Employees participating in stroke training

Nurses at Los Alamitos Medical Center Work with Stroke Survivors to Improve Training and Care Delivery in their Community

Quality & Safety

Unlike most stroke programs, nurses at Los Alamitos Medical Center in California conduct stroke training with stroke survivors.

“It’s giving the nurses a lab, not a plastic mannequin, not someone we’re watching on a screen,” said Heidi Taylor, manager of the facility’s Neuroscience Comprehensive Stroke Program. “This is the real thing.”

Taylor and her teaching partner educate the nurses on how to run through a checklist of symptoms and identify signs of a stroke.

The stroke survivors, who volunteer their time to attend this event, often lie on a gurney while the nurses pepper them with a series of questions.

“I’m someone who learns by doing,” said Julia Lanza, a recent nursing school graduate. “An online class cannot mimic what it’s like to actually work with a person. The models are too staged, too obvious. This way, we learn the subtleties.”

Taylor said the stroke survivors also find joy in helping nurses improve their knowledge and care. “This is the stroke survivor’s gift back,” said Taylor. “This is how they’re taking something that was dark and difficult and they’re turning it into a positive.”

Photo Caption: Nurses and a stroke survivor listen as Heidi Taylor explains how to communicate to stroke patients.