Business Administration and Marketing from Wilmington College (OH)

2002
Serves as RN manager of client care services/quality assurance for Comfort Keepers, Dayton, OH

2003
Receives M.B.A. in Management from Almeda University

2006
Becomes vice president of clinical operations for BrightStar Healthcare

2009
Named executive director of NADONA
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