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Mom, nurse, ThinkFirst health educator

Mary Beth McClain’s motivation to speak for The Research Foundation’s injury prevention program, ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City, is personal. The decision to join stems from her experiences as a registered nurse, mother of five and, now, a new grandmother.

“As a mother and a nurse, I’ll bring a different perspective to ThinkFirst. I’ve been concerned about my own children being out in the world. I’ve lived with the worry and hope that I’ve taught them well.”

Mary Beth has had an impressive and extensive career in health care while raising five children, a combination that creates a perfect set of skills for a ThinkFirst health educator.

Straight out of nursing school at Research College of Nursing, Mary Beth worked in a step-down intensive care unit. From there, she transitioned into an educational role with a cardiac rehabilitation program where she taught newly diagnosed cardiac patients how to strive for healthier lifestyles.

“That’s where I found a love for health education and wellness.”

Mary Beth used her understanding of patients with heart disease in her next job with a cardiovascular consultants group at St. Luke’s Hospital. She worked weekends as she began having children. Her next venture in health care would be volunteering to head the health room at her children’s school as she took 10 years off to focus on raising her kids.

When Mary Beth returned to nursing, she entered a completely different realm; one that has equipped her to take on the challenge of speaking for ThinkFirst. Score 1 for Health is coordinated by Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and provides free, in-school health screening for elementary-aged children in need. Mary Beth helped organize these screenings for urban core and low-income families from under-resourced neighborhoods.

“We entered inner city schools and did physical assessments for entire school populations in one day. It required managing nursing, medical and dental students and follow up with families of children that had failed various components of the assessments.”

Because of Mary Beth’s time spent in schools and with school-aged children, her transition to ThinkFirst makes sense.

“It’s a necessary message to get out there and I’m passionate about health and education wellness. It seemed like a fun, good fit.”

Mary Beth’s next endeavor is to travel with ThinkFirst to schools throughout Kansas City and share her experiences, as both a mom and nurse. She knows better than most that our youth’s safety is paramount. And that is exactly the message ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City is trying to deliver.