Alumni News

Regina (Houghton) Deible, '85: A Pioneer in Cardiovascular Health

December 16, 2011 by Lisa McMahon, MA'09

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As a child, Regina (Houghton) Deible, '85, would tend to the injuries her four siblings and neighborhood friends would sustain during their outdoor pickup games of baseball, basketball, football, and the like. A few years later, she administered insulin shots to her diabetic grandmother and helped to manage her other necessary care. So it came as no surprise when Regina enrolled in Niagara University's College of Nursing. It seemed to be her destiny.

The Rochelle Park, N.J., native (who now lives in Annandale, Va., with her three children and her husband of 20 years, Dan), has put her nursing degree to use in a variety of settings. From bedside nursing to ICU nursing, research work to management, she has taken advantage of whatever opportunity came her way during the past 25 years. One of the most life-changing opportunities came shortly after graduation, when she took a position as a research coordinator in the field of interventional cardiology at the Washington Hospital Center. Despite the fact she had “absolutely no prior experience,” Regina worked with some of the pioneers in the field and “was personally involved in almost every single early device, stent, and acute MI (myocardial infarction) trial.”

“I started in the field when there weren't any approved devices and had the chance to follow pivotal technology from the bench to bedside,” she says.

Her early on-the-job experience led to opportunities to design training programs for novice coordinators, and she later joined Georgetown University's faculty to teach the process. Today, she divides her time between working in a cardiac catheterization lab at the National Institutes of Health Heart Center at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., and consulting with the medical industry on research trials. She has more than 120 publications, abstracts, and presentations to her name, and her first book chapter on the topic was recently published in the third edition of Invasive Cardiology: A Manual for Cath Lab Personnel. In January, Regina was honored by the Foundation for Cardiovascular Medicine with the John Tworoger Achievement Award for her work in advancing and promoting CV medicine while remaining committed to the hands-on care of patients.

Ironically, research was the furthest thing from her mind while she was at Niagara (" ... the nursing research class was the singular class that I least enjoyed,” she says) but once she was out of school she “found research to be a nice little niche field” that provided the intellectual stimulation she desired to complement her bedside work.

Regina credits the education she received at Niagara with preparing her for her dual roles as researcher and clinician. “Looking back, I marvel that we did as much as we did. Technically, we all double-majored and completed all those clinical requirements that weren't even credit hours,” she says, jokingly adding that the nursing students were “more than a bit bitter on those snowy mornings at 6 a.m. when our friends all slept in as we ventured into Buffalo for our clinicals!”

With plans to stay active in the field and ultimately earn a doctorate degree, Regina also sees a more Vincentian pursuit in her future. Noting that her hospital has a “Mobile Med” program that provides screening, diagnostic testing, and therapeutic techniques for cardiovascular diseases to the uninsured, she says that this is just one example of how she can use her experience and expertise to help those in need. “I think the future holds many hours of volunteer opportunities for me,” she says, “and I look forward to those days ahead.”

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